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News Museum of Computing launches video series

Discussion in 'Article Discussion' started by CardJoe, 16 Jun 2008.

  1. CardJoe

    CardJoe Freelance Journalist

    3 Apr 2007
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  2. Mentai

    Mentai What's a Dremel?

    11 Nov 2007
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    This looks like a great idea. My dad has told me about punchcards being introduced when he was in university, kinda hard to visualise these days. I'd want to go have a play around for sure.
  3. mikeuk2004

    mikeuk2004 What you Looking at Fool!

    3 Sep 2004
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    Wow, how things have changed and how people of today expect and demand computers to do so much more.
  4. Gareth Halfacree

    Gareth Halfacree WIIGII! Lover of bit-tech Administrator Super Moderator Moderator

    4 Dec 2007
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    Probably because most of their dedicated servers have around 32KB of core memory. :p

    The Museum is run entirely on donations, so I would imagine they chose YouTube simply because they don't have the budget to host large video files.
  5. Bionic-Blob

    Bionic-Blob What's a Dremel?

    2 Aug 2007
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    cool, i live in bletchley :p
  6. dgrb

    dgrb What's a Dremel?

    9 Mar 2009
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    "Bletchley Park – home of the team of codebreakers responsible for the creation of the Colossus system for breaking German Enigma ciphers during World War 2".

    Oh dear, oh dear. Colossus was *not* designed to crack Enigma. The Turing-Welchman Bombe was built for that and it was electromechanical.

    Colossus was built to decipher messages encoded using "Fish" (the British name for the Siemens Geheimschreiber 42) and was purely electronic. It was derived from several machines (the "Robinsons") designed by Max Newman - Turing's supervisor at Cambridge, he later went on to Manchester ; Colossus itself was designed by Tom(my) Flowers and built by him, Sid Broadhurst and W.W. Chandler.

    Although Turing had no direct input into the design of Colossus (this is another widely-promulgated myth - but he was in Washington. DC, when it was designed and built) he was an inspiration for it, Newman, of course, being intimately familiar with Turing's groundbreaking paper "On Computable Numbers".

    BTW the first computer ever to play - to be precise, beep - music was the Australian-built CSIRAC, which in 1951 beeped Colonel Bogey.

    The page also suggests adding some personal memories from any who might recall "punch tapes, even punch cards"

    Well, for one thing, punch cards lasted rather longer than paper tape - both literally and in use. I can recall dealing with one site c1984 who still used paper tape and were considered seriously loony for doing so. Punched cards were still around at the same time, although seriously obsolescent, but not viewed as being as anachronistic as tape.

    The first computer I ever wrote code for was the IBM 7090 owned by Imperial College, London.

    I was still in school and we were one of three participating in a pilot project with the college. I can still recall our day visit to Imperial where we were addressed by some senior honcho from IBM and saw the machine.

    Our programs were written in FORTRAN, which was compiled used PUFFT, the Purdue University Fast Fortran Compiler, FORTRAN-IV was either not available or not for the 7090.

    Of course our school had no card punch, so instead we had cards where every potential hole was perforated (talk about hanging chads!) and we had to punch out the appropriate ones using a device rather like a darning needle.

    (On a couple of occasions our maths teacher, who had contacts in a factory with computer access a few miles away, had them punched for us).

    Our cards were then mailed (of course snail) to Imperial, who would compile them and, if there were no errors, run them, print off the results and mail them back to us.

    Turnaround time, with luck, a week! Imagine how I felt when my first attempt failed to compile, not because of errors in my coding, but because I'd punched ONE HOLE in the wrong place!

    Irrational though it may be, I've hated FORTRAN ever since.

    At university I encountered time sharing for the first time when I took a course in numerical analysis taught by Maurice Wilkes, builder of the world's first non-prototype computer, the EDSAC, and inventor of microcode.

    He was an appalling lecturer - but then, on reflexion, this course was probably several light-years beneath him and he must have been seriously bored. We wrote code in BASIC for a DEC PDP-8. My supervisor also showed me the old Cambridge-built TITAN machine which was still being used.

    And another tutor, the great John Conway (perhaps the only bona-fide genius I've ever met), told me all about the Game of Life a year or so before Martin Gardner's description of it in Scientific American. "I always fell a bit guilty", Conway told me, "about turning the machine off. I feel I'm *killing* them."

    My first job in the industry involved programming a Honeywell 6060 in COBOL. Although we had some terminals - in a separate room, you had to book time on them - much of our work involved cards and reading listings, whether source code or (octal) memory dumps. Turnaround time, as the machine was in another building, about half a day.

    And yet 35 years later, with five computers in the house plus a router and NAS box both also running linux, not to mention two at work, I feel more distanced from the *feel* of the machine than I ever did then.
    Last edited: 9 Mar 2009
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