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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Comparing Programming Languages in real life

Comparing Programming Languages in real life
There are so many programming languages available that it can be very difficult to get to know them all well enough to pick the right one for you. On the other hand most men know what kind of woman appeals to them. So here is a handy guide for many of the popular programming languages that describes what kind of women they would be if programming languages were women.
Assembler - A female track star who holds all the world speed records. She is hard and bumpy, and so is not that pleasant to embrace. She can cook up any meal, but needs a complete and detailed recipe. She is not beautiful or educated, and speaks in monosyllables like "MOV, JUMP, INC". She has a fierce and violent temper that make her the choice of last resort.
FORTRAN - Your grey-haired grandmother. People make fun of her just because she is old, but if you take the time to listen, you can learn from her experiences and her mistakes. During her lifetime she has acquired many useful skills in sewing and cooking (subroutine libraries) that no younger women can match, so be thankful she is still around. She has a notoriously bad temper and when angered will start yelling and throwing dishes. It was mostly her bad temper that made grand dad search for another wife.
COBOL - A plump secretary. She talks far too much, and most of what she says can be ignored. She works hard and long hours, but can't handle really complicated jobs. She has a short and unpredictable temper, so no one really likes working with her. She can cook meals for a huge family, but only knows bland recipes.
BASIC - The horny divorcee that lives next door. Her specialty is seducing young boys and it seems she is always readily available for them. She teaches them many amazing things, or at least they seem amazing because it is their) first experience. She is not that young herself, but because she was their first lover the boys always remember her fondly. Her cooking and sewing skills are mediocre, but largely irrelevant, it's the frolicking that the boys like. The opinion that adults have of Mrs. BASIC is varied. Shockingly, some fathers actually introduce their own sons to this immoral woman! But generally the more righteous adults try to correct the badly influenced young men by introducing them to well behaved women like Miss Pascal.
PL/I - A bordello madam. She wears silk dresses, diamonds, furs and red high heels. At one time she seemed very attractive, but now she just seems overweight and tacky. Tastes change.
C - A lady executive. An avid jogger, very healthy, and not too talkative. Is an good cook if you like spicy food. Unless you double check everything you say (through LINT) you can unleash her fierce temper. Her daughter C++ is still quite young and prone to tantrums, but it seems that she will grow up into a fine young woman of milder temper and more sophisticated character.
ALGOL 60 - Your father's wartime sweetheart, petite, well proportioned, and sweet tempered. She disappeared mysteriously during the war, but your dad still talks about her shapely form and their steamy romance. He never actually tasted much of her cooking.
Pascal - A grammar school teacher, and Algol 60's younger sister. Like her sister she is petite and attractive, but very bossy. She is a good cook but only if the recipe requires no more than one pot (module).
Modula II - A high-school teacher and Pascal's daughter. Very much like her mother, but she has learned to cook with more than one pot.
ALGOL 68 - Algol 60's niece. A high-society woman, well educated and terse. Few men can fully understand her when she talks, and her former lovers still discuss her mysterious personality. She is very choosy about her romances and won't take just any man as her lover. She hasn't been seen lately, and rumor has it that she died in a fall from an ivory tower.
LISP - She is an aging beatnik, who lives in a rural commune with her hippie cousins SMALLTALK and FORTH. Many men (mostly college students) who have visited the farmhouse,-- enthusiastically praise the natural food, and perpetual love-ins that take place there. Others criticize the long cooking times, and the abnormal sexual postures (prefix and postfix). Although these women seldom have full-time jobs, when they do work, their employers praise them for their imagination, but usually not for their efficiency.
APL - A fancy caterer specializing in Greek food. She can cook delicious meals for rows and rows of tables with dozens of people at each table. She doesn't talk much, as that would just slow her work down. Few people can understand her recipes, since they are in a foreign language, and are all recorded in mirror writing.
LOGO - A grade-school art teacher. She is just the kind of teacher that you wish you had when you were young. She is shapely and patient, but not an interesting conversationalist. She can cook up delicious kiddie snacks, but not full-course meals.
LUCID & PROLOG - These clever teenagers show a new kind of cooking skill. They can cook-up fine meals without the use of recipes, working solely from a description of the desired meal (declarative cooking). Many men are fascinated by this and have already proposed marriage. Others complain that the girls work very slowly, and that often the description of the meal must be just as long as a recipe would be. It is hard to predict what these girls will be like when they are fully mature.
Ada - A WAC colonel built like an amazon. She is always setting strict rules, but if you follow them, she keeps her temper. She is quite talkative, always spouting army regulations, and using obscure military talk. You gotta love her though, because the army says so.
Java - Bulky with big boobs. Does everything you want but slowly. Hardly complains about how you want it in bed. The kind of woman who is not sexy, but gives you amazing satisfaction. You have tried several women, but this one doesn't get off your mind so you always go back to her.
PHP - Slick and slim lady. Very portable. Does nice and amazing things with her small body. Very good in aerobics. Not very sexy but intact. She is the kind of women that most men are happy to wed, though she will need a house maid because she is unable to carry heavy workload.
Ruby on Rails. The new girl in town. Everybody is talking about her. Very beautiful and sexy. Only daring men, because she is till new, have the guts to ask her out. She is modern and sophisticated. Already a lot of myth is surrounding her with regards to her ability. She is not talkative but looks rather very intelligent.
C# - The pimp from next door! She likes copying everything, from recipes to makeup to fashion. She is never original and likes to still other women's ideas, then go about shouting that the ideas are hers. Those who are not aware of her source of ideas think she is very intelligent. She is very talkative and showy. Sometimes she is very good at perfecting what she has copied.
Python - The all complete lady who is the envy of the town. She came up with a slick new way of dressing that made her a hit. Those who initially scoffed at her new dressing later fell head over heals for it. She is not talkative, but when she does a job, she does it very well.

Vintage computer mannuals

Vintage Compuer: An Ancient Computer Surprises Scientists

The New York Times
Printer Friendly Format Sponsored By

November 29, 2006

An Ancient Computer Surprises Scientists

A computer in antiquity would seem to be an anachronism, like Athena ordering takeout on her cellphone.

But a century ago, pieces of a strange mechanism with bronze gears and dials were recovered from an ancient shipwreck off the coast of Greece. Historians of science concluded that this was an instrument that calculated and illustrated astronomical information, particularly phases of the Moon and planetary motions, in the second century B.C.

The Antikythera Mechanism, sometimes called the world’s first computer, has now been examined with the latest in high-resolution imaging systems and three-dimensional X-ray tomography. A team of British, Greek and American researchers was able to decipher many inscriptions and reconstruct the gear functions, revealing, they said, “an unexpected degree of technical sophistication for the period.”

The researchers, led by Tony Freeth and Mike G. Edmunds, both of the University of Cardiff, Wales, are reporting the results of their study in Thursday’s issue of the journal Nature.

They said their findings showed that the inscriptions related to lunar-solar motions and the gears were a mechanical representation of the irregularities of the Moon’s orbital course across the sky, as theorized by the astronomer Hipparchos. They established the date of the mechanism at 150-100 B.C.

The Roman ship carrying the artifacts sank off the island of Antikythera around 65 B.C. Some evidence suggests that the ship had sailed from Rhodes. The researchers speculated that Hipparchos, who lived on Rhodes, might have had a hand in designing the device.

In another article in the journal, a scholar not involved in the research, François Charette of the University of Munich museum, in Germany, said the new interpretation of the Antikythera Mechanism “is highly seductive and convincing in all of its details.” It is not the last word, he concluded, “but it does provide a new standard, and a wealth of fresh data, for future research.”

Historians of technology think the instrument is technically more complex than any known device for at least a millennium afterward.

The mechanism, presumably used in preparing calendars for seasons of planting and harvesting and fixing religious festivals, had at least 30, possibly 37, hand-cut bronze gear-wheels, the researchers reported. An ingenious pin-and-slot device connecting two gear-wheels induced variations in the representation of lunar motions according to the Hipparchos model of the Moon’s elliptical orbit around Earth.

The functions of the mechanism were determined by the numbers of teeth in the gears. The 53-tooth count of certain gears, the researchers said, was “powerful confirmation of our proposed model of Hipparchos’ lunar theory.”

The detailed imaging revealed more than twice as many inscriptions as had been recognized from earlier examinations. Some of these appeared to relate to planetary as well as lunar motions. Perhaps, the researchers said, the mechanism also had gearings to predict the positions of known planets.

Dr. Charette noted that more than 1,000 years elapsed before instruments of such complexity are known to have re-emerged. A few artifacts and some Arabic texts suggest that simpler geared calendrical devices had existed, particularly in Baghdad around A.D. 900.

It seems clear, Dr. Charette said, that “much of the mind-boggling technological sophistication available in some parts of the Hellenistic and Greco-Roman world was simply not transmitted further,” adding, “The gear-wheel, in this case, had to be reinvented.”

Vintage Computer Manuals

A Reconstruction of the
Antikythera Mechanism

Dated to ca 80 BC

In the year 1900 the bronze remains of a mechanical device were retrieved from a shipwreck off Antikythera, near Crete.

It was not clear initially what the device was, except that it was clearly a sophisticated mechanism. X-ray analysis was subsequently used to probe the inner structure of the device, the details of the gears. Finally in 1974, a full analysis was published by Professor D. De Solla Price. While some of the original gearing was missing, there was enough to work out that the device was intended to show the motion of the Moon, Sun, and most likely the Planets through the years, when the handle was turned. A few years ago, John Gleave, an orrery maker based in the United Kingdom, decided to construct a working replica of the original mechanism.

Antikythera mechanism - front

A full scale reconstruction of the Antikythera mechanism
Height 12.25 inches
The front dial - showing the annual progress of the sun & moon through the zodiac, against the Egyptian calendar, rendered in Greek on the outer annulus

Antikythera mechanism - the back dials

The back dials

The upper back dial displays a four year period and has five concentric inscribed rings, most probably each with 47 divisions giving the Metonic Cycle of 235 synodic months, which equals 19 solar years. The lower back dial gives the cycle of a single synodic month, and the subsidiary dial the Lunar year of 12 synodic months.

The original gearing was cut from bronze, and the 60 degree triangular teeth were finished using a file. In the reconstruction, the gearing is made from brass, set between perspex plates, with perspex dials in place of the original bronze, so that the mechanism is visible.

The instrument indicates that the technology of the time, of which this is the only surviving example, was by any measure sophisticated.

Vintage Computer Manuals

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Vintage Computer Manuals History Lady Ada Augusta Lovelace

Lady Ada Agusta Lovelace

Lady Ada Agusta Lovelace ( 1815 - 1852) daughter of the poet Lord Byron , was an admirer of the early vintage computer history maker Charles Babbage and his work with the "diffirence machine". Lady Lovelace became Babbage's close friend and public supporter.

Lady Lovelace has been called the first computer programmer. Lady Ada Augusta Lovelace discovered some of the key elements of computer programming and vintage computer design. For example she figured out that the same set of punched data cards could be reused to repeat certain computer instructions. Today we call these computer software instructions "loops" and "subroutines".

Vintage Computer Manuals
Adger Linux

Monday, November 27, 2006

November 27, 2006

Blast from the Past: Floppy Calculator

A flickr user recently went through their closet and found a bunch of vintage computer-related memorabilia including this Mac Warehouse promotional calculator in the shape of a 3.5" floppy disc. Kitsch-value aside, I think it's actually a really cool promotional item, although perhaps I just think it's cool because it's anachronistic.

Vintage Computer Manuals

1987 computer serving a site from floppy!

1987 computer serving a site from floppy

286 Web Server

Believe it or not, this page is brought to you by a 1987 computer. It
doesnt have a harddrive,
and everything it needs,

including this page, is on a single floppy disk!! Operating System (DR-DOS),
server application (EZ-NOS),

packet drivers, this page and the image. It's reading the floppy as you read
this text!

The specs are as follows:

IBM PS/2 Model 30

286 processor running at 8 MHz


1.44 MB 3.5" floppy drive

Etherlink III network card

Someone is
probably saying HEY!! That Model 30 on the pic has
a hardrive! Well, no, it
. It's the actual server serving this page, but the
harddrive broke down and I had to remove it for it
to boot properly. So it's a single floppy system now. I
hear it complaining though :-)

How I did it:


An 8088 CPU or newer

640 KiB RAM

720 KiB Floppy drive or a
(Dont tell me you have such a
luxury item =P)

A network card and packet driver

+ howto here

It's actually very easy to do this. I just installed an
III, got the drivers and followed EZ-NOS'
howto for the server software. It creates a
bootable floppy with all required software, and over 1 mb
free space (if you use a 1440 kb floppy, 720 kb is also supported) for the
actual site. Of course, you can also install it to a

Vintage Computer Manuals

History of Vintage Computing Charles Babbage

Charles Babbage ( 1781-1971) was an English mathematician , was responsible for a major step in the evolution of computers. Babbage , professor of mathematics at Cambridge University , had a reputuation for a quick temper that earned him the nickname "the irascible genius". True to his nature , he bacame annoyed by the mathematical errors he was constantly finding in printed navigational and astronomical tables. He hit upon the idea that these tables could be more accurately calculated by machines. The "difference engine" which was invented in 1822 , was designed specifically to compute polynominals ( the sum of two or more positive terms as X squared +x + 31).

Babbage next went to work on what he called the "analytical engine" . This was a dramtatic improvment over his one task computer: it was a kind of general purpose computer designed to solve any arithmetic problem. In fact , it had most of the elements present today in today's digital computer systems " a "mill" or "processing unit , which manipulated data according to certain rules: a "store" or memory ,which held information : data recorded on punched cards. or input recorded on punched cards , or input , and automatic printing or output. A logical set of instructions led the user to subdivide calcualtions into a steps performed in sequence - in other words , a program - that could be changed.

Babbage got the idea of using punched cards to feed instructions into his huge machine from the invention of a Frenchman named Joseph Mair Jacquard ( 1752 - 1834) . Jacquard had used cards with holes punched in them to activate rods that raised and lowered threads on a weaving machine. A sequence of Jacquard cards produced a pattern in the woven cloth : each sequence of cards ( i.e each program in other words ) produced a different pattern.

However , the machine was very complicated and required thousands of gears. levers . and belts all working together in fine tuned precision . Although Babbage worked on the diffirence egine until his death in 1871 , it was never completed.

Vintage Computer Manuals

History of the Microcomputer - Lebniz

History of the Microcomputer - Lebniz

In 1671 the German philisopher Gottsfried Wilhelm von Leibniz ( 1646 - 1716) developed the "stepped reckoner." In this device Leibniz overcame the defects of Pascal's toothed gears. A desk top calculator like the pascaline , the stepped reckoner could add and subtract automatically. It could multiply and divide by using additions and subtractions.

Although many models of Leibniz's machine were used in his day, his later designs for improved calculating devices could not be produced commercially" Precision machine tooling to make identical metal parts did not exact until the 17th century.

"Most of you probably remember the Contiki OS which previously have been used to Internet-enable both the Commodore 64 and the 8-bit Atari. This video

"Most of you probably remember the Contiki OS which previously have been used to Internet-enable both the Commodore 64 and the 8-bit Atari. This video shows the brand new Apple II Contiki port in action, booting up on an Apple IIe and surfing to The network connection was made with a specially crafted Ethernet adapter."

Apple II with Contiki Browsing the Internet Web

Browsing the Web from an Apple II with Contiki
Written by Adam Dunkels, Sunday, 26 November 2006
Two years ago Glenn Jones made an Ethernet card for the 1984 compuer Apple II and Oliver Schmidt ported Contiki to it. Tim Haynes captured a video of an Apple II running Contiki and browsing the web that made the news back then. Here it is again.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

1987 computer serving a site from floppy!

1987 computer serving a site from floppy!
submitted by SeBBBe 11 hours 29 minutes ago (via

This old 286 computer running at 8 MHz, with 1 MiB ram and no hard drive (the OS, all software and the site is on a single floppy!) still serves a purpose by acting as a fully functional web server running DR-DOS. Also includes a description of how to build your own server on an 8088 or newer, and links to all software required!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Infinite Mario Brothers

Infinite Mario Brothers

Friday, November 24, 2006



Date: November 24th, 2006
Article by: Karl Van Der Walt (Hardware Reviewer)
Edited by: Nathan Glentworth (Owner / Head Editor)

The Lowly Hardware Technician

Seeing I have been in the PC business for over seven years I have noticed something about the support industry.

PC support companies build their business on the backs of high school and college graduates, the people who get a job just to get by until something better comes along. These people are called hardware technicians; they bare huge responsibility and work for low pay, often for little better than minimum wage. Hardly any of these people take their job seriously and those that do are usually looking to get into a more prestigious field like Network Administration or Security. Who could blame them with such a poor pay rate? But there are a few, such as myself, who specialize in this area. The problem is this, although the market for our skills is virtually limitless, the pay is scant. The only way for serious hardware specialists to make money is to “go it alone” or start their own tech company. When we start our own firm we then have the problem of finding reliable staff. Now, considering that WE started our own firm because we were not satisfied with low pay and an excessive workload, the odds are that anyone else who we would consider reliable would be looking to do the same. So, we are left with one option: Training the staff ourselves. Naturally, just when you have someone trained, they leave and try to “go it lone”. You can see how this becomes a problem.

The problem is that the PC tech companies put little to no store in their techs, and then pay ridiculous wages and still expect premium service. Without us, none of the other specialists can do their job yet we are the ones that get overlooked. People only notice when something is wrong, if we have done our job right and nothing is going wrong then the same people start to wonder why they are paying us when there is obviously no work for us to do. Laugh if you will but this is the frustration that we PC techs face almost on a daily basis. What's worse is that even other people in different PC related fields tend to look down on us. Usually they think that we must have tried to get into another field, like the one they are in, but obviously weren't good enough. At the end of the day, how can people take us seriously when so many people baring the same title as us don't take the work seriously? Much of my work is caused by other techs doing a bad job. I spend most of my time fixing other peoples mistakes and poor workmanship. A computer NOT serviced is far less likely to have a problem than one that is maintained by a careless store employee.

(photo property of NBC Studios)

Then there is the “know-it-all” technician. Most of us have had the misfortune of meeting them, the guys that go to a client, treat the client and any other PC technician there like idiotic morons that can barely breathe and then completely mess up the job with their "superior" intellect. To make it worse they will then proceed to blame the first thing that comes to mind, the client, their fellow PC Technician or any other poor soul that happens to be a suitable victim. These guys really make things difficult for the rest of us, while they often know a bit about what they are doing they have no place in the field, they are the guys you want to keep in workshops and away from clients or better yet, not hire in the first place. I have often had altercations with people like this; hugely over inflated egos and a condescending attitude mark them well. Its not only limited to Technicians though, there are also businesses that put profit first and clients and employees last. These businesses hire the bare minimum staff at the lowest possible rate and then charge the earth. A good work ethic is to always put the client first and offer the best service possible, if this is done right then the money always takes care of itself and you will always have clients. I make it a point to always leave the client smiling. It's the little things, making conversation so the client doesn't notice the time going by while you work or doing the job as quickly as possible to suit there schedules rather than dragging it out to charge more. Technicians often forget they are dealing with people. Just because someone does not know what PCI or AGP means does not make them stupid or inferior.

Then you have the problem that most businesses only hire “qualified” people. The people doing the hiring seldom know anything about the field they are hiring for and so demand things such as MCSE or A+. Now these qualifications are all well and good but having them does not make you a good technician. There is no substitute for experience and while I understand the point of view these people have, it's the wrong approach. When I have a large contract I often hire a few guys to help ease the load, I always pick experience over qualification. The one time I was looking for qualifications I ended up hiring a moron who nearly cost me my reputation and a lot of money. Anyone can read a book but not everyone can apply the principals in said book to real life. I have often seen technicians dive into a book as soon as they hit a problem; these guys almost never become any good. Its one thing to be taught to paint a specific picture using a tutorial, but another thing entirely to learn the technique and be able to paint your own. Techniques are learned from others and from practice; you cannot learn a trick from a book in most cases.

Why do I continue to work in the field then?

Because decent people like you need me and so long as I am working for myself the money is enough to live on. In addition interesting people from almost all walks of life need my services, which makes the day-to-day chore a pleasure. I have and always will be a technology buff. I find nothing more satisfying than building a new system with new technology and putting it through its paces. I can only hope that someday people like me will be treated with the respect and gratitude that we deserve and that the people who employ us will pay us what we deserve. This is a very satisfying and rewarding field and will be much better when people acknowledge our efforts.

So please people, next time you notice that you haven't had a problem with your PC at work in a long time, remember that there is someone responsible for that and that they have obviously been doing a good job. It doesn't take much effort to say thank you and it makes all the difference to us. Everyone likes to be appreciated, even the guys behind the scenes.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A History of Information Technology and Systems

A History of Information Technology and Systems

  • Four basic periods
    Characterized by a principal technology used to solve the input, processing, output and communication problems of the time:

    1. Premechanical,
    2. Mechanical,
    3. Electromechanical, and
    4. Electronic

A. The Premechanical Age: 3000 B.C. - 1450 A.D.

  1. Writing and Alphabets--communication.
    1. First humans communicated only through speaking and picture drawings.
    2. 3000 B.C., the Sumerians in Mesopotamia (what is today southern Iraq) devised cuniform
    3. Around 2000 B.C., Phoenicians created symbols
    4. The Greeks later adopted the Phoenician alphabet and added vowels; the Romans gave the letters Latin names to create the alphabet we use today.
  2. Paper and Pens--input technologies.
    1. Sumerians' input technology was a stylus that could scratch marks in wet clay.
    2. About 2600 B.C., the Egyptians write on the papyrus plant
    3. around 100 A.D., the Chinese made paper from rags, on which modern-day papermaking is based.
  3. Books and Libraries: Permanent Storage Devices.
    1. Religious leaders in Mesopotamia kept the earliest "books"
    2. The Egyptians kept scrolls
    3. Around 600 B.C., the Greeks began to fold sheets of papyrus vertically into leaves and bind them together.
  4. The First Numbering Systems.
    1. Egyptian system:
      • The numbers 1-9 as vertical lines, the number 10 as a U or circle, the number 100 as a coiled rope, and the number 1,000 as a lotus blossom.
    2. The first numbering systems similar to those in use today were invented between 100 and 200 A.D. by Hindus in India who created a nine-digit numbering system.
    3. Around 875 A.D., the concept of zero was developed.
  5. The First Calculators: The Abacus.
    One of the very first information processors.

B. The Mechanical Age: 1450 - 1840

  1. The First Information Explosion.
    1. Johann Gutenberg (Mainz, Germany)
      • Invented the movable metal-type printing process in 1450.
    2. The development of book indexes and the widespread use of page numbers.
  2. The first general purpose "computers"
    • Actually people who held the job title "computer: one who works with numbers."
  3. Slide Rules, the Pascaline and Leibniz's Machine.
    • Slide Rule.
      Slide rule
      Early 1600s, William Oughtred, an English clergyman, invented the slide rule
      • Early example of an analog computer.
    • The Pascaline. Invented by Blaise Pascal (1623-62).
      Blaise Pascal
      The Pascaline (front)
      Pascaline (front view)
      (rear view)
      Pascaline (rear view)
      Diagram of interior
      • One of the first mechanical computing machines, around 1642.
    • Leibniz's Machine.
      Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz (1646-1716), German mathematician and philosopher.
      Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz
      The Reckoner (reconstruction)
      The Reckoner (reconstruction)
  4. Babbage's Engines
    Charles Babbage (1792-1871), eccentric English mathematician
    Charles Babbage
    • The Difference Engine.
      Difference Engine
      • Working model created in 1822.
      • The "method of differences".
    • The Analytical Engine.
      Analytical Engine
      Joseph Marie Jacquard's loom.
      Jacquard's punched card loom
      • Designed during the 1830s
      • Parts remarkably similar to modern-day computers.
        • The "store"
        • The "mill"
        • Punch cards.
      • Punch card idea picked up by Babbage from Joseph Marie Jacquard's (1752-1834) loom.
        • Introduced in 1801.
        • Binary logic
        • Fixed program that would operate in real time.
    • Augusta Ada Byron (1815-52).
      Agusta Ada Byron
    • The first programmer

C. The Electromechanical Age: 1840 - 1940.

The discovery of ways to harness electricity was the key advance made during this period. Knowledge and information could now be converted into electrical impulses.

  1. The Beginnings of Telecommunication.
    1. Voltaic Battery.
      • Late 18th century.
    2. Telegraph.
      • Early 1800s.
    3. Morse Code.
      • Developed in1835 by Samuel Morse
      • Dots and dashes.
    4. Telephone and Radio.
      • History of the telephone
        Alexander Graham Bell.
      • 1876
    5. Followed by the discovery that electrical waves travel through space and can produce an effect far from the point at which they originated.
    6. These two events led to the invention of the radio
      • Guglielmo Marconi
      • 1894
  2. Electromechanical Computing
    1. Herman Hollerith and IBM.
      Herman Hollerith (1860-1929) in 1880.
      Herman Hollerith
      Census Machine.
      Holleritch's machine
      Early punch cards.
      Hollerith's machine, detail.Punch card diagram
      Punch card workers.
      Punch card workers.
      • By 1890
      • The International Business Machines Corporation (IBM).
        • Its first logo
          IBM logo
    2. Mark 1.
      Mark 1
      Paper tape stored data and program instructions.
      Mark 1 paper tape (detail)Mark 1 paper tape contraption
      • Howard Aiken, a Ph.D. student at Harvard University
      • Built the Mark I
        • Completed January 1942
        • 8 feet tall, 51 feet long, 2 feet thick, weighed 5 tons, used about 750,000 parts

D. The Electronic Age: 1940 - Present.

  1. First Tries.
    • Early 1940s
    • Electronic vacuum tubes.
  2. Eckert and Mauchly.
    1. The First High-Speed, General-Purpose Computer Using Vacuum Tubes:
      Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC)

      The ENIAC team (Feb 14, 1946). Left to right: J. Presper Eckert, Jr.; John Grist Brainerd; Sam Feltman; Herman H. Goldstine; John W. Mauchly; Harold Pender; Major General G. L. Barnes; Colonel Paul N. Gillon.
      ENIAC team
      ENIAC - Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer
      Rear view (note vacuum tubes).
      ENIAC (rear view)
      • Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC)
        • 1946.
        • Used vacuum tubes (not mechanical devices) to do its calculations.
          • Hence, first electronic computer.
        • Developers John Mauchly, a physicist, and J. Prosper Eckert, an electrical engineer
          • The Moore School of Electrical Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania
        • Funded by the U.S. Army.
        • But it could not store its programs (its set of instructions)
    2. The First Stored-Program Computer(s)
      The Manchester University Mark I (prototype).
      Manchester University Mark I
      • Early 1940s, Mauchly and Eckert began to design the EDVAC - the Electronic Discreet Variable Computer.
      • John von Neumann's influential report in June 1945:
        • "The Report on the EDVAC"
      • British scientists used this report and outpaced the Americans.
        • Max Newman headed up the effort at Manchester University
          • Where the Manchester Mark I went into operation in June 1948--becoming the first stored-program computer.
        • Maurice Wilkes, a British scientist at Cambridge University, completed the EDSAC (Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator) in 1949--two years before EDVAC was finished.
          • Thus, EDSAC became the first stored-program computer in general use (i.e., not a prototype).
    3. The First General-Purpose Computer for Commercial Use: Universal Automatic Computer (UNIVAC).
      UNIVAC publicity photo.
      UNIVAC publicity shot
      • Late 1940s, Eckert and Mauchly began the development of a computer called UNIVAC (Universal Automatic Computer)
        • Remington Rand.
        • First UNIVAC delivered to Census Bureau in 1951.
      • But, a machine called LEO (Lyons Electronic Office) went into action a few months before UNIVAC and became the world's first commercial computer.
  3. The Four Generations of Digital Computing.
    1. The First Generation (1951-1958).Vacuum tubes
      1. Vacuum tubes as their main logic elements.
      2. Punch cards to input and externally store data.
      3. Rotating magnetic drums for internal storage of data and programs
        • Programs written in
          • Machine language
          • Assembly language
            • Requires a compiler.
    2. The Second Generation (1959-1963).Transistors
      1. Vacuum tubes replaced by transistors as main logic element.
        • AT&T's Bell Laboratories, in the 1940s
        • Crystalline mineral materials called semiconductors could be used in the design of a device called a transistor
      2. Magnetic tape and disks began to replace punched cards as external storage devices.
      3. Magnetic cores (very small donut-shaped magnets that could be polarized in one of two directions to represent data) strung on wire within the computer became the primary internal storage technology.
        • High-level programming languages
          • E.g., FORTRAN and COBOL
    3. The Third Generation (1964-1979).
      Computer chipChip, one 1/100 of inch
      Typical mainframe computer set-up circa 1967
      1. Individual transistors were replaced by integrated circuits.
      2. Magnetic tape and disks completely replace punch cards as external storage devices.
      3. Magnetic core internal memories began to give way to a new form, metal oxide semiconductor (MOS) memory, which, like integrated circuits, used silicon-backed chips.
        • Operating systems
        • Advanced programming languages like BASIC developed.
          • Which is where Bill Gates and Microsoft got their start in 1975.
    4. The Fourth Generation (1979- Present).
      1. Large-scale and very large-scale integrated circuits (LSIs and VLSICs)
      2. Microprocessors that contained memory, logic, and control circuits (an entire CPU = Central Processing Unit) on a single chip.
        • Which allowed for home-use personal computers or PCs, like the Apple (II and Mac) and IBM PC.
          • Apple II released to public in 1977, by Stephen Wozniak and Steven Jobs.
            • Initially sold for $1,195 (without a monitor); had 16k RAM.
          • First Apple Mac released in 1984.
          • IBM PC introduced in 1981.
            • Debuts with MS-DOS (Microsoft Disk Operating System)
        • Fourth generation language software products
          • E.g., Visicalc, Lotus 1-2-3, dBase, Microsoft Word, and many others.
          • Graphical User Interfaces (GUI) for PCs arrive in early 1980s
            • MS Windows 1985
              MS Windows debuts in 1983, but is quite a clunker.
              • Windows wouldn't take off until version 3 was released in 1990
            • Apple Mac 1984
              Apple's GUI (on the first Mac) debuts in 1984.


  1. Kenneth C. Laudon, Carol Guercio Traver, Jane P. Laudon, Information Technology and Systems, Cambridge, MA: Course Technology, 1996.
  2. Stan Augarten, BIT By BIT: An Illustrated History of Computers (New York: Ticknor & Fields, 1984).
  3. R. Moreau, The Computer Comes of Age: The People, the Hardware, and the Software, translated by J. Howlett (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1984).
  4. Telephone History Web Site., accessed 1998.
  5. Microsoft Museum., accessed 1998.