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A quick trip down Tech's memory lane
Old 05-22-2009, 09:27 PM   #1
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A quick trip down Tech's memory lane

A lot has changed in 25 years.

Communication Evolution on Yahoo! Video
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Old 05-25-2009, 12:26 AM   #2
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Very cool, Cattusbabe. I felt a little dizzy after the clip. I remebered my IBM 8086 (late 80's) the BBS and my subscription to Prodigy, which I used a lot to research for my paper at the time - now with google, it would have been a cinch. Thinking that I can now use my iPhone to research information and communicate with colleagues during a train trip, we have come a long way and very quickly indeed. As in a Disneyland attraction: these are the best times.
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Old 05-25-2009, 08:24 AM   #3
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Heh. I don't have room to set it up in our small house, but I have an Atari 800 and a bunch of floppy disk and cartridge games to go with it boxed up in my closet. I actually liked a lot of those games better than the games today, because more went into the quality of the game play than in trying to wow you with multimedia.

Some of the stuff has become a collectors item. A handful of the original games (I still have boxes and instructions for them) have been selling for over $200 on eBay.
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Early stuff
Old 05-25-2009, 10:07 AM   #4
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Early stuff

When I was in elementary school, I remember seeing my first TV -- A Philco, with a 4" screen.

When I entered middle school (Jr. High), plastics were just beginning -- Bakelite. Electronics were tubes, with transistors just coming in.

My first car, in 1958, was a Rambler, and it had an AM radio.

I used old Merchand calculators, adding machines and a manual typewriter in college.

I remember when the IBM 370 was a new machine, using punched cards input. A little later, the PDP8 was new, as well, with punched paper tape input.

I did statistical work in Omnitab, and later, in SAS.

My first computers were a couple of little things that had to be 'programmed' in assembly code. Later, I 'graduated' to an Apple II+, and thought that 64K of memory was the greatest. Worked with Basic language and the early Visicalc. My first modem, a Zoom, operated at 300 baud.

When the first Mac came in, I 'test drove' one, managed to wipe two test disks clean, got pissed off irritated, and went with the IBM.

There was no internet. File sharing was by exchange of 5 1/4" disks.

After that, things were something of a blur.

Now I type on a 3 year old Dell laptop, don't/can't program, and live on the 'net. I no longer even pretend to be keeping up with stuff.
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Old 05-25-2009, 10:32 AM   #5
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Helped build missile computers with 64K memories. $2 million, a pop, in '68
(Still use my slide rule,sometimes - faster than the calculator)
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Old 05-25-2009, 01:31 PM   #6
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My first computers were a couple of little things that had to be 'programmed' in assembly code. Later, I 'graduated' to an Apple II+, and thought that 64K of memory was the greatest. Worked with Basic language and the early Visicalc. My first modem, a Zoom, operated at 300 baud.
Heath analog computer, Group C. All those lovely banks of matched 12AX7s, and the 'repetitive oscillator' so the calculation results could be displayed on an oscilloscope or strip chart recorder.




There are more sophisticated electronics in my stove these days, although I don't need to wire up a patch panel to bake a loaf of bread.
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Old 05-25-2009, 08:45 PM   #7
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Wow! what a stream of memories!
In college I punched gazillions of IBM cards for IBM370, later on they bought a PDP11, I guess.
I'll dig up my atari cartridges and the ti99/4a console buried somewhere in the storage. I was working for TI at the time of the home computer boom and had the privilege of playing with several new games at home before they launched them in the market. MFG in Lubbock, TX. Also tried to develop some commercial programs in basic - none suceeded, but it was fun.
Also used to market TI's TMS 4116's (16K RAM). By the time the TMS4164 was introduced, I moved to another company that equipped the engineers with apple IIs with a whoopping 10MB of HDD. Fond memories of Lotus and those apples.
Nowthe analog computer is too much - I wasn't contemporary to that. althoug the 12AX7's would fetch a good price in Japan's tube amp industry - the so called hollow state electronics.
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Old 05-26-2009, 08:45 PM   #8
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Time flies. I did find, while rooting around, my old AOL 1.0 PC disks. Maybe they will enhance my retirement funds one day.

Must confess, actually used the service on a 8088 pc with a whopping 20 Meg hard drive. Everyone wanted to know why susch a huge drive?

AOLDISK1_0.jpg
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Old 05-26-2009, 09:46 PM   #9
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In 1970 I was working on the dual CDC 6600's that the National Weather Service used for numerical weather forecasting. At the time these were the fastest machines around. We thought it was really awesome that each machine could run 7 jobs simultaneously. The drum storage drives were the size of a Volkswagon and rotated at 3000 rpm. The vibrations made your innards shake if you stood anywhere near them. Now I have more computer power sitting on my lap.

I was trying to get their Cobol version 1 compiler to work (what a dog!).
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Old 05-26-2009, 10:37 PM   #10
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None of this makes me yearn for the good ol' days of cold-starting AN/UYK-7 MILSPEC fire control & sonar computers. Frequently on the midwatch, and for extra bonus points with the CO standing behind the cluster tapping his foot impatiently.

But I know many guys who'd pay money for a chance to discharge fire extinguishers into them...
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Old 05-26-2009, 10:41 PM   #11
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As an undergrad in a basic programming course (1983, UCLA) we were still writing our programs (in "PLC" = Programming Language-Cornell) on punch cards, they were run as batch jobs on an IBM 360 mainframe. A few years later and I was at my first duty assignment, they delivered one Zenith 150 8088-based computer to our office of 8 people. It cost about $10,000 with all the peripherals and had a removable 10MB drive (just the platter came out, in a little case, so you could lock it up). 10MB! How will we ever fill THAT up! And they told us "In a few years, everyone in the office will have a computer on their desk." Yeah, right! Why would we need that? And, it would be way too expensive. Plus, my desk is already full of other stuff I need.
Well, I was wrong.
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Old 05-27-2009, 04:43 PM   #12
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Punched cards on 026's, 029's and 129's beginning '73 to the end of '78. Still have a modest collection of antique Cobol and Assembler coding forms, printer layout forms, a IBM flowcharting form I've never seen anywhere else, stainless steel ruler from Moore Business Forms, two X20-8020-1's in my desk drawer. Started on a 370/145 (usual peripherals -3330 and 3350 disks, 2540 reader/punch, 1403-N1 printer, and collection of offline unit record equipment some of which used boards wired by the operator, eventually some 3270's) w/VS1 in '73 with Fortran (actually WatFiv), Cobol, PL/1, S/370 Assembly, and for good measure learned Dec PDP-9 assembly language (editor, assembler and linker/loader loaded from paper tape as there was no disk), over the years moved through VS1 as a VM/370 guest, SVS as a VM/370 guest, then MVS 3.8 as a VM/370 guest, later native MVS which seemed like a destination at the time, even later MVS and its successors on domains and LPARs.

Never touched one but my understanding is that the CDC machines were fast in their day.

Over on IBM-Main somebody mentioned cards and somebody else asked what cards have to to with mainframe computers. I guess that's a fair question in this millennium.
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Old 05-27-2009, 05:20 PM   #13
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I was in the last graduating class at my state university (1980) that did not require any computer courses...
I do remember undergrad kids running around with shoe boxes full of punch cards, vying for run time on the mainframes...I wasn't remotely interested; didn't take any computer classes, and wound up as a tech illiterate doing PhotoShop tasks using PowerPoint here on FIRE...


Read somewhere that there is more computer power in a throw-away singing greeting card than existed in the world when we flew the Gemini space missions?
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Old 05-28-2009, 08:54 AM   #14
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Among the many great chips that have emerged from fabs during the half-century reign of the integrated circuit, a small group stands out. Their designs proved so cutting-edge, so out of the box, so ahead of their time, that we are left groping for more technology clichés to describe them. Suffice it to say that they gave us the technology that made our brief, otherwise tedious existence in this universe worth living.
IEEE Spectrum: 25 Microchips That Shook the World

A real barn-burner!
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Old 05-28-2009, 09:38 AM   #15
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mmmm Aromatherapy. My career began working on Flight Simulators. For a while I supported 1960's era F4's. That "warm" feeling of the computer room and that (probably toxic) smell is like comfort food to me. I have been stock piling early computer specimens and at some point will get a glass case to display them at the office. In college we built a PDP 11 emulator to run on a Z80.
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Old 05-28-2009, 10:01 AM   #16
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mmmm Aromatherapy. My career began working on Flight Simulators. For a while I supported 1960's era F4's. That "warm" feeling of the computer room and that (probably toxic) smell is like comfort food to me.
Does the photo below look familiar? It's from the same era - a KC-135 simulator which was moved from base to base on a railcar. Not visible is a small sign near the entrance that reads:

KC-135 Simulator
USAF Part No. 63876609209188734
1,254 "D" cells required - Batteries not included

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