October 1, 2022

Tales from the attic: Early computers

No photo description available.

Sam Smith - Loading a 5MB IBM hard drive in 1956. A couple of years earlier my math teacher, Miss Darnell had gone to Harvard for the summer to learn about computers. She had, in fact, almost been locked in one overnight because the machines of the day, with their innumerable vacuum tubes, occupied whole buildings while barely doing the work of an early Mac. (While I don't know the size of the one that almost swallowed her, a couple of years later Harvard acquired a UNIVAC, which had 7,000 tubes and 500 miles of wiring.) Miss Darnell came back and taught us the basis of boolean algebra. I wouldn't see a computer for twenty years, but when I did they didn't scare me.


Greg Gerritt said...

In 1975 I used to delibver punch cards to the computer at the University of Georgia for a professor. Other than the front desk, ther computer took up the whole building.

bernard cleyet said...

A few years ago S. S. posted the pic. of a large mainframe being hoisted into a building. It was an Elliott Automation. I think I failed to reply that it was the machine on which I did the data analysis, etc. for my PhD research at Keele in England. This was early -- 1967=>69. The year before I used DEC PDP8. The Elliott was much better, because it used McBean cards (Punch cards) It was very fast. Line printed out the results of my data bam, bam bam -- about as fast one can say bam. bam, bam. I think 88 character/line. It had a plotter, but I never got around to leaning to programming it. Too bad, my disst. has hand plotted on paper. I still have the two inch stack of one of the programs.

Disst here: https://eprints.keele.ac.uk/5972/1/CleyetPhD1973.pdf

Back in 1961 I worked for a computer company. I have fun telling people that they made not a desk top but a desk computer. The was a flat spot intended as a writing desk. It's memory was so small that one had to compile and then run the complied tape (punched paper) to run the operating. The compiler and operating programs were on tapes. It used FORTRAN II and the Elliott used Algol 60 (very similar to Fortran -- don't remember the DEC.)
Now I have an M II Air, My first was a Z80 Sinclair -- best basic I ever used; why? Because a University physics dept. wrote it. Have much more detail about early computers