COMPUTERS THAT ARE REALLY PORTABLE
By Philip L. Harrison & Margaret A. Taylor
IN 1946, the first American electronic digital computer, ENIAC (for Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator), was unveiled. It ran on 18,000 vacuum tubes, 70,000 resistors, 6,000 switches and 10,000 capacitors. It weighed more than 30 tons, occupied 1,500 square feet of floor space and consumed 140,000 watts of electricity. Commercial versions of this machine ran to the tune of $5 million.
THE OVSHINSKY INVENTION
By Norman Carlisle
Is it greater than the transistor, or is this self-taught engineer a fraud as the big companies claim?
Everyone knew that glass was an insulator, not a conductor of electricity. Everybody, that is, except a controversial independent inventor named Stanford Ovshinsky. To the consternation of orthodox scientists he’s found a way to turn glass into a conductor—a discovery that may rival that of the transistor effect.
At least that’s what Ovshinksy and a number of fellow scientists and engineers claim, thereby starting a red-hot hassle among scientists.
• you’re weary of matching one assembler instruction per one machine language instruction.
• you’re spending half of your machine time translating compiler programs into machine language programs of questionable efficiency.
• you’re using up time and money with hunt-and-peck machine language debugging and reprogramming.
Yes, that is Steve Jobs on a motorcycle.
Also be sure to check out the other great computer article from this issue: “The Chip”
HIGH TECH, HIGH RISK, AND HIGH LIFE IN Silicon Valley
By MOIRA JOHNSTON
Photographs by CHARLES O’REAR
SILICON VALLEY appears on no map, but this former California prune patch, an hour’s drive south of San Francisco, is the heartland of an electronics revolution that may prove as far-reaching as the industrial revolution of the 19th century.
It is a place where fast fortunes are made, corporate head-hunting is profitable sport, and seven-day workweeks send cutting-edge technology tumbling over itself in its competitive rush to the marketplace.
Not surprisingly, flying—fast, challenging, and risky—is a sport that appeals powerfully to Silicon Valley men such as Bob Noyce, who snatches every chance to fly his twin-engine Turbo Commander to Aspen to ski, to his Intel plant in Phoenix, or just to wheel in the sky around Silicon Valley.
How the Computer gets the answer
Photographed by HENRY GROSKINSKY
Text by ROBERT CAMPBELL
Step by step, an easy exercise reveals the workings of man’s most complex machine Two plus One—not exactly a problem to set the mind racing or to blow a computer’s fuse. Yet it is enough to send electric pulses flying through the computer’s intricate web of wires. Although we are barely in the third decade of the computer age, computers already touch the life of everyone in the U.S. Each year—each day—our involvement with these machines rises toward unimaginable levels.
Behold the Computer Revolution
By PETER T. WHITE National Geographic Staff
Illustrations by National Geographic Photographers BRUCE DALE and EMORY KRISTOF
MY WIFE IS MAD AT COMPUTERS. “Those awful machines,” she calls them. “How they mess up our credit card accounts! Imagine sending a bill for $232.24 every month for four months after you’ve paid it!”
But I’m not mad. That mixup was settled after five months; and we never did feel as computer-harassed as some Americans, notably the Kansan repeatedly reminded that his department store bill was “overdue in the amount of $00.00.” At last he too managed to pacify the computer— with a check for $00.00.
Cartridge Tape System Is Fast, Compact
Employing a new cartridge-loading technique, IBM Hypertape eliminates the need for threading and, when used in the IBM 7090 computer system, it has the ability to “read” and “write” information at twice the speed of the conventional magnetic tape system. Hypertape currently can be used as an auxiliary storage system, increasing the computer’s capability to utilize internal computing power.
The Brain Builders
“At last I came under a huge archway and beheld the Grand Lunar exalted on his throne in a blaze of incandescent blue . . . The quintessential brain looked very much like an opaque, featureless bladder with dim, undulating ghosts of convolutions writhing visibly within . . . Tiers of attendants were busy spraying that great brain with a cooling spray, and patting and sustaining it . . .”
—H. G. Wells,
The First Men in the Moon
Last week, in a pastel blue and grey room on the fifth floor of a St. Louis office building, the newest Wellsian brain in the earthly world was enthroned. This quintessential brain looked like nothing more than a collection of filing cases, stretching in a 60-ft. semicircle about the room. From within the grey metal cases came a faint humming sound; along the light-studded metallic face were scores of twinkling orange sparks, rippling like waves of thought.
Three new home computers that teach themselves – and teach you how to use them
They’re smart, they come ready to work, and one of them even talks to you
By BILL HAWKINS
PHOTOS BY ORLANDO GUERRA
Only two years ago, home computers were for the hobbyist: a jumble of wires, transistors, and circuit boards that came in a kit. And once the kit was assembled, there was complicated programming to master. Things have really changed since then.
Recently I’ve been trying three of the newest home units from APF, Atari, and Texas Instruments (first reported on in PS, Nov. ’79). They’re no more complicated to hook up than a video game. The programming can be learned in just a few evenings. External pieces, such as a printer for making permanent records, are as easy to plug in as a toaster. Best of all, the computers can teach themselves.
wanted: sales engineers to sell electronic computers
WELL ESTABLISHED MANUFACTURER IN GROWTH INDUSTRY NOW FORMING TECHNICAL SALES GROUP. The ElectroData Corporation, a subsidiary of Consolidated Engineering Corporation, one of America’s leading makers of electronic analytical instruments, needs qualified sales personnel to establish commercial applications and close sales for electronic data-processing systems. ElectroData Corporation was formerly the Electronic Computer Division of Consolidated Engineering Corporation, one of the leading designers and marketers of high quality instrumentation for science and industry, whose mass-spectrometers and recording oscillographs are the recognized standard of quality throughout the world. ElectroData Corporation will benefit from Consolidated’s 17 years of experience in technical application knowledge and management skill.