Archive
Computers
The ROBOTS Are Coming! (Dec, 1953)

Excellent article focusing on robots and computers (they didn’t really distinguish between the two at this point). Topics include: self-driving cars, robot elephants, prime number crunching computers, automatic factories, automatic sewing machines, etc. It even mentions self replicating Von Neumann machines.

The ROBOTS Are Coming!

Our civilization is being invaded by a horde of mechanical men who are determined to change our way of life. But there’s no need to worry. It’s all in the spirit of good fellowship.

By Lester David

A STRANGE, awesome army of Things is invading the planet Earth!

This is not science fiction but cold fact. The Vanguard of this army is here already and has secured a firm beachhead. A vast body of others is on the way.

These weird monsters are busy altering your world even now. Within the next several decades, after they are firmly entrenched in farm, home, laboratory and factory, your work, your habits, your entire life will be unrecognizable.

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Electric Eye Machine Finds Prime Numbers (Jun, 1933)

It’s a pity that prime number based encryption schemes were about 30 years away at this point. This thing could have been useful.

Electric Eye Solves Baffling Mathematical Problems

THROUGH the use of a photo-electric cell harnessed to complicated series of steel gears of different radii, Dr. Norman Lehmer, professor of Mathematics at the University of Southern California, has succeeded in solving certain problems that have baffled mathematicians for centuries.

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ASCII Art in 1939 (Jun, 1939)

Yes, I know the ASCII standard wan’t established until 1967, but it’s the same general idea.

Typewriter Artist Produces Pictures Like Tapestry
Pictures that resemble tapestry are produced with a typewriter by Rosaire J. Belanger, a mill worker in Saco, Me. Belanger first draws a pencil sketch on a sheet of paper, then inserts it in his typewriter and fills in the sketch with various characters to produce shading and outlines. With carbon paper, he transfers the picture onto graph paper, and copies it on blank paper.

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U.S. Steel & Univac (Nov, 1956)

U.S. Steel & Univac

United States Steel Corporation is another of the great American industries that have had the vision to realize the full benefits of Univac data-processing. For Univac, today, is providing U. S. Steel with the electronic management controls and procedures which are to revolutionize the business world of tomorrow.

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1979 Review of the Cray-1 Supercomputer (Jun, 1979)

Cool article and review about the Cray-1 the first really high end production supercomputer.

It cost $8 million and performed at blistering 80 MFLOP/s. For comparison, a Pentium 4 2.8ghz can hit about 2.5 GFLOP/s or about 31 times faster. The current supercomputer champ can handle 280 TFLOP/s or about 350,000 times faster.

Supercomputer

Incredible Cray-1 cruises at 80 million operations a second

It’s 10 times faster than the biggest IBM, with six times more memory

By JIM SCHEFTER

“Step into the computer,” said my guide.

I did, and felt the chilling sensation of moving into the megabit maw of a machine so advanced in electronic intellect that it can only talk to other machines.

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We CAN Control the Weather! (Jan, 1948)

Very interesting if somewhat optimistic article about weather prediction and control. Their secret weapon is a new computer with an very impressive (for the time) 20K of memory which will allow them to predict the weather and model the effects of any potential interventions.

To show just how off they were in terms of necessary processing power, check out the list of Weather Modeling machines on the the top 500 supercomputer list. The fastest has 1020 processors and 4TB of memory.

My favorite of their weather control techniques has to be creating giant oil slicks off the Florida coast and setting them on fire to deflect a hurricane.

We CAN Control the Weather!

The electronic computer makes it possible, says Dr. Zworykin, scientist.

BY WILLIAM WINTER, based on an interview with DR. VLADIMIR K. ZWORYKIN, Vice President and Technical Consultant, RCA Laboratories

WHEN Mark Twain made his famous quip that everyone talked about the weather but that no one ever did anything about it, he had no way of knowing that the science of electronics, even then in its infancy, not only would promise a revolution in forecasting but would show the way to actually control the elements.

Yes, thanks to electronics we soon will be able to predict in a few minutes the weather for several days ahead. Even more important, man may be able to prevent the development of hurricanes and other violent storms, or divert them, prevent killing frosts, eliminate local fogs, and even cause rain to fall in regions of drought. The benefits to aviation and agriculture alone would be tremendous, to say nothing of the direct savings in lives and property.

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First U.S. Digital Computer (Oct, 1944)

This is a fantastic article about the IBM ASCC (Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator), or Harvard Mark I. The first large-scale automatic digital computer in the USA.
Some interesting facts about the ASCC:

  • It cost $250,000 in 1944 dollars.
  • It could calculate using numbers with up to 23 signifigant digits. These were set with an array of 1,440 dials (check out the picture below)
  • It took 3/10 second for add/subtract, 5.8 for multiplication and 14.7 seconds for division.
  • It weighed 35 tons and was powered by a 2 horse-power motor. (With mhz, ghz, mb, gb, tb, dpi, ms, bps, etc don’t you think it’s time hp got back into the computer lexicon?)
  • It contained 500 miles of wire

I was surprised to see a reference to the Harvard Supercomputing laboratory. I would have thought that supercomputing was a much newer term, but according to Wikipedia, it dates from 1929.

Robot Mathematician Knows All the Answers

Thirty-five tons of dials, wheels, and wires knock out problems that would take the best human expert a lifetime.

By VOLTA TORREY

SOME boy may soon work his way through Harvard University by watching a 51-foot switchboard all night in an air-conditioned basement. Behind its polished panels, electricity will be solving the longest and most difficult mathematical problems ever conceived. It will be doing everything that is known to be mathematically possible with such numbers as 12,743,287,341,045,502,372,098.

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IBM’S high-density super-fast microcircuit (Jun, 1979)

IBM’S high-density super-fast microcircuit

Microcircuits like the V6-inch-square chip enlarged above now carry 10 times as many circuits as ordinary silicon devices. International Business Machines Corp. researchers also put more zip in their experimental chip: It’s four times faster but draws one-tenth the power of previous field-effect transistor (FET) circuits.

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New NASA Space Telescope (Sep, 1979)

The funny thing about this ad is that “NASA Space Telescope” was the original name of the Hubble Space Telescope and Perkin-Elmer is the contractor that delivered a flawed main mirror, requiring a very expensive and difficult repair mission.

Responsive Technology from Perkin-Elmer

The NASA Space Telescope: Getting ready for the clearest look yet into space

The NASA Space Telescope, scheduled for launch by the Space Shuttle in the 1980s, will orbit the earth at an altitude of 310 miles. Unlike ground-based telescopes which are restricted to a narrow spectral window and subject to distortions by the earth’s atmosphere, the Space Telescope will provide astronomers with the clearest view yet of the universe.

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THE NEW HEATHKIT PERSONAL COMPUTING SYSTEMS (Sep, 1977)

These are pretty sweet. I would love to have a kit-built paper tape reader at home.

They’re Here!
THE NEW HEATHKIT PERSONAL COMPUTING SYSTEMS

H8: 8-bit Computer $375

H11: 16-bit Computer

H9: Video Terminal

H10: Paper Tape Reader/Punch

The new VALUE-STANDARD in personal computing systems! Play exciting and challenging computer games, exercise your imagination and ingenuity with do-it-yourself creative programming, store and retrieve personal records like taxes and budgets, solve complex mathematics and scientific problems almost instantly, control your home appliances for best energy savings and efficiency — literally thousands of fascinating, exciting and practical applicatons. The Heathkit computer systems are low-priced, versatile and reliable — they’re the ones to have for REAL power and performance!

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