Whatever Happened to Computer Hobbyists?
by Louis E. Frenzel, Jr.
The microcomputer industry, a field pioneered primarily by hobbyists, is now a major U.S. enterprise. Thanks to a never-ending supply of high technology components, good software and major shifts in the marketplace, the microcomputer field is no longer the curiosity it once was.
Those responsible for building the first microcomputers, applying them to a wide variety of tasks and making us all aware of them, were computer hobbyists. But today, the big emphasis is on business, professional and industrial applications. Has the hobbyist disappeared completely? Let’s explore the changing role of the hobbyist in the dynamic micro marketplace.
A Short History of Computing
A few weeks ago a master’s degree candidate in computer science confided, with an embarrassed laugh, that he had never seen a computer. His experience with the machines of his chosen vocation had consisted entirely of submitting punched cards through a hole in a wall and later getting printed results the same way. While his opportunities to see equipment are restricted due to his student status, there are also thousands of working programmers and analysts using large scale equipment who have no contact with existing hardware and will never have a chance to see any first or second generation computers in operation.
Picture fuddling by computer
Can you identify this face? It’s a well-known President who freed the slaves and was shot in Ford’s theatre. Still stumped? Try viewing it at arm’s length, or squinting, or jiggling the page rapidly. This picture represents a Bell Labs experiment to learn the least amount of visual information a picture can contain and still be recognizable—of some concern to designers of Picture- phones. Here a computer has riven a portrait into 200 squares, each rendered in an even tone of gray along an intensity scale from one to sixteen.
Choose your course with this computerized golf game
Aim, tee off—this system shows you the next lie By BILL HAWKINS
Ah, it’s a beautiful day for golf at Pebble Beach. The water’s sparkling, the sky’s blue, and the wind—oops, forgot to program in the wind. No problem, though: Just push the right buttons and a gentle, five-knot breeze blows in from the north.
No, you can’t feel it, nor can you run your fingers through the fairway water hazard before you—but you’d better take them into account before teeing up. You’ll need more than a stroke of luck to win in this new computer-controlled Par-T-Golf game.
Tron: Computer Technology Goes Hollywood
by Jim Cavuoto
Imagine yourself in a world where software processes determine every aspect of your existence—what you think, where you go, whether you live or die. Imagine that each program in this computer world is the alter ego of some human programmer in another dimension. Imagine a world in which video games are live battles, where file manipulation is behavior control—where simulation is reality.
Some might argue that we are already approaching such a world. Computers are taking more and more functions away from human operators in the factory, in the marketplace and on the battlefield. It’s becoming hard to tell where human supervision ceases and where computer control begins.
Totally unrelated to the article, but it’s interesting to see how subtle changes to fonts can make OCR systems completely fail. ABBYY FineReader 10 (which is by far the best OCR program I’ve found), was utterly unable to read any of the bold text on top, or even recognize that it WAS text.
INTRODUCING THE HP-41C.
A WHOLE NEW STANDARD.
The new HP-41C has more than any handheld calculator HP has ever offered. More capability, flexibility, ease-of-use features and options: Memory Modules; an “extra smart” Card Reader; a Printer; The Wand — a new input device; and Application Modules.
THE SMALLER THE BETTER: NEW DIMENSIONS IN CONVERSATION
In the eye of a needle above is a transistor switch that can turn on or off in ten billionths of a second. It is an example of the micro-miniature devices that Western Electric makes today for the new Electronic Switching Systems now being put into service in the Bell telephone network.
The Wizard of Odyssey Reveals The Key to Greater Challenge.
It makes the fun go further with Odyssey2 than any other video game. The keyboard lets you program mazes and grids. Type numbers and letters on the screen. Increase skill levels. It even lets you change opponents and fields of play!
And only Odyssey2 offers—The Master Strategy Series! Each game comes with its own game board. You use it to plan your strategy.