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Technology Science

Deconstructing the PC Revolution 103

coondoggie writes to mention that room-sized computers and other recollections were shared over the weekend at the Vintage Computer Festival in Silicon Valley. "About 200 people, many of them of the gray-haired pony tail, bifocals and middle-age paunch variety, attended the event at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif."
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Deconstructing the PC Revolution

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  • From the article (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Wellington Grey ( 942717 ) on Monday November 05, 2007 @01:27PM (#21244077) Homepage Journal
    From the article: One of the first microprocessors on the market, the Intel 4004 introduced in 1971, featured 4-bit computing, a 750KHz clock, completed 75,000 instructions per second, held 4KB of ROM and 640 bytes of RAM.

    "By today's standards, this is totally unremarkable," said Tim McNerney


    Unremarkable is a 5-year old processor. But when things are the first of their kind, they will always be remarkable by any standard.

    -Grey [silverclipboard.com]
    • 750KHz clock, completed 75,000 instructions per second
      1/10 of an instruction per clock cycle. Current procs can do what, 2 or 3 per clock cycle on a good day? Funny how almost every facet of computing has scaled up or down by multiple orders of magnitude, but 40 years later we have only bumped IPC by 20x.

      Gotta love an industry where a 20x improvment by any measure could be considered "paltry" :-)
      • by yarbo ( 626329 )
        it's been a few years since I looked at IPC, but I believe you only get 2-3 instructions per clock if all your data is in the L1 cache and you're not branching very often. Every branch misprediction forces you to flush the pipeline, which is 20 stages on the Northwood Pentium 4. Hyperthreading helps somewhat in that you get to keep another thread going while you wait to fill the pipe again. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
  • by Wellington Grey ( 942717 ) on Monday November 05, 2007 @01:31PM (#21244121) Homepage Journal
    From the article: The refrigerator-sized machine stored just 5Mb of data. Hoagland's PowerPoint presentation on the restoration project, at 9.16MB, would have crashed it.

    I'll bet that the old guys who wrote it were smart enough to actually check the size of a file before copying it -- you know, actually worrying about resource management. Not like these young pups who think that CPU speeds and hard disk space are so large as to be infinite and not worth bothering with.

    -Grey [wellingtongrey.net]
    • by wizardforce ( 1005805 ) on Monday November 05, 2007 @01:37PM (#21244227) Journal

      Not like these young pups who think that CPU speeds and hard disk space are so large as to be infinite and not worth bothering with.
      no, software bloat took care of that. You can't tell me there isn't something wrong with the fact that a computer with 20x less power can do the same basic things as a modern computer.
      • by mcleland ( 620018 ) on Monday November 05, 2007 @02:01PM (#21244527)
        Yes, things like: -Halo -Video editing -Statistical analysis for hundreds of thousands of data points -Half-Life -Videoconferencing -Google Earth Sure, software has bloated, but remember all these things you couldn't do in any reasonable amount of time on an older machine. Sorry for being obvious.
        • by wizardforce ( 1005805 ) on Monday November 05, 2007 @02:11PM (#21244683) Journal

          Yes, things like: -Halo -Video editing -Statistical analysis for hundreds of thousands of data points -Half-Life -Videoconferencing -Google Earth Sure,
          no no no... those are all examples of work which inherantly requires more computational work. What I meant was that it is that there exists no reason what so ever that modern operating systems require at least 300 megabytes of RAM to render a basic GUI when a computer with 32 megs can do it *better* than that. Go ahead, try it some time, try and use a modern OS on 32 megs- see how far you get. Now try loading an old OS, not too old as to not be able to load whatever software you require and you will find that it runs faster on older platforms than it does a modern one. Fascinating isn't it? And before anyone suggests that security is the reason- that's also a lie. Properly configured an old OS is still pretty safe and very usable. Many are supported by long term security patch efforts and work just fine.
          • by mini me ( 132455 ) on Monday November 05, 2007 @03:10PM (#21245535)

            What I meant was that it is that there exists no reason what so ever that modern operating systems require at least 300 megabytes of RAM to render a basic GUI when a computer with 32 megs can do it *better* than that.

            Yes, there is a good reason. The market isn't willing to pay someone to spend the time to fit a modern GUI into 32MB of RAM. It's much more cost effective for everyone to just have 300MB of RAM instead.
            • by kv9 ( 697238 )

              Yes, there is a good reason. The market isn't willing to pay someone to spend the time to fit a modern GUI into 32MB of RAM. It's much more cost effective for everyone to just have 300MB of RAM instead.

              thank $DEITY for open source then. for example X and OpenBox run fine on a 32M system. now it also depends what you mean by "modern". I think OB is pretty modern: it has multiple desktop support, awesome key bindings, launcher etc. modern can mean simple and efficient, not just bloated.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by gad_zuki! ( 70830 )
            >Fascinating isn't it?

            No it isnt. It takes only a coulpe hours for a non-technical person to learn how to operate a modern OS becuase of all the GUI-ness, wizards, etc. Modern applications dont even ship with manuals.

            Now put them in front of a box running DOS 6.22 and well, you can figure it out.

            OSs do a lot more. A lot. Maybe not for the "im too kewl for school" elitist like yourself, but for the common person they've brought computing to the home.
            • by mdwh2 ( 535323 )
              I don't think it's unreasonable for modern OSs to take advantage of typical modern PCs, but...

              No it isnt. It takes only a coulpe hours for a non-technical person to learn how to operate a modern OS becuase of all the GUI-ness, wizards, etc. Modern applications dont even ship with manuals.

              Now put them in front of a box running DOS 6.22 and well, you can figure it out.


              You can't say that modern machines are needed for a GUI, as platforms had GUIs over 20 years ago, running on an ancient 68000 processor and les
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              "Now put them in front of a box running DOS 6.22 and well, you can figure it out."

              Depends on what you are trying to get them to do. The librarians at the Queens public library don't use a GUI to manage transactions. Everything from checking in/out books to issuing library cards is handled by a console app, and I've seen 80 year old librarians do it with no problem. The keys are plainly labeled on screen. The bar code ready just acts as a keyboard, and enters a single line of text followed by a newline

          • What I meant was that it is that there exists no reason what so ever that modern operating systems require at least 300 megabytes of RAM to render a basic GUI when a computer with 32 megs can do it *better* than that. Go ahead, try it some time, try and use a modern OS on 32 megs- see how far you get. Now try loading an old OS, not too old as to not be able to load whatever software you require and you will find that it runs faster on older platforms than it does a modern one. Fascinating isn't it?

            I don't know. On Linux you can run all kinds of window managers, from those that give you just a blank screen to begin with to those with 3d OpenGL swanky shit. So if you need to squeeze out as much of RAM/CPU as possible without going to console, you can do that to. What's however definitely fascinating is how even today I don't know of any simple scripting/programming of GUI. That cannot be that complicated to make it real simple, at least some decent functionality if not every single GUI feature.

        • Nonsense. All that power is wasted on fancy graphics in Halo.

          >N
          >You are in a large room, surrounded by the Flood.
          >I
          >You are carrrying a shotgun, a plasma rifle, and 2 frag grenades.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by p0tat03 ( 985078 )

        And take twice as long to develop for, generate codebases that are 10 times more difficult to maintain... Computing power in general is being put to very good use. Look at Expose on Mac OS X, it can render *all* of your windows in real-time in an arrayed view. This is extremely useful for multitaskers who need to be able to get an overview of all of their open tasks, and switch between them quickly. Try doing that on a 100MHz machine (20 times slower than a 2GHz "modern" CPU).

        Or heck, voice recognition in

        • Or text-to-speech output, for visually impaired people, without the stuttering stilted sounds of yester-year, only possible because we have so many cycles to put towards it.
          The Macintosh 128k on the 1984 presentation sounded pretty well, and it had an 8 MHz CPU.
          • by p0tat03 ( 985078 )

            Pretty well? I know exactly how that one sounds like, and compared to modern text-to-speech output the difference is night and day. Where one was marginally intelligible if you listen intently enough, with very jarring and audible gaps where phenomes changed, the new ones had proper sentence pacing, proper transfer between phenomes, and a host of stuff that makes it sound like natural human speech. Even playing with stuff rom the late '90s there are still relatively simple sentences that the TTS system will

        • by BranMan ( 29917 )
          Sorry, can't resist shooting this down. While I haven't heard of someone writing an app to do what Expose on the Mac OS does, EVERY single one of the other tasks you mention was done, as slick as you can ask for, back in 1985 on the 32-bit Amiga OS - including photo and video production that was not surpassed on the PC for another 15 years. All with the stock 7Mhz processors (though, to be correct, the video production stuff was typically done on a 40Mhz processor).

          If you l
      • Hell, an abacus can do the 'same basic things' as a modern computer. As a strawman, your argument is a sucess. It fails however when you move beyond abstract 'basic things' into the real world.
      • Usability (Score:5, Insightful)

        by msimm ( 580077 ) on Monday November 05, 2007 @02:11PM (#21244679) Homepage
        I feel like the bloat argument has been being over-used lately. Yes, computers are more powerful and doing similar tasks. But they also tend to be more user friendly and over all the user experience is much nicer. They also have to cater to a much broader audience then they used to.
        • Re:Usability (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Ephemeriis ( 315124 ) on Monday November 05, 2007 @02:26PM (#21244933)

          I feel like the bloat argument has been being over-used lately. Yes, computers are more powerful and doing similar tasks. But they also tend to be more user friendly and over all the user experience is much nicer. They also have to cater to a much broader audience then they used to.

          I realize that our modern-day computers do all sorts of things that the old machines didn't... You didn't see a whole lot of streaming video playback, or MP3s on those old machines. But, really, those are specific applications - specific tasks. The OS itself really isn't being asked to do much more than it had to do 10 or 20 years ago.

          And when it comes down to simple tasks that we've been doing for years - something like word processing - there really isn't a good reason why my computer has to be 20 times more powerful than it used to be just to accomplish the same goals.

          Look at an old machine running an old version of Word, and then look at something shiny and new running Vista and Word 2007. The new machine requires gobs more RAM, faster CPU, tons more drive space, and a fairly beefy GPU...all to do exactly the same thing the old one did. Why?

          Sure, I'd expect to need a nicer machine for 3D games, MP3s, streaming video... But why are the system requirements for a simple word processor so much higher than they used to be? Bloat. Yes, there are new features in there...some of them are genuinely useful... But a lot of it is simply overhead - new GUI, new graphics, different animated things, a pile of new templates, some clip art... Stuff that really has almost nothing to do with actually processing words.

          There's a reason the bloat argument seems overused lately - it's because bloat is showing up everywhere and people are complaining about it.
          • again, it's features. Your copy of Office 2007 can do a lot more then your original word processor. Same can be said (hesitantly) for Aero and the host of other new features in Microsoft's latest release. Some users fit into the 'less is more' category (at least some of the time) but I'd argue more users like being able to do more even if in some ways that means they have less. Otherwise we'd be running thin clients (smarter) and everyone would be happy.

            I think the bloat argument presupposes that engineer
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Ephemeriis ( 315124 )

              again, it's features. Your copy of Office 2007 can do a lot more then your original word processor.

              I will readily accept that a modern word processor will do more than, say, EDIT under DOS. But that's not what I'm talking about. Let's ignore the OS for a moment and just look at Microsoft Word.

              According to Microsoft the requirements [microsoft.com] for Word 2000 are:

              PC with a Pentium 75-megahertz (MHz) or higher processor
              32 MB of RAM for the operating system, plus an additional 4 MB of RAM for Word
              147 MB of available hard

              • by msimm ( 580077 )

                So why does 2007 require 6 times as much processing power?

                I won't try to argue that the system requirements for anything Microsoft is doing is making sense to me. But I'd guess that in some cases system requirements are derived from reasonable market assumptions based on common hardware (or minimal hardware you'd like to support). Likewise, I'd guess that some bloated software is designed based on reasonable assumptions for the target platform (sometimes right, sometimes wrong). Today we have 1 or 2 GB sys

              • I think, deep down, you already know the answer.

                1. Programmers get lazy. If you don't have to optimize, you don't. So if you're told to make it run on a 1GHz machine with 1GB of RAM, that's going to be pretty close to the minimum requirements.

                2. In the case of Microsoft, I strongly suspect they have an informal arrangement with the hardware manufacturers, whereby they continually drive hardware purchases, and the hardware manufacturers continue to prepackage Windows on the new machines. Even if there isn't
                • Programmers get lazy. If you don't have to optimize, you don't. So if you're told to make it run on a 1GHz machine with 1GB of RAM, that's going to be pretty close to the minimum requirements.

                  This, I think, is the real reason why system requirements have skyrocketed and software is so bloated these days. If you've got gigs and gigs of RAM/HDD, with CPU cycles to spare...why bother optimizing your code?

                  I don't know if I'd even attribute it to laziness... Optimizing code takes time and effort, and beyond a

            • Actually, if you don't mind a little work, you can make a more modern machine better behaved (at least if it is running Windows). By replacing the DE with Aston [astonshell.com] and replaced Windows Explorer with Xplorer2 Lite [zabkat.com] I've dropped my desktop resource usage down from nearly 60Mb to barely 4Mb. And I get a nicer Desktop than I had under Win2K/XP. According to the Aston Website it also works on Vista.

              And if you want to replace Explorer with Xplorer2 when clicking on desktop links, simply switch the link under "ed

          • by mdwh2 ( 535323 )
            But why are the system requirements for a simple word processor so much higher than they used to be? Bloat.

            If you don't like the new features, then why are you paying for the new version?
        • Yes, computers are more powerful and doing similar tasks. But they also tend to be more user friendly and over all the user experience is much nicer. They also have to cater to a much broader audience then they used to.

          I think that's mostly true of *nix systems, usability has gotten a lot better as of late- especially debian-based *nix systems. But looking at Windows OSes this doesn't seem to be as much the case. Are Windows Vista or Windows XP easier to use than say Windows 95? Why not when Windows 95

          • by mdwh2 ( 535323 )
            I think that's mostly true of *nix systems, usability has gotten a lot better as of late- especially debian-based *nix systems. But looking at Windows OSes this doesn't seem to be as much the case. Are Windows Vista or Windows XP easier to use than say Windows 95? Why not when Windows 95 only needs 1/20th the RAM to run? Are the new versions that much easier to use? Security? no that's not it either, Vista and XP still get infected with viruses and spyware like the prior versions. Software compatibility? No
        • by archen ( 447353 )
          And then there's vista...
        • by irtza ( 893217 )
          Let me unbloat that comment for ya

          I feel the bloat argument has been over-used lately. Yes, computers are more powerful and doing similar tasks, but they also tend to be more user friendly and have a nicer user experience. They also have to cater to a broader audience.

          No meaning lost and so much shorter!

          I think what most people making this argument mean is that the gains in computing do not justify the gains in system resources needed to achieve them.
      • Sure, you can call your current email client the "same basic thing" as PINE or whatever you were using a decade ago-- but that's a bit dishonest. It's like calling a Honda Civic "the same basic thing" as a covered wagon. It's not all bloat, and not all of the bloat is there for no reason.

        Some of what you think of as "bloat" is what made the applications you're using feasible in the first place. It's annoying to need the whole .net framework for some 15k utility app you downloaded, but without the .net fr
      • no, software bloat took care of that. You can't tell me there isn't something wrong with the fact that a computer with 20x less power can do the same basic things as a modern computer.

        That maybe a bit more nostalgia than what it really was. I remember having to wait for the 5" 1/4 quarters to format, waiting 6 hours to download a 200kb PCX file from a 2400baud BBS, and remember when I had to make boot disks because I couldn't get EMM386 to work for one game but I need pure 640K with no TRS to run another.

        I
    • Not like these young pups who know that CPU speeds and hard disk space are so large as to be infinite and not worth bothering with.

      There, fixed that for you.

      For the most part this assumption holds true. In the past, the bottleneck was the hardware. Today, most applications are limited by developer time/skill. Not only that, but the market's being flooded with under-qualified programmers with a certificate from a college that doesn't actually teach them anything and the good programmers have to work around that. In many ways, life would be simpler for people like me if we didn't have to worry about making the code easier for half-wi

  • Hey! (Score:5, Funny)

    by MECC ( 8478 ) * on Monday November 05, 2007 @01:31PM (#21244125)

    About 200 people, many of them of the gray-haired pony tail, bifocals and middle-age paunch variety

    ... hey!
    • by Cragen ( 697038 )
      Part of getting old is not remembering a lot, tho' at some point that has become a GOOD thing. After I read the description of the attendees, and until I realized that I do not have a pony tail, my glasses are trifocals and I have an *old-age* beer belly, I was wondering if I had attended!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      I can't read that little bitty light grey blockquote font, but I bet I know what you're objecting to.
      • Truth be told, I'm not sure which I object to more, being of the "gray-haired pony tail, bifocals and middle-age paunch variety", or being referred to as "of the gray-haired pony tail, bifocals and middle-age paunch variety".
        • by Fx.Dr ( 915071 )
          The pony tail remark I can deal with, but the bifocals and the paunch? Ageism! That's well below the belt. No hard candy for that youngster.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Calm down, gramps! It's not like they held the convention on your lawn! :P
      • by SQLGuru ( 980662 )
        My vote for most appropriate use of this particular meme I've seen......too bad I don't have the mod points and you weren't brave enough to post it yourself.

        Layne
      • by sm62704 ( 957197 )
        Damned kids today are so cowardly... (mutter mutter grumble mutter damned kids)

        -mcgrew

        PS- get off my lawn. And no, you can't have your balls back.
    • And Judging from that lowerish UID# he really does mean ... "HEY!"
  • Explaining how we would never need a massive life controlling server in our own home, which Microsoft still thinks they can sell us all via the XBox.

    • by SQLGuru ( 980662 )
      If they'd just work with the modders, I think the original Xbox would have come pretty close.....I'm actually considering modding an old one for this purpose.....

      Layne
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by ackthpt ( 218170 ) *

        If they'd just work with the modders, I think the original Xbox would have come pretty close.....I'm actually considering modding an old one for this purpose.

        What Ken was refering to was these computers which would run every aspect of the home, popular in sci-fi in the 40s and 50s. I think there was a Ma and Pa Kettle film to show how luddites would have conflict with the Home of Tomorrow.

        Honestly, to run most of what you need in your house, you could probably get by with an old Sun Sparcstation running Linux.

  • ...told their grade school age child that computers once filled whole rooms.

    I knew someone who tried to explain how a LP record works to his kids. They were incredulous. Groves recording sound?! It wasn't digital?!? No way!

    I can just imagine what kids will say a few years from now: "You carried your computers in bags?! They were that big?!"

    • by Aladrin ( 926209 )
      Oh c'mon, you can't tell me that the first time someone told you how a record player worked, you weren't amazed! I'm still amazed to this day that someone figured out how to make recordings like that. It's so primitive, and yet seems like it would be a major feat to accomplish the first time.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rueger ( 210566 )
      Groves recording sound?! It wasn't digital?!? No way!

      No Gramps, it was grooves that recorded sound. Grove's [grovemusic.com] was a paper based database that recorded biographical information about the musicians that composed and played the sound. My copy ran to two dozen volumes.
      • Groves recording sound?! It wasn't digital?!? No way!

        No Gramps, it was grooves that recorded sound. Grove's [grovemusic.com] was a paper based database that recorded biographical information about the musicians that composed and played the sound. My copy ran to two dozen volumes.
        That's what the Madonna song is about.
      • by kv9 ( 697238 )
        like, groovy, maaaan.
    • by sm62704 ( 957197 )
      What really freakes the kids out is a 45. Bigger than a CD but only holds two songs!

      -mcgrew
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by n6kuy ( 172098 )
        What really freaks the kids out is a 45.
        'Specially when you point it right at them.

        Oh wait. Is there a different kind of "45"?
  • You don't have to be "old" or even middle-aged to appreciate history.

    I'm 21, and boy, I really want to see that RAMAC head moving from platter to platter in person! Then again, I do have 3 antique tractors in my Garage...

    If it wasn't on the other side of the country, I would have gone.

    Why can't Pittsburgh, the host of the winners of the DARPA competition, get some antique PC lovin'? All we got is washing machine engines.
    • by sm62704 ( 957197 )
      Only 21? How I envy you!
    • I get a goofy grin every time I go to the Museum of American History in Washington, DC and see the truly impressive collection of gear they've got.

      Makes me want to spend some time in the not-displayed area, and see what they've got (MX missile control panels? Russian analog pneumatic computers? The mind boggles).
    • by T.E.D. ( 34228 )

      Why can't Pittsburgh, the host of the winners of the DARPA competition, get some antique PC lovin'? All we got is washing machine engines.

      That doesn't put you out of antique PC lovin'. How do you think antique hard drives rotated their platters? :-)

      As a bonus, you could use specific patterns of I/O's to physically move the units around the machine room. If you have two of them, and two programmers, you have a race! [google.com]

  • Coming from the future, Bill and Ted's time machine phonebox lands in Silicon Valley.

    Bill: "Hey Ted, I found a copy of Microsoft Vista!"
    Ted: "Vintage cr@p."
  • 'Cause he's an old hippie
    And he don't know what to do
    Should he hang on to the old
    Should he grab on to the new.

    He's an old hippie
    This new life is just a bust
    He ain't trying to change nobody
    He's just trying real hard to adjust.

    It's hit some people in Silicon Valley hard, the ones who don't keep up. Anyone who's been to the Hacker's Conference in the last decade will recognize this.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ackthpt ( 218170 ) *

      It's hit some people in Silicon Valley hard, the ones who don't keep up. Anyone who's been to the Hacker's Conference in the last decade will recognize this.

      Stay in tech for 20 years, or more, and see how you keep up. It's changing all the time. With one of those old mainframe computers you could be an expert on everything. With the great variety of things now, you have to specialise. You have to specialise very carefully. If you only do Microsoft .net security you could do very well for a salary for a spell -- that is, until something else comes along and replaces it and you have to study like a fiend to be up on it, too.

      I've been in programming for ab

      • Stay in tech for 20 years, or more, and see how you keep up.

        Myself, I've done pretty well. I've done IT for nearly 20 years now and I have to say I've stayed up on most of the trends.

        As for programming -- well, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Sure, there's Java and .NET and cool interpreted languages like Python and Perl now and distributed computing and major improvements in parallel processing and such, but then again, the death of C has been predicted for decades, but guess what? It's still alive and kicking, nearly 40 years after its ini

        • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) *

          Sure, there's Java and .NET and cool interpreted languages like Python and ...

          Hold on that thought right there, a moment. I've been doing .net for the past 4 years. It's one thing to have complete mastery of the language, but you now have to know so many other things. Unless there's others in your shop to look after such things, there are Security, Interface design, connection management, installation, revision control, etc. Writing in c was a snap as most of the time I didn't even do interfaces and security was simply making certain you validated parameters/input by way of com

      • by NullProg ( 70833 )
        Stay in tech for 20 years, or more, and see how you keep up. It's changing all the time.

        Not really. Everything is getting faster. They are refining (fine tuning) our technology but at the end of the day, the modern computer is still a 2-state binary machine. I'm getting gray hairs STILL waiting for my 3-state Quantum computer.

        With the great variety of things now, you have to specialise. You have to specialise very carefully. If you only do Microsoft .net security you could do very well for a salary for
  • Vintage computers (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sm62704 ( 957197 ) on Monday November 05, 2007 @02:00PM (#21244513) Journal
    From Growing Up With Computers (2005) [kuro5hin.org]:

    A half an hour or so later I arrived at the facility, swearing, with air conditioners in tow. To my amazement there were two guys standing outside in the snow waiting for me.

    "What the fuck do you need a God damned air conditioner in the snow for? I demanded.

    "Oh, man," one replied excitedly, "this is so cool. You have to see it!" These guys were bouncing around like kids at a birthday party. One showed me around as the other hooked up the hoses from the air conditioners and turned them on.

    Inside was what looked like a library. Every room was filled with rows and rows of what appeared to be bookshelves. However, instead of books, these shelves held printed circuit boards. There must have been thousands of them. I was duly impressed, and had nerdily forgotten about the beer I had wanted so badly.

    "Cool. But what is it for?" I asked.

    "Ahh," he said, "come in here," and led me to yet another room. This room was huge, and had little in it that I recognized. It was straight out of a science fiction movie, only less corny looking.

    "Ok," I replied stupidly, "what is it?"

    "It's a C5 simulator! Come on inside!"

    And inside the contraption was the cockpit of a C-5A cargo plane, at the time the largest aircraft in the world. We had several C5s there at Dover, which was, of course, why they needed a C5 simulator. And two SUV sized air conditioners to cool the contraption's circuitry.

    It was identical to a C5 cockpit, right down to the bolts and carpets. The only difference was that the windows were ground glass rather than clear, for projecting images on.

    They let me "fly" it. It was incredible! It sat on hydraulics, so when you accelerated, it felt like acceleration. Likewise banking, diving, etc. You could even crash the thing! This was even cooler than the other computer I had seen back when I was 12.

    Again, I lusted after a computer of my own.

    -mcgrew
  • by greenguy ( 162630 ) <estebandido AT gmail DOT com> on Monday November 05, 2007 @02:06PM (#21244611) Homepage Journal
    ...every time I deconstruct a revolution, the same thing happens. I put it all back together, and there's one piece left over, and I can't figure out where it goes.
    • by mrbcs ( 737902 )
      hehe, you have to keep deconstructing and putting it back together until you have enough spare parts to form another revolution!
    • ...every time I deconstruct a revolution, the same thing happens. I put it all back together, and there's one piece left over, and I can't figure out where it goes.
      So what would that piece be this time?
  • If you're in the Bay Area (or ever come for a visit) you should definitely visit the Computer History Museum. I lived about four blocks from there in Mountain View for a number of years, but never went because it didn't sound too interesting. Then my new company held a function there.

    It is a really great place to see the history of computers come to life. They have a number of retirees from IBM and other computer companies as docents who lead tours and know a lot about the old machines they have there. Ther
  • by sootman ( 158191 ) on Monday November 05, 2007 @02:59PM (#21245425) Homepage Journal
    Although the TRS-80 was launched the same year as the Apple II and the Commodore PET personal computers... it benefited from the distribution network and brand identity of Radio Shack.

    Oh yeah, I had forgotten about that. Is anyone else here old enough to remember when Radio Shack [theonion.com] had a positive brand identity?
    • My 1st PC was a TRS80 then it was a a Tandy w/ 3.1 I thought I had died and gone to heaven
    • by PybusJ ( 30549 )
      I learnt my first programming on a clone of the TRS-80 (the Video Genie).

      16 Kb RAM and it had graphics too -- 128x48 pixels, I seem to remember.

      Fun, even if it was MS BASIC.
    • I assume this so called era of "positve [Radio Shack] brand identity" was BEFORE the TRaSh-80 was released?
    • by d'baba ( 1134261 )
      No, no... it was Allied (RS's owner and the one with the cool catalog) that had the positive vibe. It was always "Radio Shlock".
    • by xhrit ( 915936 )
      Yes. My first PC was a Tandy 1000.
  • 'Cause he's an old hippie And he don't know what to do Should he hang on to the old Should he grab on to the new. He's an old hippie This new life is just a bust He ain't trying to change nobody He's just trying real hard to adjust. I have been in IT since 1973, still have you one trick Java Ponies for breakfast (with a weak cup of tea)

It isn't easy being the parent of a six-year-old. However, it's a pretty small price to pay for having somebody around the house who understands computers.

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