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When 1,000 words were enough
January 1, 2007 6:36 PM   Subscribe

Interviews with some early computer people at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
posted by bigbigdog (5 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Meaty. Mmm. Thank you.

Feel free to include the "nerdporn" tag if you wish. ;)
posted by loquacious at 7:01 PM on January 1, 2007


I also like this story (from here):
About 1957 a programmer at Livermore came up with the following clever scheme. I can’t imagine how he thought of this simple trick. He divided the mesh into 3 equal parts. Parts 1 and 2 were recorded on reel A which was then rewound. Part 3 was recorded on reel B which was not rewound. The calculation now commenced reading part 1 from reel A and writing onto the end of reel B. When part 1 of the array had been processed reel B was rewound and writing was switched to reel C. Part 2 of the mesh was read from reel A and written to reel C. When this was done reel B had finished rewinding and was ready to supply part 3, which was read and output went to reel C. When part 3 was finished reel C was rewound. At this point the next time step of the simulation was complete and part 1 was on the end of reel B, which had finished rewinding, while parts 2 and 3 were on reel C, which was rewinding. We now begin the next complete sweep of the mesh by reading part 1 from reel B and writing on reel A, when part 1 is done we rewind reel B and continue reading part 2 from reel C which has just finished rewinding. Part 2 is also written to reel A. When part 2 is done we rewind reel A and write part 3 to reel B. This is where we came in. We have overlapped tape rewind with the rest of the tasks with only three tape drives and reels.
posted by bigbigdog at 7:09 PM on January 1, 2007


*throws the text into a txt file, drags that to a 2GB SD card the size of a small stamp, shoves the SD card into a tiny media player barely bigger than a Zippo, all of which cost less than a fine steak dinner for one or two*


*watches the heads of a dozen oldschool computer scientists explode while they were muttering "Two billion words!? Three billion!? Five hundred billion? A trillion? What in the hell do you need a billion words for? 1000 words should be enough for anyone."*
posted by loquacious at 7:32 PM on January 1, 2007


Sounds like the genesis of Frippertronics. ... Parts 1 and 2 were recorded on reel A which was then rewound. Part 3 was recorded on reel B which was not rewound. The calculation now commenced reading part 1 from reel A and writing onto the end of reel B. When part 1 of the array had been processed reel B was rewound and writing was switched to reel C. Part 2 of the mesh was read from reel A and written to reel C. When this was done reel B had finished
posted by Gungho at 8:34 PM on January 1, 2007


Awesome stuff, thanks.
posted by equalpants at 9:41 PM on January 1, 2007


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