Join 3,555 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)

49 posts tagged with computers and history. (View popular tags)
Displaying 1 through 49 of 49. Subscribe:

Internet Archive Digital Residencies

Each week, the Internet Archive's tumblr account is completely transformed by a digital resident along a theme of their choosing. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Mar 18, 2014 - 3 comments

David Bradley, IBM engineer, and father of the three-finger salute

David Bradley is an engineer, one of the 12 strategists who worked around the clock to hammer out a plan for hardware, software, manufacturing setup and sales strategy for the first IBM PC from 1980-1981. At that time, Bradley and others were tired of wasting time rebooting the system without powering it down. So, one day he had something like "write keyboard shortcut to reboot system" on list of things to do, and Control-Alt-Delete was created. Years later, he said "I may have invented it, but I think Bill made it famous." (YouTube) [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Aug 8, 2013 - 21 comments

Lucy Kellaway's 'History of Office Life'

A series of BBC News Magazine articles on the office as workplace: (i) How the office was invented; (ii) The ancient Chinese exam that inspired modern job recruitment (previously); (iii) The invention of the career ladder; (iv) The arrival of women in the office; (v) Do we still need the telephone?; (vi) Are there too many managers?; (vii) The era of the sexually charged office; (viii) The decline of privacy in open-plan offices; (ix) How the computer changed the office forever and (x) Why did offices become like the home?—by columnist Lucy Kellaway. [more inside]
posted by misteraitch on Aug 2, 2013 - 22 comments

"They didn't know what they were doing, so they tried everything"

"The Future of Programming" by Bret Victor, July 9, 1973.
posted by mrgrimm on Jul 31, 2013 - 28 comments

Cortex considers this list worthless without Rogue

Professor Matthew Kirschenbaum, as part of his larger interest in the problem of software preservation, asks the provocative question What are the 10 most influential software programs of all time?
posted by Horace Rumpole on Jul 30, 2013 - 93 comments

Lotus 1-2-3 is 30 years old.

Lotus 1-2-3 is 30 years old.
posted by chunking express on Jan 30, 2013 - 41 comments

How Microsoft blew it

Microsoft’s low-octane swan song was nothing if not symbolic of more than a decade littered with errors, missed opportunities, and the devolution of one of the industry’s innovators into a “me too” purveyor of other companies’ consumer products. ... How did this jaw-dropping role reversal happen? How could a company that stands among the most cash-rich in the world, the onetime icon of cool that broke IBM’s iron grip on the computer industry, have stumbled so badly in a race it was winning? [more inside]
posted by Egg Shen on Jul 26, 2012 - 124 comments

The Computer Tree

The Computer Tree from Electronic Computers Within the Ordnance Corps. More computer chronology, including this list of fictional computers at Wikipedia.
posted by OmieWise on Jun 14, 2012 - 8 comments

"To me, a personal computer should be small, reliable, convenient to use and in expensive."

Steve Wozniak introduces the Apple II
posted by Artw on May 18, 2012 - 30 comments

Redefining "big iron"

The world's first general-purpose, programmable computer was Charles Babbage's mechanical Analytical Engine, which was a formidable accomplishment even if the cost of its construction was prohibitive. While Babbage focused on engineering challenges, mathematician Ada Lovelace wrote the first program for the Analytical Engine, and provided some important insights into the power of a programmable computer. Unfortunately, Babbage never completed an Analytical Engine. Mike James has written an interesting piece on his blog speculating about how our world would be different a working Analytical Engine had been constructed. This topic also was covered in William Gibson and Bruce Sterling's 1990 novel, "The Difference Engine", a seminal work in the steampunk genre. It's interesting to think about how the world would be different had engineers and scientists had access to fast, high-speed computers a hundred years before the birth of UNIVAC. [more inside]
posted by wintermind on Dec 28, 2011 - 33 comments

How Computers Work

How Computers Work. Recently recovered & scanned in by the good folks at BoingBoing, this was an early textbook explaining the fundamental concepts & inner workings of modern computing systems. I believe a slightly different edition of this book was my own introduction to computers when I was in 6th grade or so, which explains a lot about my approach to using them.
posted by scalefree on Dec 22, 2011 - 44 comments

Mr Jobs comes to Lund

In 1985, Apple started the "Apple University Consortium Europe" collaboration program, and one of the first universities to enroll was that of Lund, Sweden. To celebrate the collaboration, Apple CEO Steve Jobs came to Lund - and a 16 minute film of his visit has now been found and been made available by the University of Lund. You can see the clip here (.mov).
posted by mr.marx on Dec 16, 2011 - 5 comments

Leisure Suit Larry

Leisure Suit Larry is a series of adventure games written by Al Lowe and published by Sierra from 1987 to 2009. The main character, whose full name is Larry Laffer, is a balding, dorky, double entendre-speaking, leisure suit-wearing (but still somewhat lovable) "loser" in his 40s. The games follow him as he spends much of his life trying (usually unsuccessfully) to seduce attractive women. [more inside]
posted by Trurl on Dec 7, 2011 - 68 comments

UNIVAC

To meet this need for high speed data processing, the scientists and technicians of the Eckert-Mauchly division of Remington Rand have created a miracle of electronic development: UNIVAC! [more inside]
posted by Trurl on Oct 7, 2011 - 8 comments

X day

OS X is X today! Meanwhile, Bertrand Serlet, father of OS X, is leaving apple.
posted by Artw on Mar 24, 2011 - 123 comments

The Genesis and History of the Macintosh Project

This is a short history and background of the Macintosh research project on the eve of its becoming a product.
posted by Joe Beese on Feb 14, 2011 - 12 comments

"It's very sad when it rains in a cathedral"

EMS electronic music pioneer Dr. Peter Zinovieff discusses the story of computers and early electronic music. Transcript here. [more inside]
posted by ifjuly on Nov 26, 2010 - 9 comments

You're Stealing it Wrong: 30 Years of Inter-Pirate Battles

You're Stealing it Wrong: 30 Years of Inter-Pirate Battles. A presentation at DefCon by Jason Scott.
posted by chunking express on Oct 9, 2010 - 22 comments

The Works

The Works was a production of the Computer Graphics Lab at the New York Institute of Technology, and (had it ever been finished) would have been the first all 3D CGI feature film. Here are some stills and here's a short clip. [via PopCrunch]
posted by brundlefly on Jun 10, 2010 - 17 comments

The $22 Billion What-If?

Afraid that Jobs' wild spending and Woz's recurrent "flights of fancy" would cause Apple to flop, Wayne decided to abdicate his role as adult-in-chief and bailed out after 12 days. Terrified to be the only one of the three founders with assets that creditors could seize, he sold back his shares for $800. An interview with Apple Computer co-founder Ron Wayne (he also designed Apple's first logo). Had he held out, his shares today would be worth $22 billion.
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot on Jun 4, 2010 - 49 comments

Salvador Allende's Internet

Cybersyn (or Synco, in Spanish) was computer network constructed in 1970 by an English/Chilean team headed by cyberneticist Stafford Beer (his papers). Cybersyn was an electronic nervous system for the Chilean economy, linking together mines, factories and so on, to better manage production and give workers a clear idea of what was in demand and where. The network was destroyed by the army after the 1973 coup. Later that year Stafford Beer drew upon the lessons of Cybersyn to write Fanfare for Effective Freedom, a eulogy for Allende and Cybersyn, and Designing Freedom, a series of six lectures he gave for CBC, outlining his ideas. Besides the first link in this post, the best place to start is this Guardian article from 2003. If you want to go more in-depth, read Eden Medina's Designing Freedom, Regulating a Nation: Socialist Cybernetics in Allende’s Chile. And if nothing else, just take a look at the amazing Cybersyn control room.
posted by Kattullus on Mar 21, 2010 - 32 comments

The Internet - Where You And I Will Be Spending The Rest Of Our Lives

In the beginning of 1995 before the release of the first graphic browser, Clifford Stoll Of Newsweek said "After two decades online, I'm perplexed. It's not that I haven't had a gas of a good time on the Internet. I've met great people and even caught a hacker or two. But today, I'm uneasy about this most trendy and oversold community." Via Metachat.
posted by The Whelk on Feb 21, 2010 - 70 comments

BBS documentary author tries to raise funds work full-time on computer history

Mefi's own Jason Scott (jscott) wants to raise $25,000 using waxy's Kickstarter to work full-time on computer history. He made BBS documentary (previously), founded the Archive Team, and owns textfiles.com (previously) and, yes, sockington. So far, 237 people have pledged $20,340. On Nov. 4, Jason did a 5-hours, non-stop Scottathon. Apparently, fundraising ain't easy. [more inside]
posted by Monday, stony Monday on Nov 8, 2009 - 38 comments

A Geek Itinerary

Technology innovation will be a large part of late 20th century American history. Now the gearheads can explore the roots of all that geekdom. The Geek's Guide to Seattle is a virtual tour of some of the region’s most interesting and notable technology locations. A Geek's Tour of Silicon Valley hits hotspots there. Don't forget The Tech Museum and the Computer History Museum. Back east, there's Research Triangle Park (pdf) in North Carolina, and The Computing Revolution at the Museum of Science in Boston.
posted by netbros on Aug 28, 2009 - 8 comments

1965 - Kemeny and Kurtz go to 1964

A Brief, Incomplete, and Mostly Wrong History of Programming Languages
posted by Artw on May 8, 2009 - 47 comments

Click click victorious, buzz buzz glorious, Long to reign over us, buzz buzz click click.

The first known recording of a digital computer playing music, recorded by the BBC in 1951. The music played on a Ferantti Mark 1, one of the first commercial general-use computers, and was entered via punchtape and played on a speaker usually used for making clicks and tones to indicate program progress.
posted by Artw on Jun 18, 2008 - 14 comments

640K ought to be enough for anybody

The History of Computing Project is a collaborative effort to record and publish the history of the computer and its roots. The site includes a chronological timeline, biographies of computing pioneers, a look at computing hardware through the years, as well as software and games. [more inside]
posted by netbros on May 9, 2008 - 11 comments

The thirtieth birthday of online communities

During a January blizzard thirty years ago in Chicago, Ward Christensen and Randy Seuss came up with the idea for a computerized bulletin board system. One month later on February 16, 1978, the first public online community was officially established, and it was named CBBS. [more inside]
posted by SteveInMaine on Feb 16, 2008 - 26 comments

"The problem with Microsoft is they just have no taste. They have no taste and I don't mean that in a small way, I mean that in a big way."

Triumph of the Nerds is a 1996 three-part documentary recounting the rise of the personal computer, including interviews with Gates, Wozniak and Jobs, among others. It was originally produced for British television, and aired on PBS in the USA. Part One: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Part Two: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Part Three: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Transcripts here. After you watch, you can play the "Guess the Computer" game.
posted by amyms on Sep 29, 2007 - 19 comments

CRAYON!

Before RSS and personalized aggregators such as Personalized Google and NetVibes, there was CRAYON, a service that allowed you to "CReAte Your Own Newspaper" by providing a page with links to chosen sources. [mi]
posted by divabat on Mar 28, 2007 - 11 comments

The Red Hill Guide to Computer Hardware

The Red Hill Guide is an amazingly detailed and well-written compendium of desktop hardware old and new, with a focus on PC and x86 compatibles. Look for your first CPU, hard drive or mainboard.
posted by loquacious on Jan 6, 2007 - 40 comments

When 1,000 words were enough

Interviews with some early computer people at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
posted by bigbigdog on Jan 1, 2007 - 5 comments

In the olden days, before 1984, not very many people used computers....

Apple Computer 1984 Newsweek Advertising Insert :: a complete scan of Apple's 16-page advertising insert in Newsweek magazine, introducing the new and revolutionary Macintosh computer.
posted by anastasiav on Apr 26, 2006 - 55 comments

ARPAnet

Computer Networks: The Heralds of Resource Sharing (Google video) A fascinating 30 minute documentary about ARPAnet - the precursor to today's Internet. (Can you spot the real ubernerd mover and shaker at BBN? Hint: He wears no tie!) (via: all over the place)
posted by loquacious on Mar 19, 2006 - 30 comments

What the Dormouse Said

California Dreaming: A True Story of Computers, Drugs and Rock 'n' Roll (Reg. req'd) Engineers can be so cute. In the early 1960's, Myron Stolaroff, an employee of the tape recorder manufacturer Ampex, decided to prove the value of consuming LSD. So he set up the International Foundation for Advanced Study and went about his project in classic methodical fashion.

But John Markoff, a senior writer for The New York Times who covers technology, makes a convincing case that for the swarming ubergeeks assembling in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1960's, approaching drugs as they might any other potentially helpful tool or device - from a soldering iron to a computer chip - was only natural. The goals were broad in the 60's: the world would be remade, the natural order of things reconfigured, human potential amplified to infinity. Anything that could help was to be cherished, studied and improved.

Judging by the record presented in What the Dormouse Said, it is indisputable that many of the engineers and programmers who contributed to the birth of personal computing were fans of LSD, draft resisters, commune sympathizers and, to put it bluntly, long-haired hippie freaks.
posted by gleenyc on May 7, 2005 - 32 comments

The Bushy Tree

A clickable genealogy charting the lineage of visual interactive computing systems and user interfaces, by Bruce Damer. Some quirky/broken links, but plenty of interesting stuff there, too.
posted by carter on Mar 2, 2005 - 7 comments

Man, those things are OLD!

"Puntate. Clic." 1000Bit archives images of vintage computer adverts, magazines, manuals, and brochures, many in Italian. Also of interest: old-computers.com, the Obselete Technology Web, Rune's PC-Museum, and Dave's Old Computers. [via]
posted by monju_bosatsu on Mar 1, 2005 - 10 comments

VAX 11/780 - The Future Is Now

Geek History through T-Shirts. Shamelessly cribbed from memepool, who spotted a good one...
posted by tss on Dec 15, 2004 - 13 comments

Silicon Valley strikes again

The Computer History Museum is hosting this years Vintage Computer Festival in Mountain View, California. Featuring live demonstatrions of a Xerox Alto as well as an auction for a Commodore 64 prototype, this year promises to be fun for geeks of all ages. (via Wired)
posted by starscream on Oct 7, 2003 - 5 comments

Ahhh ... memory lane

Obsolete computers 1975-89. There's my first baby.
posted by MintSauce on Aug 22, 2003 - 51 comments

History and culture of computing

While there are a number of sites devoted to the history of computer and information technologies, their invention, design and manufacture is also a human story. So I'm glad that there are sites devoted to computing history and culture that also look at the lives of those involved. The Charles Babbage Institute and Center for the History of Information Technology, includes oral histories of engineers and 500 photographs of the Burroughs Corporation form the 1890s on. The Smithsonian Museum Division of Information Technology and Society is a gateway to a large number of 'real life' and online Smithsonian exhibitions related to the history of science and technology, including more oral histories and PDFs of the original DoD press releases for ENIAC. The Oxford University Virtual Museum of Computing includes tributes to information science pioneers, as well as much other stuff. Finally, the Silicon Valley Cultures Project is using anthropology to document the lives of many of those in the Valley.
posted by carter on Jun 22, 2003 - 6 comments

Newly Digital

Newly Digital is an electronic anthology of sorts. Due to the technological advancement of these things we call "computers", it's a subject ripe for nostalgia. As seen here by bloggers writing about their first . . .
posted by jeremias on Jun 2, 2003 - 1 comment

The Computer Photography of Arthur Lavine.

The Computer Photography of Arthur Lavine. Got a reel-to-reel fetish? Does the phrase "hand assembled ferrite core memory" make you swoon? Take a look at some old-school nerds at work for Chase Manhattan, back in the days when computers were big and expensive, and a Macintosh was a raincoat. It's an exhibit at San Diego's Computer Museum of America, which is chock full of goodies. Check out the slide show exhibit too.
posted by condour75 on Nov 8, 2002 - 6 comments

www.computerhistory.org

www.computerhistory.org is the virtual incarnation of computer historian and collector Michael Williams' phat-ass computer museum. My favourite, BTW, is the timeline, searchable by year or topic. What technological milestones occured in the year of your birth?
posted by stuporJIX on Feb 15, 2002 - 8 comments

NYT celebrates 40 (or so) years of FORTRAN

NYT celebrates 40 (or so) years of FORTRAN
The computer language that started it all is remembered in this breezy Times article (reg. req.'d.). [I think it has to do with some recent reunion of original team-members, but any contemporary event to rationalize printing this is buried in the copy.] Do something high-level with your computer today to commemorate. Here's an ibiblio.org text with more information.
posted by rschram on Jun 13, 2001 - 5 comments

Soviet Computer Technology

Soviet Computer Technology circa 1988 (Google Cache).
posted by mutagen on Apr 22, 2001 - 7 comments

The Story of Mel

The Story of Mel - Almost everyone's seen the Story of Mel on USENET or via email... the story of the guy who wrote programs for a particular ancient drum computer by using the characteristics of the drum to handle memory allocation and time delays. In a footnote on the Jargon File, it seems that his last name is known... An interesting footnote to an interesting and probably true story.
posted by SpecialK on Apr 7, 2001 - 5 comments

The US Government should buy it and make it a national monument.

The US Government should buy it and make it a national monument. PARC up for sale? I didn't realize that Xerox was hurting so badly.
posted by Steven Den Beste on Oct 19, 2000 - 4 comments

I never understood folks who were into this until I equated them with antique car collectors.
posted by Avogadro on Sep 14, 2000 - 11 comments

Page: 1