Tales of Two Computing Departments
January 25, 2006 10:41 AM   Subscribe

The exhaustive and extensively annotated Columbia University Computing History, from Brunsviga calculators to NORC to the IBM 7090 and beyond. Also, take the virtual tour of the Computer History Exhibits at Stanford's Gates Computer Science building, including stops at the Apollo Guidance Computer (DIY) and the mechanical calculators exhibit.
posted by milquetoast (5 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Yes, very cool. I remember seeing this early computer on display in the Science Center at Harvard. The thing was as big as a truck. If you like this site, you might like this memoir on early PC development.
posted by MarshallPoe at 11:02 AM on January 25, 2006

The Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC-Block II, for the savvy) was my white whale for many a year. I spent years writing a simulator for it, to be used in a Core Wars ripoff that never reached fruition.

If you were were looking for a 'puter with rope-core memory (33k), 10-bit words (+parity bit), and volatile read (ha ha), the AGC-Block II was the way to go.

posted by mad judge pickles at 11:29 AM on January 25, 2006

Very cool, thanks. I remember venturing down into the bowels of Watson in '92 to find the AcIS guys so I could grovel for an email account.

Shortly after that, I developed a serious MUD problem.
posted by mkultra at 12:32 PM on January 25, 2006

I just had a nerdgasm.
posted by Afroblanco at 1:00 PM on January 25, 2006

Charles Babbage's mechanical engines had more of an influence on electronic computers than we realize, but what we need, stylewise, is a blend of the mechanical and the digital.

Re calculators, The Calculator Reference is a great site, with much information on the finely engineered mechanical Curta.
posted by cenoxo at 2:52 PM on January 25, 2006

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