January 23, 2012

Computer History Museum -- part 1 of 2


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photo by Donald Kinney

UNIVAC console at Computer History Museum.

UNIVAC-1 was the first commercial computer made in the United States. The main memory consisted of tanks of liquid mercury implementing delay line memory, arranged in 1000 words of 12 alphanumeric characters each. The first machine was delivered on 31 March 1951.

UNIVAC is the name of a business unit and division of the Remington Rand company formed in 1950. In 1955 Remington Rand merged with Sperry Corporation. UNIVAC is an acronym for UNIVersal Automatic Computer.



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photo by Donald Kinney

Machines need our input as variables, and we need a method to decipher their calculations and logic. And what could be more fun than reading rows and rows of counters that look like clocks, day after day...



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photo by Donald Kinney

Tape. Yes I remember tape. My Spanish lessons in high-school were tangled in Scotch magnetic tape. Didn't make my life much easier. I still don't speak much Spanish--not to imply that tape was the culprit.



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photo by Donald Kinney

The MITS Altair 8800 was a microcomputer design from 1975 based on the Intel 8080 CPU and sold by mail order through advertisements in Popular Electronics, Radio-Electronics and other hobbyist magazines. The designers hoped to sell only a few hundred build-it-yourself kits to hobbyists, and were surprised when they sold thousands in the first month.

The Altair also appealed to individuals and businesses who just wanted a computer and purchased the assembled version. Today the Altair is widely recognized as the spark that led to the microcomputer revolution of the next few years: The computer bus designed for the Altair was to become a de facto standard in the form of the S-100 bus, and the first programming language for the machine was Microsoft's founding product, Altair BASIC.
(((source:  Wikipedia)))



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photo by Donald Kinney

In the 1970s Commodore was one of many electronics companies selling calculators designed around Dallas-based Texas Instruments (TI) CPU chips. However, in 1975 TI increased the price of these components to the point where the chip set cost more than an entire TI calculator, and the industry that had built up around it was frozen out of the market.

Commodore responded to this by searching for a chip set they could purchase outright. They quickly found MOS Technology, who were in the process of bringing their 6502 microprocessor design to market, and with whom came Chuck Peddle's KIM-1 design, a small computer kit based on the 6502. At Commodore, Peddle convinced Jack Tramiel that calculators were a dead-end. In September 1976 Peddle got a demonstration of Jobs and Wozniak's Apple II prototype, when Jobs was offering to sell it to Commodore, but Commodore considered Job's offer too expensive. Tramiel demanded that Peddle, Bill Seiler, and John Feagans create a computer in time for the June 1977 Consumer Electronics Show, and gave them six months to do it. Tramiel's son, Leonard, helped design the PETSCII graphic characters and acted as quality control. The result was the first all-in-one home computer, the PET, the first model of which was the PET 2001. Its 6502 processor controlled the screen, keyboard, cassette tape recorders and any peripherals connected to one of the computer's several expansion ports. The PET 2001 included either 4 KB (2001-4) or 8 KB (2001-8) of 8-bit RAM, and was essentially a single-board computer with discrete logic, driving a small built-in monochrome monitor with 40×25 character graphics. Designed on an appliance computer philosophy similar to the original Macintosh the machine also included a built-in Datassette for data storage located on the front of the case, which left little room for the keyboard. The data transfer rate to cassette tape was 1500 baud, duplicated for safety, giving an effective rate of 750 baud. The computer's main board carried four expansion ports: extra memory, a second cassette tape recorder interface, a parallel port and an IEEE-488 port.

The PET 2001 was announced at the Winter CES in January 1977 and the first 100 units were shipped later that year in October. However, the PET was back-ordered for months and to ease deliveries, early in 1978 Commodore decided to cancel the 4 kB version.

Although the machine was fairly successful, there were frequent complaints about the tiny calculator-like keyboard, often referred to as a "chiclet keyboard" because the keys resembled the gum candy. This was addressed in upgraded "dash N" and "dash B" versions of the 2001, which put the cassette tape recorder outside the case, and included a much larger keyboard with a full stroke motion. Internally a newer motherboard was used, along with an upgrade from static RAM to dynamic RAM and 8, 16, or 32 KB, known as the 2001-N-8, 2001-N-16 or 2001-N-32, respectively.

Sales of the newer machines were strong, and Commodore then introduced the models to Europe. The result was the CBM 3000 series ('CBM' standing for Commodore Business Machines), which included the 3008, 3016 and 3032 models. Like the 2001-N-8, the 3008 was quickly dropped.
(((source:  Wikipedia)))


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1 comment:

Sinbad and I on the Loose said...

I have this memory of UNIVAC being associated with one of the first TV game shows or something along that line. I was just a little guy but the name UNIVAC as I heard it on our little black & white TV stuck with me.

 
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