Topic: Computing/Early computers
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Emacs or EMACS (Editor MACroS) is a family of text editors that are characterized by their extensibility. The manual for the most widely used variant, GNU Emacs, describes it as "the extensible, customizable, self-documenting, real-time display editor". Development of the first Emacs began in the mid-1970s, and work on its direct descendant, GNU Emacs, continues actively as of 2020.
Emacs has over 10,000 built-in commands and its user interface allows the user to combine these commands into macros to automate work. Implementations of Emacs typically feature a dialect of the Lisp programming language that provides a deep extension capability, allowing users and developers to write new commands and applications for the editor. Extensions have been written to manage email, files, outlines, and RSS feeds, as well as clones of ELIZA, Pong, Conway's Life, Snake and Tetris.
The original EMACS was written in 1976 by Carl Mikkelsen, David A. Moon and Guy L. Steele Jr. as a set of Editor MACroS for the TECO editor. It was inspired by the ideas of the TECO-macro editors TECMAC and TMACS.
The most popular, and most ported, version of Emacs is GNU Emacs, which was created by Richard Stallman for the GNU Project. XEmacs is a variant that branched from GNU Emacs in 1991. GNU Emacs and XEmacs use similar Lisp dialects and are for the most part compatible with each other.
Emacs is, along with vi, one of the two main contenders in the traditional editor wars of Unix culture. Emacs is among the oldest free and open source projects still under development.
- "Emacs Pinky" | 2011-06-02 | 33 Upvotes 28 Comments
Harvard Mark I
The IBM Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator (ASCC), called Mark I by Harvard University’s staff, was a general purpose electromechanical computer that was used in the war effort during the last part of World War II.
One of the first programs to run on the Mark I was initiated on 29 March 1944 by John von Neumann. At that time, von Neumann was working on the Manhattan Project, and needed to determine whether implosion was a viable choice to detonate the atomic bomb that would be used a year later. The Mark I also computed and printed mathematical tables, which had been the initial goal of British inventor Charles Babbage for his "analytical engine".
The Mark I was disassembled in 1959, but portions of it are displayed in the Science Center as part of the Harvard Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments. Other sections of the original machine were transferred to IBM and the Smithsonian Institution.
- "Harvard Mark I" | 2019-08-07 | 44 Upvotes 23 Comments
IBM 7030 Stretch
The IBM 7030, also known as Stretch, was IBM's first transistorized supercomputer. It was the fastest computer in the world from 1961 until the first CDC 6600 became operational in 1964.
Originally designed to meet a requirement formulated by Edward Teller at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the first example was delivered to Los Alamos National Laboratory in 1961, and a second customized version, the IBM 7950 Harvest, to the National Security Agency in 1962. The Stretch at the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment at Aldermaston, England was heavily used by researchers there and at AERE Harwell, but only after the development of the S2 Fortran Compiler which was the first to add dynamic arrays, and which was later ported to the Ferranti Atlas of Atlas Computer Laboratory at Chilton.
Since the 7030 was much slower than expected and failed to meet its aggressive performance estimates, IBM was forced to drop its price from $13.5 million to only $7.78 million and withdrew the 7030 from sales to customers beyond those having already negotiated contracts. PC World magazine named Stretch one of the biggest project management failures in IT history.
Within IBM, being eclipsed by the smaller Control Data Corporation seemed hard to accept. The project lead, Stephen W. Dunwell, was initially blackballed for his role in the "failure", but as the success of the IBM System/360 became obvious, he was given an official apology and, in 1966 was made an IBM Fellow.
In spite of Stretch's failure to meet its own performance goals, it served as the basis for many of the design features of the successful IBM System/360, which shipped in 1964.
- "IBM 7030 Stretch" | 2019-09-09 | 59 Upvotes 24 Comments
IBM 7950 Harvest
The IBM 7950, also known as Harvest, was a one-of-a-kind adjunct to the Stretch computer which was installed at the United States National Security Agency (NSA). Built by IBM, it was delivered in 1962 and operated until 1976, when it was decommissioned. Harvest was designed to be used for cryptanalysis.
- "IBM 7950 Harvest" | 2018-04-15 | 81 Upvotes 6 Comments
IBM System/360 Model 67
The IBM System/360 Model 67 (S/360-67) was an important IBM mainframe model in the late 1960s. Unlike the rest of the S/360 series, it included features to facilitate time-sharing applications, notably a Dynamic Address Translation unit, the "DAT box", to support virtual memory, 32-bit addressing and the 2846 Channel Controller to allow sharing channels between processors. The S/360-67 was otherwise compatible with the rest of the S/360 series.
- "IBM System/360 Model 67" | 2015-08-21 | 73 Upvotes 36 Comments
The Jargon File is a glossary and usage dictionary of slang used by computer programmers. The original Jargon File was a collection of terms from technical cultures such as the MIT AI Lab, the Stanford AI Lab (SAIL) and others of the old ARPANET AI/LISP/PDP-10 communities, including Bolt, Beranek and Newman, Carnegie Mellon University, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute. It was published in paperback form in 1983 as The Hacker's Dictionary (edited by Guy Steele), revised in 1991 as The New Hacker's Dictionary (ed. Eric S. Raymond; third edition published 1996).
The concept of the file began with the Tech Model Railroad Club (TMRC) that came out of early PDP-1 and TX-0 hackers in the 1950s, where the term hacker emerged and the ethic, philosophies and some of the nomenclature emerged.
- "Hacker Koan" | 2014-03-23 | 15 Upvotes 15 Comments
- "Hacker Koan" | 2010-07-31 | 50 Upvotes 7 Comments
Jonathan Bruce Postel (; August 6, 1943 – October 16, 1998) was an American computer scientist who made many significant contributions to the development of the Internet, particularly with respect to standards. He is known principally for being the Editor of the Request for Comment (RFC) document series, for Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP), and for administering the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) until his death. In his lifetime he was known as the "god of the Internet" for his comprehensive influence on the medium.
The Internet Society's Postel Award is named in his honor, as is the Postel Center at Information Sciences Institute, University of Southern California. His obituary was written by Vint Cerf and published as RFC 2468 in remembrance of Postel and his work. In 2012, Postel was inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame by the Internet Society. The Channel Islands' Domain Registry building was named after him in early 2016.
- "Jon Postel" | 2018-07-06 | 10 Upvotes 1 Comments
Lehmer sieves are mechanical devices that implement sieves in number theory. Lehmer sieves are named for Derrick Norman Lehmer and his son Derrick Henry Lehmer. The father was a professor of mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley at the time, and his son followed in his footsteps as a number theorist and professor at Berkeley.
A sieve in general is intended to find the numbers which are remainders when a set of numbers are divided by a second set. Generally, they are used in finding solutions of Diophantine equations or to factor numbers. A Lehmer sieve will signal that such solutions are found in a variety of ways depending on the particular construction.
- "Lehmer sieve" | 2014-01-04 | 52 Upvotes 4 Comments
MONIAC – Monetary National Income Analogue Computer
The MONIAC (Monetary National Income Analogue Computer) also known as the Phillips Hydraulic Computer and the Financephalograph, was created in 1949 by the New Zealand economist Bill Phillips (William Phillips) to model the national economic processes of the United Kingdom, while Phillips was a student at the London School of Economics (LSE). The MONIAC was an analogue computer which used fluidic logic to model the workings of an economy. The MONIAC name may have been suggested by an association of money and ENIAC, an early electronic digital computer.
- "MONIAC – Monetary National Income Analogue Computer" | 2019-01-07 | 38 Upvotes 6 Comments
Water Based Analog Computer
The Water Integrator (Russian: Гидравлический интегратор) was an early analog computer built in the Soviet Union in 1936 by Vladimir Sergeevich Lukyanov. It functioned by careful manipulation of water through a room full of interconnected pipes and pumps. The water level in various chambers (with precision to fractions of a millimeter) represented stored numbers, and the rate of flow between them represented mathematical operations. This machine was capable of solving inhomogeneous differential equations.
The first versions of Lukyanov's integrators were rather experimental, made of tin and glass tubes, and each integrator could be used to solve only one problem. In the 1930s it was the only computer in the Soviet Union for solving partial differential equations.
In 1941, Lukyanov created a hydraulic integrator of modular design, which made it possible to assemble a machine for solving various problems. Two-dimensional and three-dimensional hydraulic integrators were designed.
In 1949–1955, an integrator in the form of standard unified units was developed at the NIISCHETMASH Institute. In 1955, the Ryazan plant of calculating and analytical machines began the serial production of integrators with the factory brand name “IGL” (russian: Интегратор Гидравлический Лукьянова - integrator of the Lukyanov hydraulic system). Integrators were widely distributed, delivered to Czechoslovakia, Poland, Bulgaria and China.
A water integrator was used in the design of the Karakum Canal in the 1940s, and the construction of the Baikal–Amur Mainline in the 1970s. Water analog computers were used in the Soviet Union until the 1980s for large-scale modelling. They were used in geology, mine construction, metallurgy, rocket production and other fields.
Currently, two hydraulic integrators are kept in the Polytechnic Museum in Moscow.
- "Water Based Analog Computer" | 2020-11-23 | 22 Upvotes 1 Comments