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Re: "From Colossus to Raspberry Pi in seven decades"

Posted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 10:05 am
by mccp
Just seen thisĀ http://www.guardian.co.uk/tech.....on-neumann.

The Raspberry Pi mention is a little spurious but the article is interesting and the book that is being reviewed sounds worthwhile too.

Re: "From Colossus to Raspberry Pi in seven decades"

Posted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 10:12 am
by grumpyoldgit
Highly partisan article. Where was the BBC micro? The Sinclair ZX80? The Amstrad 1512? All computers that were pivotal in introducing computing to the masses.

Re: "From Colossus to Raspberry Pi in seven decades"

Posted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 10:43 am
by MDC
They also forgot John Atanasoff and when is Tommy Flowers going to get some recognition.

I don't thinkĀ one person can claim to have invented the computer, but they can say they made contributions to the making of the computer

Re: "From Colossus to Raspberry Pi in seven decades"

Posted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 11:16 am
by rurwin
And where is the Manchester "Baby" SSEM? The IAS used Kilburn-Williams tubes for memory, and the SSEM was the testbed that proved that technology. Hence the IAS could not have been built before the SSEM.

In the 1946-1949 time-frame, there were lots of people working on the stored-program paradigm, all cross-fertilising each other. Which machine was actually first became more luck than anything else, but the big problem they had to solve was memory. A large memory was essential, since a small memory could hold intermediate data, but not the program. Mercury delay lines and the Kilburn-Williams tubes were the technologies that made the stored-program computer possible. After 1948 when those became available, the stored-program machines followed thick and fast: EDSAC in 1949, LEO in 1951 and so on.

By the time the IAS was operational, not only had the SSEM been working for four years, it had been replaced by the Manchester Mark I and that had been upgraded to the Ferranti Mark I; the world's first commercial computer. The first of those was delivered to the university the year before the IAS became operational.

Von Neumann's position as the inventor of the Von-Neumann model is safe, but whether it is his baby or not, and whether it is the purest expression of his ideas or not, the IAS seems to hold no great place in the history of computing. Rather that place seems to be taken by EDVAC by way of Von Neumann's report on its design in 1945, a year before work began on the IAS. EDVAC itself did not run before 1951, still a year ahead of the IAS.

The time-line doesn't mention the Commodore Pet either, and that was also a seminal moment in computing. The Altair made no impact on industry, whereas the Pet did; it was the first office micro-computer.

Re: "From Colossus to Raspberry Pi in seven decades"

Posted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 12:34 pm
by TheEponymousBob
I was under the impression that the human variety was "computor", with the -er ending assigned to the electronic variety to differentiate.

Re: "From Colossus to Raspberry Pi in seven decades"

Posted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 6:34 pm
by mdewey
What is interesting is that although the title says 'computing' it is nearly all about hardware advances not software.

Re: "From Colossus to Raspberry Pi in seven decades"

Posted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 8:05 am
by mccp
mdewey said:


What is interesting is that although the title says 'computing' it is nearly all about hardware advances not software.


Although, to be fair, it's about hardware advances that meant it was possible to write software, store it and run the same software again easily.