Tag Archives: computing history

Heathkit and EICO

I spent ninth grade with my parents in Europe while my father was on sabbatical. Fascinated by electrical things but away from my workshop, all I could do was study, and so I taught myself about electronics. I describe this in another post. By … Continue reading

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Building DIR/ECT II

In 1975, when I was 37, I got my first and only job at Bell Labs which was not research. Bell Labs had written, a long time before, an elaborate software system, named DIR/ECT, used in printing white pages phone … Continue reading

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My Second Computer

In 1971 the first personal computer, the Kenbak-1, became available. Only 40 were sold. The real personal computer revolution started, I think, with the availability of the Altair computer kit in 1975 and the Apple 1 in 1976. Also, in … Continue reading

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Artificial Intelligence

After college I went to M.I.T. for my graduate work. I started at M.I.T. in 1959. I had to spend the first year and a half completing coursework for the Ph.D. qualifying exams and taking the exams. With that behind … Continue reading

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Early Turing-complete Computers

Before and during World War II all computers were special purpose machines, each designed to solve a particular war related problem. After the war computers continued to be invented at a rapid pace, but the focus shifted to general purpose … Continue reading

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Why were early computers so late?

When I was born, in 1938, there were no computers. The word “computer” meant a person who used a calculator. I don’t know why computers did not exist then. The seeds had been planted well before. The first general-purpose computer … Continue reading

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Burroughs E101 – a weird computer

As a Sophomore at Harvard, in 1956-7, I audited an introductory course on computers. That is where I wrote my first program, for the Univac 1. In this course we studied a number of machines, from punched card tabulating machines … Continue reading

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My Home Built Computer

The first commercial microcomputer was the Intel 4004, introduced in 1971. It cost $60, which is $350 in today’s money. These devices fascinated me, but $350 was too much to spend on something of no practical value. Then in 1976 … Continue reading

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More Teaching Computing

In my last post I talked about teaching Jim how to program using my favorite language, Ruby. Rather than focusing on the syntax and semantics of the Ruby language we are focusing on how to design and build software. There … Continue reading

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Machines I Have Known

The first machine I ever programmed was a UNIVAC 1, in 1957, as an undergraduate at Harvard. Although I did not know it at the time, Sperry-Rand Corporation had  given this machine to Harvard the previous year. Apparently not even … Continue reading

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