Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 13th Feb 2006 21:42 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems "In February 1946, J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly were about to unveil, for the first time, an electronic computer to the world. Their ENIAC, or Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer, could churn 5000 addition problems in one second, far faster than any device yet invented. The scientists knew that they had created something that would change history, but they weren't sure how to convey their breakthrough to the public. So they painted numbers on some light bulbs and screwed the resulting 'translucent spheres' into ENIAC's panels. Dynamic, flashy lights would thereafter be associated with the computer in the public mind." Yes boys and girls, 60 years ago the groundwork was laid for that grey thing hooked up to that thing you're staring at right now.
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what 60 years bring you
by Moulinneuf on Mon 13th Feb 2006 22:03 UTC
Moulinneuf
Member since:
2005-07-06

truely remarkable that in 60 years difference its now possible for everyone to have portable computer in there house that are million of time superior to this first machine.

Reply Score: 4

Family
by zizban on Mon 13th Feb 2006 22:10 UTC
zizban
Member since:
2005-07-06

My grandfather was on one of the teams charged with solving the mathematics of the machine; the math involved was simply astounding to make that beast. When my grandfather died, we found of his work in old notebooks which we donated to the Smitjsonian. It was quite a feat; it seems so primitive now but then they had some might hurdles to get over to get not only get the beast to work but to be sure it didn't take the electricity of an entire city to power.

Reply Score: 2

v Insensitive clod
by CaptainPinko on Mon 13th Feb 2006 22:41 UTC
RE: Insensitive clod
by AdrianRyan on Mon 13th Feb 2006 22:51 UTC in reply to "Insensitive clod"
AdrianRyan Member since:
2005-07-02

Oh God, please no Slashdot memes. We all know them, and we all know where to find them, so please don't make OS News that place. Mod me off-topic, but there is no other place to say this.

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: Insensitive clod
by Tyr. on Tue 14th Feb 2006 01:52 UTC in reply to "RE: Insensitive clod"
Tyr. Member since:
2005-07-06

I don't think that's reason enough to mod it down to -4 though. Leave the guy at "1" for people who do enjoy the joke for pete's sake. I spend half my mod points modding people back up these days, that can't be right.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Insensitive clod
by AdrianRyan on Tue 14th Feb 2006 01:59 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Insensitive clod"
AdrianRyan Member since:
2005-07-02

Actually, I agree. I didn't mean for him to get modded out of existence, I was just giving my opinion as much as he was.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Insensitive clod
by Celerate on Tue 14th Feb 2006 05:17 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Insensitive clod"
Celerate Member since:
2005-06-29

I'm not sure whether making that comment or not would have changed anything, you're not the only one who doesn't want to see this site turn into slashdot.

I don't know whether I would have moderated the comment down or not, but I certainly would have been tempted to ask the author not to post /. jokes here.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Insensitive clod
by Tom K on Tue 14th Feb 2006 03:42 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Insensitive clod"
Tom K Member since:
2005-07-06

Actually, I think the ratings of the original post and then the complaint that follows are a testament to what the OSNews crowd thinks of the Slashdot crowd.

Slashdot: A festering cesspool of 13-year-old Linux/F/OSS fanboys having a great big circle-jerk.

Reply Score: 0

RE[4]: Insensitive clod
by sbergman27 on Tue 14th Feb 2006 04:28 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Insensitive clod"
sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

OSNews: A festering pool of middle-aged Windows/Mac/Linux/ReactOS/Amiga/OS2/BeOS fanboys doing what we can, despite our more limited public exposure, to ameliorate the damage to our collective image that Slashdot has done, and continues to do.

Everyone in agreement, please raise your cane!

That's a little joke, BTW. ;-)

Reply Score: 1

RE[5]: Insensitive clod
by AdrianRyan on Tue 14th Feb 2006 04:53 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Insensitive clod"
AdrianRyan Member since:
2005-07-02

A festering pool of middle-aged...

A huge part of me really wishes that I hadn't flamed that guy, if only because right now nothing would be more appropriate than saying "I'm 19 you ...." But I'll constrain myself.

Personally, I check both Slashdot and OS News multiple times a day, and get different types of news and comments from each place. More discussion goes on on Slashdot, and by extension, when one filters the comments right, there is more intellegnet discussion. OS News however has many stories that don't show up on the Dot, and I'm usually more interested in the articles that get posted here. I really see no reason to have to wage a holy war against Slashdot. I just don't like seeing conversation in OS News degrade into silly memes or crappy, one-lined responses (a la Digg; oohh, don't get me started on Digg). There are a lot of great articles posted here (such as this one, on which I wish there were more discussion), and keeping discussions fairly on-topic and interesting can only help OS News' "mission."

OK, enough preaching. Enough being off-topic by telling others to get on-topic ;-). I need to do my CS homework (because yes, I'm a young 'un).

Reply Score: 1

RE[6]: Insensitive clod
by sbergman27 on Tue 14th Feb 2006 05:02 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Insensitive clod"
sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

> OK, enough preaching. Enough being off-topic by telling others to get on-topic ;-). I need to do my CS homework (because yes, I'm a young 'un).

Hey, I'm 42 you insensitive clod!

And BTW, I really am 42. That's not just a Douglas Adams thing. ;-)

I do understand your original post, though. Slashdot has far too many obnoxious memes.

And when you get to be my age, sonny, you'll understand very well indeed...

Edited 2006-02-14 05:04

Reply Score: 1

According to Wikipedia
by ma_d on Tue 14th Feb 2006 00:19 UTC
ma_d
Member since:
2005-06-29

The article is misleading:
"It didn't really employ conditional branching--the if/then statements that form the cornerstone of modern programming."
According to wikipedia:
"was long thought to have been the first Turing-complete electronic computer"

I think the article means its programs didn't use a ITE structure, but that's in no way surprising! However, if it was Turing Complete it was fully capable of employing such a language (in theory, given enough memory).

When I read no conditional branching I assumed it was a linear batch processor of sorts. But if it's Turing complete it's a bit more than that.

Just me nitpicking I suppose.

Edited 2006-02-14 00:20

Reply Score: 1

Happy Birthday Computers!
by AdrianRyan on Tue 14th Feb 2006 02:09 UTC
AdrianRyan
Member since:
2005-07-02

Personally, I found this a most intersting article. I've never really known the history of the computer, especially all the little tidbits the article gave, such as ENIAC's computing in decimal notation (I wonder how it even did that). The history of computer science is a wonderful subject, and it would be neat if OS News would do articles on the impact of historical occurences more often. Of course, this would mean more articles getting written about this in the press, which probably don't sell as well as the articles about the latest and greatest Intel Core Duo. (Speaking of which, did anyone else notice that CNet listed the Core Duo's weight as 90.3 sq mm and its size as negligible?)

And, I think you answered your own question ma_d. If-then statements "weren't really implemented" doesn't say that they weren't possible. And without them, programming wouldn't exactly be easy.

Reply Score: 1

weird
by broken_symlink on Tue 14th Feb 2006 02:18 UTC
broken_symlink
Member since:
2005-07-06

weird i just found a box of old books from my mom's college days and she has a book called from eniac to univac. maybe i should give it a read.

Reply Score: 1

RE: weird
by Celerate on Tue 14th Feb 2006 05:24 UTC in reply to "weird"
Celerate Member since:
2005-06-29

I often wish I had some of those old books, they don't teach you the same thing about computers these days that they used to. Computer science in schools these days is Windows, VisualBasic, Java, Databases and that's pretty much it. It's sad that you have to dig around pretty hard to get real training in traditional CS these days.

When I finish school I want to know how the circuits work and I want to be able to write software that runs directly on the hardware, I don't want to be dependent on some third party OS in the middle.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: weird
by transputer_guy on Tue 14th Feb 2006 09:07 UTC in reply to "RE: weird"
transputer_guy Member since:
2005-07-08

I have text books dating back to early 60s since I was at Uni in the late 70s but every decade the old seems to get turned over and replaced with newer perhaps fresher or simplified texts that have to cover ever more technologies at a shallower level.

Back in the 60s I really think it was possible to be aware of the entire CS field and strong in a good part of it hence Knuths classic tomes. Every generation one's possible field of vision seems to shrink another order which is a shame really.

Also the older books would be harder to understand in todays technology vernacular. Books or texts from the 50s, 60s are much harder to understand from a modern perspecive because alot of the terminolgy was brand new then and still being worked out. Perhaps if you want to understand something from year x, get a book printed 10yrs later, but 20yrs later and its staring to get removed.

If you want to get your teeth on some real HW perhaps you should look at embedded design, ARM, MIPs etc and assembler and on the HW side perhaps look at FPGAs and languages like Verilog or VHDL to build soft hardware.

transputer guy

Reply Score: 2

Historical preservation
by elsewhere on Tue 14th Feb 2006 02:59 UTC
elsewhere
Member since:
2005-07-13

It's good the poor thing was retired long ago.

If it was still around, no doubt a gang of reckless miscreant comp-sci students on a bender would have broken in by now and installed linux onto it with punch cards, burning out thousands of innocent vaccuum tubes in the process.

iPods and toasters are one thing, but that just wouldn't seem dignified.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Historical preservation
by sbergman27 on Tue 14th Feb 2006 03:10 UTC in reply to "Historical preservation"
sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

> If it was still around, no doubt a gang of reckless miscreant comp-sci students on a bender would have broken in by now and installed linux onto it with punch cards, burning out thousands of innocent vaccuum tubes in the process.

Only to find that NetBSD had beat us to it. ;-)

Reply Score: 1

wow
by poundsmack on Tue 14th Feb 2006 04:26 UTC
poundsmack
Member since:
2005-07-13

to be uite honest i am a little disapointed with the progressthe computer undustryhas made in 60 years. just seems to me we could be a lot further ahead than we are, or mabey i am jsut wrong

Reply Score: 1

Shiny lights
by MORB on Tue 14th Feb 2006 09:27 UTC
MORB
Member since:
2005-07-06

they weren't sure how to convey their breakthrough to the public. So they painted numbers on some light bulbs and screwed the resulting 'translucent spheres' into ENIAC's panels.
Nice to see that the recent trend to make user interfaces flashy and colorful is not anything new. Take that, Vista.

Dynamic, flashy lights would thereafter be associated with the computer in the public mind.
The dynamic, flashy lights are still there. Only much, much smaller and there's a whole lot more of them.

Reply Score: 1

Colossus?
by Kroc on Tue 14th Feb 2006 10:33 UTC
Kroc
Member since:
2005-11-10

So, no mention of Colossus? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colossus_computer It could read data off of paper tape at 30 miles an hour, was fully programmable and help crack the German Enigma cypher during World War II; as well as being much older than ENIAC, and situated at Bletchley Park with some of the greatest minds there have ever been (oh, and Yahoo too since they think they're e-mail app is world changing too)

Reply Score: 1

Not Eniac but Z3 was first
by cropr on Tue 14th Feb 2006 12:04 UTC
cropr
Member since:
2006-02-14

Not the Eniac but the Z3, made by Konrad Zuse in 1941, was the first digital programmable computer: see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zuse . Because the machine was developed under the Nazi regime, little is known about it in the english speaking hemisphere. So we are actually celebrating the 65th anniversary.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Not Eniac but Z3 was first
by vasko_dinkov on Tue 14th Feb 2006 13:33 UTC in reply to "Not Eniac but Z3 was first"
vasko_dinkov Member since:
2005-09-13

No Z3 but ABC (Atanasoff Berry Computer) was first!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Atanasoff

John Atanasoff is a Bulgarian, btw!

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Not Eniac but Z3 was first
by malkia on Tue 14th Feb 2006 19:42 UTC in reply to "RE: Not Eniac but Z3 was first"
malkia Member since:
2005-07-17

According to wikipedia, ABC was the first electronic computing device, but it was not Turing Complete, so some are saying it should not be described as the first computer.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atanasoff_Berry_Computer

btw, I'm also bulgarian.

Reply Score: 1

Colossus and Z3
by monkeyhead on Tue 14th Feb 2006 12:41 UTC
monkeyhead
Member since:
2005-07-11

RTFA - It makes no claim that Z3 and Colossus weren't before it. Only that ENIAC is the computer that introduced the American public to the concept of the computer.

Reply Score: 1