Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 2nd Apr 2010 16:01 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems I'm posting this one day late, because I didn't want it to get lost in all the April 1 nonsense. We've been in the computer age for a while now, and while that gives us the privilege of dealing with some truly great products and innovations, it sadly also means that we are starting to lose the pioneers that defined this industry. Yesterday, Ed Roberts shuffled out of life due to pneumonia. Dr. Henry Edward Roberts developed the Altair 8800, considered to be the first personal computer.
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RE: deeply impressed
by vodoomoth on Sat 3rd Apr 2010 00:51 UTC in reply to "deeply impressed"
vodoomoth
Member since:
2010-03-30

Same thing here.

I must confess I did not know about this pioneer or about the computer he created. But I've taught computer science, automata theory, grammars, memory paging, context switching, resource allocation, all the things related to compilers and operating systems. And at that time, when telling students about "what happened before", I was just appalled when thinking about how difficult (and I stress the adjective) it must have been, back in those days I couldn't know, long before Java and other fancy modern technologies came to existence...


The user toggled the switches to positions corresponding to an 8080 microprocessor instruction or opcode in binary, then used an 'enter' switch to load the code into the machine's memory, and then repeated this step until all the opcodes of a presumably complete and correct program were in place

I don't even *want* to imagine what a bad evening could look like then.

We didn't get to where we are now by magic like Athena getting all grown-up and armed out of Zeus' head. There is some history and credit is due to those who made that history. It makes me incredibly mad (sad too) when I read that someone from the Free Software Foundation (or another FLOSS organization) disparaged Donald Knuth... come on, some icons are just untouchable... where would technology be without volume 3 of TAOCP, not to mention the other volumes? without TeX and Metafont? Same goes with "limitless ego" Linus Torvalds doing the same with CVS and SVN...
To me, that's close to blasphemy, no matter who you are, no matter how noble what you stand for is or how important your contribution was.

Many thanks to Ed Roberts.
Thanks Thom for this article, it brought me tears of gratitude and many thoughts about the pioneers (Babbage, Turing, Hamming, Huffman, Shannon, Ritchie & Kernighan come to my mind) we owe so much to.

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