Sunday, July 19, 2015

Living Computer Museum July 2015

We stopped at Borracho's at Pike Place Market for some Lunch Taco's. Mighty Fine!

It was a long walk but we did not have anything else to do.

I remember these Noisy Teletype machines running non stop in the computer room where I worked as a Computer Operator for the Texas Water Development Board in a building in the Capital Complex in Austin, Texas.

Our Guide for the tour was Savvy. The tour starts at the Digital Electronic Corporation PDP-7 Computer

The DEC PDP-7 was a minicomputer produced by Digital Equipment Corporation as part of the PDP series. Introduced in 1965, it was the first to use their Flip-Chip technology. With a cost of only US$72,000, it was cheap but powerful by the standards of the time. The PDP-7 was the third of Digital's18-bit machines,

IBM 029 KeyPunch Card Machines were in every computer room and in the offices of computer programmers.

The Admiral punches a couple of souvenirs for the Grandkids in Austin

Punch Card Reader. I was sometimes assigned the job of feeding in stacks and stacks of punch cards into the reader.If the machine ate a card I had to fish it out and go punch a new one on  the card punch machine and then refeed the whole stack of cards.

The beginning of the Personal Computer Revolution and I think was mainly a West Coast California Phenomena 

The MITS Altair 8800 is a microcomputer designed in 1974 based on the Intel 8080 CPU. Interest grew quickly after it was featured on the cover of the January 1975 issue (published in December 1974) of Popular Electronics, and was sold by mail order through advertisements there, in Radio-Electronics, and in other hobbyist magazines. 

This is the first time I have seen an Altair. I was already working as a Computer Operator on a Sperry Univac Mainframe computer but never even imagined at the time there would be personal computers int he home.
The picture here is exactly like the Univac 1100/80 I worked with at the time.

The designers hoped to sell a few hundred build-it-yourself kits to hobbyists, and were surprised when they sold thousands in the first month.[1] The Altair also appealed to individuals and businesses that just wanted a computer and purchased the assembled version.[2] The Altair is widely recognized as the spark that ignited the microcomputer revolution.[3] The computer bus designed for the Altair was to become a de facto standard in the form of the S-100 bus, and the first programming language for the machine was Microsoft's founding product, Altair BASIC

My Brother in Law bought one of these Osborns and it was the first experience I had with a personal computer. I watched as he used the keyboard to input commands but I had no understanding of DOS at the time and it all seemed so foreign to me.  

In 1982, the Osborne Computer Company (OCC) announced a successor, the Executive model OCC-2 (seen here to the right), with a larger 7-inch 80x24 screen, twice as much RAM memory, and double-density floppy drives as standard. It was also more expensive at $2,495, a decision many thought to be a major disadvantage.

Young Bill Gates and Paul Allen
The game changes from calculation to communication.

Bill and Paul evolving from Basic to Assembly Language with teh PDP-10

We bought a 16 Kb Atari  400 for our son as a game machine but I learned Basic programming onit and earned an "A" for a 16Kb basic Program I wrote for a Graduate class at University of Texas.

Our first (non game machine) home computer was a TRS 80 from Radio Shack, still no Internet yet.

I had been teaching nearly 10 years before we could afford what I considered our first real computer with a attached Dot Matrix printer for about $2,400 a TI/99-4A I can remember when the internet first started and I got a Modem hooked up to the phone line to access a server at the Texas Education Agency where public school teachers culd get a free account.I was messing around on a bulletin board conversing with an unknown to me person. I asked him where he was and he said China! At that moment I realized the incredible potential of the internet and personal computers.

These IBM machines were now common in schools and offices.

And some looked like this.

The Admirals mother saw a demo of the Commodore 64 and decided we needed one so she gave one as a gift. She also bought some software and a printer for it which turned out to be a really good resource for creating classroom materials for both Lynn and I

The Commodore 64, also known as the C64C-64C= 64,[n 1] or occasionally CBM 64 or VIC-64,[5] is an 8-bit home computer introduced in January 1982 by Commodore International. It is listed in the Guinness World Records as the highest-selling single computer model of all time,[6] with independent estimates placing the number sold between 10 and 17 million units.[7]
Volume production started in early 1982, with machines being released on to the market in August at a price of US$595 (roughly equivalent to $1,500 in 2015).[8][9] Preceded by the Commodore VIC-20 and Commodore PET, the C64 takes its name from its64 kilobytes (65,536 bytes) of RAM, and has technologically superior sound and graphical specifications when compared to some earlier systems such as the Apple II and Atari 800, with multi-color sprites and a more advanced sound processor

I worked my way through the University of Texas as a computer operator first for the TX Department of Water Resources and then later for the TX. Department of Human Resources. I hung countless tapes o this type of tape drive.

At theDepartment of Human Resources there was a huge library of tapes stored in rows of shelving from floor level to as high as you could reach.

You just snap the white ring off and then snap the reel on the tape drive, push a button, the glass door closes and the end of the tape is sucked through to the take up reel by a vacuum.

Must have been about 40 or so of these disk drives, You removed the plastic cover, opened the top of the drive, removed the old carousal and installed the new one with a twist. 

These held a lot of data.

Sometimes you were assigned just to the printers, There were about 10 like this at the Dept. of Human Resources and you job was to just keep feeding boxes of paper, fix any jams and keep them humming 24/7

You had to separate the different printouts, put them into the various programmers boxes and restart any jobs that got damaged due to jams.

Must have been very exciting times in the Silicone Valley.

Could not afford a Mac.Everybody that had one loved it like a child.

The Two Steves: Jobs and Wozniak

Microsoft and Apple were different by the type of talent they attracted.

I taught Compertur Literacy for about 3 years at Porter Middle School in Austin with a very complete Apple IIE Lab.

Since I was the "Technology Teacher" I got to go two the annual Technology in Education 3 day comference for 4 years. This kept me up on the latest technology and software for education.

Netscape was the Browser of Choice until Bill Gates ran right over the world with Explorer.

Gates won the battle but those who lost this skirmish found their way eventually

Dell found a way to get a home computer into every middle class family's home, The Model T of computers.

On the Way Home we spotted the first Pot Shop we have seen since being in Seattle, to bad it was already closed!

Then we got to walk right in to the Tursday Evening Art Walk that happens monthly in Pioneer Square.

Living Computer Museum July 2015

In the early 70's I was working for the Department of Water Resources in the Stephen F Austin building on the 4th floor. The building is just across the street from University of Texas. I worked in the Topographic Mapping Department and was responsible for distributing 15 minute topo maps to any other agency that requested one or more. I was also responsible for making sure we had a ample supply of maps for the entire state of Texas so I would order truck loads at a time from the USGS located in Denver, Colorado. I had a supervisor, Emil Bloomquist, who was rarely in the office. perhaps just a few minutes in the morning and afternoon. the rest of the time I think he carried his coffee cup around the building talking to other very busy supervisors. I had so much work to do I could complete the entire weeks worth on Monday, but I usually saved a little bit so I would have something to do on Tuesday morning. The rest of the week I would sit at my desk and read.Mostly Time or Newsweek magazines and other news related journals or whatever I could find around the building. I had about two years of college but I had dropped out when we moved to San Antonio for my job with Butler Construction company. Anyway, one Tuesday while reading the latest time magazine I suddenly started shaking, I did not know it at the time but I was having a anxiety attack. Working in a horribly boring job where all the young Career minded state employees just walked around talking about retirement came to a head.
The next day I made an appointment with my boss, Chief Engineer Charles Baskin. I told him I wanted to go back to college and wanted to know if there were any positions where I could work the evening shift. A week later I started my new position as a computer Operator on the 4 pm to midnight shift.
There were no computers in any of the offices that I was aware of at the time. The Graphics Department did have a new computer driven plotter and I thought that was very cool. Some fella walked in one day with what looked like a military Walkie Talkie and said it was a Motorola Cell Phone. We all went over to a exterior window where he could get a signal and he made a call on it. It was about two feet long so it would not exactly fit in a pocket.
1974-76 Univac 100/80
So they trained me to work on the Sperry Univac 1100/80. We hung tapes on the tape drives when the monitor told us to, we put disk in the disk drives when the computer called for them and we ran punch cards in the reader when the programmers asked us to. We separated volumes of print out and stacked it on a counter for the programmers to fetch and went through a very specific process of flipping switches to create 1's and 0's to reboot the computer when it went down. There were only two of us working on the night shift so it was a great gig! And I restarted my college education across the street at the University of Texas.
1976-1979 IBM 370-158 and Univac 1100/90
Later I transferred to the State Department of Human Resources because they were paying a little more, $1000 per month a $200 increase! They had two huge mainframes and a huge crew of operators. There were 6 to 9 operators at each of the two machines. Very busy place but now I got to work on a brand new Univac and learn the IBM 370-158. The Idea of a personal computer still could not be imagined by anyone around me, but it was happening already in California.
1981 Atari 400 16Kb
When the game machines came out we bought our son a Atari 400, we both liked playing the games, Centipede was my favorite. After Graduating UT in 1979 I took a $200 a month pay cut and started my teaching career. I actually wrote a 16K Basic program on that Atari that earned me 3 hours of Graduate Credit. It was a elementary math educational program named "Number Builder"
1983 TI/99-4A
I later entered graduate school and bought our first real desk top computer and dot matrix computer. We had to borrow the $2,400 and make payments but having a word processor was well worth the expense. Soon the first stages of the internet came available and we were able to get free access through the Texas education agency. I t was of course all text and no graphics but one late night while I was using our telephone line modem to connect to a discussion bulliten board I asked one of the participants where he was, he replied "China"! I was stunned at first, I pushed my chair back away from the desk and just soaked in the incredible possibilities and potential of the internet.
Commodore 64 1985
The TI had only 48Kb so 64K was way better. The Admiral's mom bought us this one since she had seen a demonstration of some software that she knew would be great for a couple of teachers.
The computer came in very handy was a great tool for the kindergarten teacher and the middle school teacher.
1987 Dell computers at work
Soon after Dell geared up all the AISD schools bought computers for every teacher, and by 1990  we all had a Dell desktop at home as well.

The Living Computer Museum is a great walk into the past. Our generation has lived through this remarkable period in time when the world went from 1960's speed to instant gratification.