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Michael Dunn
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Re: Rememberance of Things Past
Michael Dunn   7/5/2013 12:47:48 PM
We had to enter the first-level boot-up sequence using front panel switches.

Couldn't afford a paper tape reader, eh...? Sad.

Max The Magnificent
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Re: I'll go with 1889
Max The Magnificent   7/5/2013 12:38:30 PM
@betajet:Lots of testimonals in the back, including one from an iceman who had worked 12-15 hours a day until he took the ICS Interior Wiring Course and was able to earn US$2.50 a day working just 8 hours.

There is so much to be learned from these old books -- often they provide a unique window into the past.

I also have a load of full-sized hardback books from the 40s, 50s, and 60s describing how to build logic circuits out of vacuum tubes, relays, and even magnetic logic.

FYI, the magnetic logic used the same magnetic cores you find in the old magnetic core stores, but using them to implement logic functions like AND and OR ... and, of corse, since they were cores, each logic gate also acts as a non-volatile memory element...

Max The Magnificent
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Re: The computer that no more exists
Max The Magnificent   7/5/2013 12:33:42 PM
## The veterans in our department refuse to dump those obsolete manuals!

God bless them!!!

It's easy to throw stuff out now, and then realize whet we've lost in years to come...

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Rememberance of Things Past
Max The Magnificent   7/5/2013 12:32:12 PM
## You clearly missed out on the PDP-11 era, and you have my condolences.

My first job out of university in 1980 was working on a team designing CPUs for mainframe computers.

Two managest left to form their own startup company and invited me to join them, so my next job circa 1981 was in a small six-person company using a PDP 11/21.

The hard disk drive cabinet was the size of a washing machine. The drive itself comprised a numbrer of platters that (in a glass case looking like a wedding cake wjen removed from the system) that offered only 1MB of storage. We all shared one folder -- files used the 8.3 naming standard (no spaces or special characters). We used the first character of the file name to indicate who owned which files ('M' for "Max"

We had to enter the first-level boot-up sequence using front panel switches.

Ah, the good old days :-)


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I'll go with 1889
betajet   7/4/2013 2:46:31 PM
Hey Max,

Google found me a picture of the 1889 edition that looks the same, though yours is in better condition.  So you have 20 years advantage over my 1908 "Electrical Engineer's Pocketbook" (International Corresponence Schools, Scranton, PA) which belonged to my grandfather.  However, I bet my book is a lot more useful.  For example, it has tables of copper wire resistance (B&S Gauge 0000 is 18,290 feet per Ohm at 50C and weighs 3381.4 pounds per mile), detailed diagrams of electrical wiring (knob and tube, of course), lots of diagrams of dynamo-electric machines (motors and generators) and alternators, and a chapter on "car wiring" -- for streetcars.  Way too early for vacuum tubes, but plenty on batteries and electric lamps.  (At the time, mercury-vapor tubes had to be tilted by pulling on a chain to establish initial conduction, and then released to form the arc.)  There's even a section of first aid, showing how to do artificial respiration by moving the victim's arms.

Lots of testimonals in the back, including one from an iceman who had worked 12-15 hours a day until he took the ICS Interior Wiring Course and was able to earn US$2.50 a day working just 8 hours.

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Rememberance of Things Past
betajet   7/4/2013 2:18:54 PM

You clearly missed out on the PDP-11 era, and you have my condolences.  The PDP-11 was IMO the finest of the mini-computers, and I was sad when memory got so cheap that the PDP-11's 16-bit addressing range (w/o segmentation) made it obsolete.  PDP-11 was an elegant, very regular architecture that was so simple that PDP-11 ASM programming was often easier than with the high-level languages of the time (this was before Pascal and C).  The machine language had such a simple octal coding that many ASM programmers could instantly decode instructions from an octal dump.

And I/O!  PDP-11 had very simple memory-mapped I/O.  How simple?  If you have an extra 10 minutes, go to the IT library, take out the "PDP-11 Peripherals Handbook" and read the chapter called "Programming".  It will show you how to do both busy-wait and interrupt-driven programming, in JUST 8 PAGES.  Compare that to what it takes to write a device driver for your favorite OS.

Looking at PDP-11 books reminds people like me of the wonderful time between the aloofness of mainframes locked away in glass rooms and the insane overcomplexity of modern desktop computers.  The PDP-11 was simple enough that an individual could quickly master it without being bogged down in arbitrary complexity.  It was a great time of freedom -- a machine you could fully control before being handcuffed by DRMs and software patents.

You can still get a PDP-11 style joy of simplicity with bare-metal programming on some embedded processors.

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The computer that no more exists
prabhakar_deosthali   7/4/2013 8:41:02 AM
The Digital Equipment Corporation , the well known name in computers for decades is history now. So much so that today's generation will hardly have heard this name.


But my IT department's library has a complete rack assigned for the books , manuals of DEC PDP 11 series computer and the associated RSX-11 operating system. It competes for space among the latest additions on HTML, XNL, JAVA and such new additions.

The veterans in our department refuse to dump those obsolete manuals !

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A family heirloom
kfield   7/3/2013 5:03:27 PM
I've always loved this desk plaque that was originally my father-in-laws, who started out in engineering in the 1950s. It is a treasured item that will be passed down through generations of "pack rats" in the family!

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