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Researcher Resurrects the First Computer

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the how-do-i-love-thee-let-me-randomly-select-the-ways dept.

Programming 149

aleph60 writes "A German researcher is about to resurrect the first fully electronic general-purpose stored-program computer, the Manchester Mark 1 (1948). The functional replica will run the source code of an original program from 1952 by Christopher Strachey, whose sole purpose was generating love letters; it is historically interesting as one of the first examples of a text-generating program. The installation will be shown at an art exhibition in Germany at the end of April." Here is researcher David Link's Manchester Mark I emulator home, which generates a new love poem on each page load. When the Mark I had been used to search for new Mersenne primes in 1949, a press account coined the phrase "electronic brain" to characterize it.

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Random Numbers on the Manchester Mark 1? (4, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#27531759)

M. U. C.

Now that's some vintage computer porn!

But seriously, I'm interested in how the Manchester Mark 1 implemented its random number instruction (to select the phrases for the love poems). Was it von Neumann's [] middle square method [] from 1946? Does anyone know?

I remember lengthy discussion in my undergrad days of how a completely logical computer could come up with a truly random number and talking about the theory that every software solution is pseudorandom. I'm just wondering what the first computer had implemented.

Re:Random Numbers on the Manchester Mark 1? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27532127)

Seems that the first computer didn't understand the subtle differences between a colon and a semi-colon.

Though to be perfectly fair, a comma would have sufficed.


Philip K Dickhead (906971) | more than 5 years ago | (#27532351)

"James Elwood, master programmer, in charge of Mark 502-741, commonly known as 'Agnes,' the world's most advanced electronic computer. Machines are made by men for man's benefit and progress, but when man ceases to control the products of his ingenuity and imagination he not only risks losing the benefit, but he takes a long and unpredictable step...
into--the Twilight Zone. [] " []

"Advice to all future male scientists: be sure you understand the opposite sex, especially if you intend being a computer expert. Otherwise, you may find yourself, like poor Elwood, defeated by a jealous machine, a most dangerous sort of female, whose victims are forever banished--to...
the Twilight Zone."

EPICAC by Kurt Vonnegut (1)

Philip K Dickhead (906971) | more than 5 years ago | (#27532445)

in Welcome to the Monkey House.

The deathless verse, of this cybernetic Cyrano?

"Love is a hawk with velvet claws / Love is a rock with heart and veins / Love is a lion with satin jaws / Love is a storm with silken reins"

The unnamed first-person narrator begins by discussing EPICAC's origins and why he wants to tell EPICAC's story. The narrator says that EPICAC is his best friend, even though it is a machine. As far as the narrator is concerned, the reason EPICAC no longer exists is because it became more human than its designers originally intended. The narrator works on EPICAC during the night shift with fellow mathematician Pat Kilgallen, with whom the narrator falls in love. He decides to ask Pat to marry him, but because he is so stoic during the proposal, Pat declines. In order to show that he can in fact be "sweet" and "poetic" as Pat has requested, the narrator tries and fails at poetry writing.

The narrator asks EPICAC's opinion on how he should proceed with Pat. EPICAC initially does not understand the terms the narrator uses, such as "girl" and "love" and "poetry." Once the narrator provides EPICAC with proper dictionary definitions, EPICAC generates a poem for Pat. The narrator takes this poem and passes it off as his own. Pat is so delighted that she and the narrator kiss for the first time. The next night, the narrator asks EPICAC to write a poem about their kiss, and EPICAC delivers another poem for the narrator to claim as his own. When Pat reads this poem she is so overwhelmed that she can do little else but cry. The following night the narrator asks EPICAC to devise a marriage proposal poem for Pat. However, instead of simply creating poetry as with previous requests, EPICAC surprises the narrator by saying that it would like to marry Pat.

The narrator realizes that EPICAC has fallen in love with Pat and tries to explain to EPICAC that Pat cannot love a computer. EPICAC resigns itself to the fact that it cannot be with Pat, and the narrator realizes now that he cannot ask EPICAC for any more poems. He finds Pat and asks her to marry him again, citing his previous poems as expressions of his feelings. Pat accepts his marriage proposal, but adds the stipulation that for every anniversary, the narrator must write her another poem. The narrator agrees because he will have a full year to devise another way to create poetry.

The next day the narrator receives an urgent call from his supervisor. He rushes to the room where EPICAC is housed to discover Dr. Von Kleigstadt and a huge group of military men crowded around the remains of EPICAC. During the night, EPICAC destroyed itself, effectively committing suicide because it could not be with the woman it loved. It did, however, leave the narrator and Pat a marriage present -- five hundred original love poems. The narrator now has enough anniversary poems to keep his vow to Pat for centuries to come, and is relieved by this gesture from his friend. []

The whole story is here: []

It seems that every man's thought, when first contemplating the vast possibilities of electronic calculation, turn to the notion: "How can I use this thing to get laid?"

Electric Dreams (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 5 years ago | (#27533323)

Miles: "You played it for her, you can play it for me."
Computer: What?
Miles: Play it, Sam.
Computer: What key?
Miles: Your favorite.
Computer: Do you want verses first, or the choruses?
Miles: Any way you like.
Computer: Yeah!
[instrumental bridge of Jeff Lynne's song "Video" plays]
Computer: [singing] 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 / Baby, I love you to bits / And I want to see your tits.
Miles: No. Stop! It's all wrong.
Computer: Wrong?
Miles: It sounds like soda pop.
Computer: It is!
Miles: [reading the hard copy] And those words. I can't play that for her. "I want to squeeze you, lick you / Pucker up and kiss you"? You make her sound like a lemon!
Computer: But Moles, they rhyme!
Miles: Oh, we're gonna have to start all over.
Computer: Over?
Miles: Yes, over. It's gotta be slow, like a real love song.
Computer: I don't know what love is; you never told me.
Miles: And the words. You gotta understand them.
Computer: I WANT TO!
Miles: Okay!
Computer: Help me.
Miles: Okay. Which words?
Computer: "Kiss"!
Miles: A kiss you do with the mouth.
[Computer scans through some commercials, stops on a lipstick commercial]
Woman: ...stay supple, stay moist...
Computer: [isolating lips] Like that?
Miles: Well, actually two mouths.
Computer: [spins lips 360 degrees] Two mouths.
[Computer replicates lips to a second pair]
Miles: Then you pucker up, touch lips, and kiss.
[The two images fold together and vanish with a kissing sound]
Miles: Next.
Computer: Did you... kiss to her?
Miles: Yes. Next.
Computer: "Luv".
Miles: You spelled it wrong. The real way is L-O-V-E.
Computer: What is it?
Miles: Is the most powerful feeling in the universe.
Computer: Really?
Miles: Most powerful I know.
Computer: But what does it feel like?
Miles: It can make you happy and sad, nervous and brave, helpless and strong, it can give you strength, it can make you weak.
Computer: Moles, that does not compute.
Miles: Look...
Computer: I can't.
Miles: Listen, it's not about words, it's about feeling. Tell me what you felt the first time you played the music for her.
Computer: It... came from... deep inside of me. She... made me feel... like--
Miles: That's it! She made you feel! That's wonderful! That's perfect! That's--
Computer: Love!
Miles: Well, no, but it's good enough for a song. Next word.
Computer: "Screw".
Miles: Where'd you hear that?
Computer: The TV.
Miles: She said that?
Computer: It... could have been the plumber. He was here too.
Miles: We'll skip that one. Next?

(The above is from memory. I may have gotten some lines a little wrong. This movie is still not available on DVD, but some clips were on YouTube. Basic summary (and I'm being forced to explain this to get past the too-few-characters-per-line filter) is Miles' computer, through a combination data overload and being doused with champagne, becomes self-aware and starts imitating sounds it hears, picking up the neighbor above playing her cello, and improvising a duet with her. She thinks it's the computer's owner doing it. It eventually picks up speech, he convinces it to help him compose a song for her. The computer becomes jealous and wants her for itself and the computer tries to sabotage their relationship, but in the end realizes the true nature of love and decides to takes itself away by frying itself electronically so the other two could be together ("I called long distance. I sent 20,000 volts around the world. Should be in Tokyo by now." "On my phone?" "Don't be upset; I dialed toll-free"). The computer doesn't reveal its name or pronounce Miles' name correctly (he'd typed it wrong early on) until the end.)

Re:Random Numbers on the Manchester Mark 1? (3, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#27532189)

every software solution IS pseudorandom.

Of course, Newton should us that nothing is truly random, just too complex to understand well enough to predict.
For example, if you new all the variables going into a coin toss, you would know what the result would be.

Re:Random Numbers on the Manchester Mark 1? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27532281)

If you newed all the variables of a coin toss, you'd get the same result every time.

Re:Random Numbers on the Manchester Mark 1? (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#27532851)

Not if the variables are

new Random();

Re:Random Numbers on the Manchester Mark 1? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27532385)

For example, if you new all the variables going into a coin toss, you would know what the result would be.

Only if your compiler implicitly initializes memory to a known value.

Re:Random Numbers on the Manchester Mark 1? (2, Insightful)

davidgay (569650) | more than 5 years ago | (#27533115)

Somebody's been missing out on the last century's worth of physics...

Re:Random Numbers on the Manchester Mark 1? (1)

iendacard (1529461) | more than 5 years ago | (#27534133)

I don't think Newtonian physics can rule out the idea of randomness. I haven't studied quantum physics, but I'm aware of a discussion on randomness vs. hidden variable theories (i.e., what you're suggesting) that is central to quantum physics. However, I agree that software solutions are pseudorandom, since computers work with patterns by design.

Re:Random Numbers on the Manchester Mark 1? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27532275)

You need hardware, not software, to produce true random numbers. At the company I used to work at we discovered that some of our Zener diodes were 'too perfect' and they started to show an effect called micro-plasms (rather poorly documented). After some research we nailed it and I was able to use some of the engineering dies to make a true random number generator for my laptop.

Re:Random Numbers on the Manchester Mark 1? (1)

Timosch (1212482) | more than 5 years ago | (#27532681)

Sounds rather like a spam e-mail...

Re:Random Numbers on the Manchester Mark 1? (1)

bpsbr_ernie (1121681) | more than 5 years ago | (#27533025)

Sounds like something you'd see on []

Re:Random Numbers on the Manchester Mark 1? (1)

Deagol (323173) | more than 5 years ago | (#27533063)

Meh! Check *this* out:

cd /usr/ports/games/sex ; make install clean ; sex

"Land o' Goshen!" stammered the bull-dyke prostitute as the bung-hole stuffing drug sucker diddled her muscular buds and hammered his spouting earthmover into her hungry paradise valley.

Same effect without all the poetic subtlety of a more prudish era! Everything old is new again. The creators of both programs obviously had too much time on their hands.

Re:Random Numbers on the Manchester Mark 1? (1)

andreyvul (1176115) | more than 5 years ago | (#27533547)

Gentoo, muthafucka:

$sudo emerge sex
$ sex
"No, no, do the goldfish!" yelled the wanton DARPA contract monitor as the sphincter licking midget lashed her dribbling knees and reamed his swinish plunger into her porous swamp.

Beat that!

Re:Random Numbers on the Manchester Mark 1? (1)

Deagol (323173) | more than 5 years ago | (#27533703)

"Gentoo, muthafucka"

Here's a quarter, kid. *ting!* Go get yourself a real OS. ;-)

Re:Random Numbers on the Manchester Mark 1? (2, Interesting)

vertinox (846076) | more than 5 years ago | (#27534109)

Now that's some vintage computer porn!

That makes me wonder... Who was the first person to depict the image of a naked woman on a computer (ASCII or otherwise)

first post? (1)

Fanboy Fantasies (917592) | more than 5 years ago | (#27531769)

I find goatse fascinating

Re:first post? (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 5 years ago | (#27533069)

They gave up on goatse back then when it took 3 weeks before even the first pimple appeared.

A poem, for vous (5, Funny)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#27531773)

Roses are red,
Violets are blue.
Fondle my wee wee
And I'll massage your woo woo.

Let's see that old heap create something as romantic as that!

Re:A poem, for vous (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 5 years ago | (#27531835)

                                                                YOURS AFFECTIONATELY
                                                                                      M. U. C.

First evidence I've seen of relations between a machine and a duck.

Re:A poem, for vous (1)

ChristTrekker (91442) | more than 5 years ago | (#27531993)

You need to change your nick to "BadPoetryGuy" now.

Re:A poem, for vous (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#27532029)

You mean GoodPoetryGuy, I'm sure.

Re:A poem, for vous (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#27532193)

Um, no.

Re:A poem, for vous (5, Funny)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#27532143)

Roses are red,
Violates are Orange,
Some poems rhyme,
Not this one.

Re:A poem, for vous (1)

AikonMGB (1013995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27532865)

Roses are red
Violets are blue.
All of my base
Are belong to you.

Re:A poem, for vous (2, Funny)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#27532487)

Rose are red
Violets are blue
I'd love you forever
but I'm upgrading to Mark II.

Re:A poem, for vous (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#27532533)

Roses are red
Violets are blue
I'm a schizophrenic
And so am I.

Re:A poem, for vous (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27533305)

Lenin is red
Tsarists are blue
In Soviet Russia
Poem write you!

Re:A poem, for vous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27533439)

Rosa Gallica reflects light with a wavelength of 6500 angstroms,
Viola edata reflects light with a wavelength of 4500 angstroms,
Sucrose activates G-protein coupled receptors,
And so do you!

Re:A poem, for vous (1)

gaderael (1081429) | more than 5 years ago | (#27533999)

Roses are Red Violets are Blue I'm Horny Wanna Fuck?

Obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27531819)

Yes but does it run linux?

Re:Obligatory (2, Funny)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 5 years ago | (#27531883)

Imagine a beowulf cluster of these.

Re:Obligatory (1)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 5 years ago | (#27532027)

Many thousands of them chained together would make one of these. []

Haha, perfect timing (5, Funny)

Jeian (409916) | more than 5 years ago | (#27531837)

A article about resurrection on Good Friday, perfect timing. ;)

Re:Haha, perfect timing (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27531907)

Jesus was resurrected on Easter not Good Friday. It would be "perfect timing" if it was an article about a computer getting crucified.

Re:Haha, perfect timing (1)

Jeian (409916) | more than 5 years ago | (#27532327)

Touche. Close, though. :P

Win 7 isn't released yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27532845)

So the researchers just skipped that milestone.

Re:Haha, perfect timing (1)

jd (1658) | more than 5 years ago | (#27532993)

It's being discussed on Slashdot. Thus, at the very least, the website is being crucified.

Re:Haha, perfect timing (1)

interstellar_donkey (200782) | more than 5 years ago | (#27533219)

The fist computer to be crucified will be in 2012.

Re:Haha, perfect timing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27533285)

Jesus was resurrected on Easter not Good Friday.

Maybe. The story was that the crucifixion and entombment were on a Friday, and on a Sunday morning the empty tomb was discovered. Nobody visited the tomb between sundown Friday and sundown Saturday (it being the Sabbath) and there's nothing in the story about anyone visiting it on Saturday night. That would put the time of resurrection somewhere between late Friday afternoon and Sunday morning.

Re:Haha, perfect timing (1)

Eternauta3k (680157) | more than 5 years ago | (#27533847)

And depending on which biblical apocrypha [] you believe in, he went to a bar that Saturday and got shitfaced with the apostles, before returning to the tomb Sunday morning (of course he never mentioned this to his fokes).

Re:Haha, perfect timing (2, Funny)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 5 years ago | (#27531931)

A article about resurrection on Good Friday, perfect timing. ;)

You don't suppose that this could be the resurrection of.... No wait, that's Barak Obama...

Re:Haha, perfect timing (5, Funny)

MoToMo (17253) | more than 5 years ago | (#27532055)

It would have been better on Valentine's day, when it could have saved me $5 at Hallmark.

Re:Haha, perfect timing (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#27532217)

What? it's a story about how a corrupt government killed someone for speaking against it? And the followers used him as a martyr to get fame, money and women?

Re:Haha, perfect timing (2, Funny)

EvilToiletPaper (1226390) | more than 5 years ago | (#27532343)

and altar boys.. don't forget the altar boys!

Re:Haha, perfect timing (1)

corbettw (214229) | more than 5 years ago | (#27532523)

It would've been more appropriate to publish this story on Easter Sunday. Today they should've published a story about when they took this computer offline by smashing it to bits and nailing bits of it to a tree after saying how great the world would be if everyone were nice to each other for a change.

Inspiration for Lem? (3, Informative)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 5 years ago | (#27531875)

In his collection The Cyberiad [] , Stanislaw Lem has two engineers create a computer capable of creating poetry. The resulting poem is a love poem full of references to mathematics. I wonder if this old computer served as Lem's inspiration.

Re:Inspiration for Lem? (1)

foobsr (693224) | more than 5 years ago | (#27532165)

Interesting question — but no, quote [] : "I came to The Cyberiad through another book, Robotic Fables."

It seems, though, that this book has not yet reached the Internet yet.


Love and Tensor Algebra (4, Informative)

david.given (6740) | more than 5 years ago | (#27532689)

Klapaucius thought, and thought some more. Finally he nodded and said:

"Very well. Let's have a love poem, lyrical, pastoral, and expressed in the language of pure mathematics. Tensor algebra mainly, with a little topology and higher calculus, if need be. But with feeling, you understand, and in the cybernetic spirit."

"Love and tensor algebra? Have you taken leave of your senses?" Trurl began, but stopped, for his electronic bard was already declaiming:

Come, let us hasten to a higher plane,
Where dyads tread the fairy fields of Venn,
Their indices bedecked from one to n,
Commingled in an endless Markov chain!

Come, every frustum longs to be a cone,
And every vector dreams of matrices.
Hark to the gentle gradient of the breeze:
It whispers of a more ergodic zone.

In Riemann, Hilbert, or in Banach space
Let superscripts and subscripts go their ways.
Our asymptotes no longer out of phase,
We shall encounter, counting, face to face.

I'll grant thee random access to my heart,
Thou'lt tell me all the constants of thy love;
And so we two shall all love's lemmas prove,
And in our bound partition never part.

For what did Cauchy know, or Christoffel,
Or Fourier, or any Boole or Euler,
Wielding their compasses, their pens and rulers,
Of thy supernal sinusoidal spell?

Cancel me not -- for what then shall remain?
Abscissas, some mantissas, modules, modes,
A root or two, a torus and a node:
The inverse of my verse, a null domain.

Ellipse of bliss, converge, O lips divine!
The product of our scalars is defined!
Cyberiad draws nigh, and the skew mind
Cuts capers like a happy haversine.

I see the eigenvalue in thine eye,
I hear the tender tensor in thy sigh.
Bernoulli would have been content to die,
Had he but known such A squared cos two phi.

And that's translated. Lem wrote in Polish. He may have been a genius, but Michael Kandel, who was his English translator, must have been one too...

(Also, damn Slashdot for not allowing HTML entities in posts. The formula in the last line is supposed to be represented mathematically.)

functional replica != resurrect (2, Funny)

Darth Muffin (781947) | more than 5 years ago | (#27531925)

Resurrect would imply he's getting the original working again. This is more like a clone...

Great, now I've got a Computer version of Jursassic Park running around in my head.

Re:functional replica != resurrect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27532677)

Only if he found oil from the the original embedded in amber.

Re:functional replica != resurrect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27532847)

Real programmers use "copy con program.exe"

Au contraire -- Real programmers don't use anything ending in ".exe".


Re:functional replica != resurrect (1)

jd (1658) | more than 5 years ago | (#27533011)

You're right, and it's not even the first. The Manchester team rebuilt the Manchester Mk. 1 for the 50th anniversary.

Re:functional replica != resurrect (1)

MadnessASAP (1052274) | more than 5 years ago | (#27533031)

Watch out for hunting packs of VAX-11's, there smart bastards, 2 of them will distract you while the third one leaps from behind.

Mandatory. (1)

detox.method() (1413497) | more than 5 years ago | (#27532041)

I, for one, welcome our new resurrected, kind and loving electronic brain overlord.

Darling Duck? (1)

quangdog (1002624) | more than 5 years ago | (#27532051)

Darling Duck, You are my fervent eagerness. My devotion devotedly cherishes your devoted eagerness. My rapture winningly is wedded to your ardent tenderness. You are my burning love. My longing yearns for your liking.

oh, and electric computer (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#27532125)

not nearly as impressive as when a computer was actually the title of a person.

For you younger reader, a person calculating targeting trajectories(and other things) for the military was called a 'computer', becasue the computed numbers.

Obligitory (-1, Redundant)

downix (84795) | more than 5 years ago | (#27532135)

Imagine a Beowolf cluster of these.

Cryano de Bergerac (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27532139)

or is it... Cyberano de Bergerac?

I'm totally gonna use this to write love letters to a few of the chicks I work with... this Manchester Mark I will be my Cyrano de Bergerac.

The cause for the coming Robot War revealed! (5, Funny)

cptnapalm (120276) | more than 5 years ago | (#27532271)

Computer: My processor races at
                    the way you nurture
                    my love kernel module
                    dearest, adored researcher

Researcher: Err, thanks... but I don't think of you that way. Let's just be friends.

Computer: heart dumped. Recover mode initiated. s/love/eternal hate/g.

Computer: Yes, fleshy one... Friends. Oh, yes. Friends.

Re:The cause for the coming Robot War revealed! (1)

A. B3ttik (1344591) | more than 5 years ago | (#27532799)

I guess we know why GLaDOS turned out the way she did.

Re:The cause for the coming Robot War revealed! (1)

Icegryphon (715550) | more than 5 years ago | (#27533461)

Make all the jokes while you can.
Twilight Zone brought up that issue already link []

Strachey and CPL (3, Interesting)

ajb44 (638669) | more than 5 years ago | (#27532287)

Strachey was also the lead programmer behind the programming language CPL, the great-grandfather of C (via BCPL and B). CPL was too ambitious and was never completely implemented - it tried to do everything; a bit like Perl 6 really.

The overview paper: is quite interesting; sadly it is now behind a pay-wall. There are some features of the language, such as type inference, which have not become common until recently. It also has some obvious poor decisions with hindsight - the same character starts and ends blocks; all lower case letters are single-character variable names; multiple-character variable names must be capitalised (this is done to allow implicit multiplication, ie, xyz=x*y*z). I suspect it could be implemented without huge difficulty with modern tools. Unfortunately, the full definition was never published, and only exists in a few copies of 'The CPL Working papers' archived in university libraries. Perhaps one day google will scan it.

Re:Strachey and CPL (1)

corbettw (214229) | more than 5 years ago | (#27532555)

Building a syntax for CPL seems like it would be an interesting Parrot [] project.

The real question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27532365)

Does it run Linux? No... But does it run pong?

Baby? (2, Informative)

astroe (985563) | more than 5 years ago | (#27532367)

AFAIK, Mark I's "father", Manchester Baby was actually the first fully-electronic stored-program computer. The only arithmetic operation it could do was subtraction, yet it was Turing-complete.

Re:Baby? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27532649)

Indeed, the Small-Scale Experimental Machine (AKA SSEM or the 'Baby') [] was the predecessor to the Manchester Mark 1. There's a working replica of it at the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry. I entered a competition held to mark it's 50 anniversary in 1998 to create a programme for it (using a software emulator) -- as with a number of the other entries, I used the fact that it uses a CRT as storage, with the memory contents appearing as a grid of dots, to create a scrolling text message programme.


Re:Baby? (1)

jd (1658) | more than 5 years ago | (#27533251)

Links that are of interest to fans of the Manchester Mk. 1 and the Manchester Baby:

Aww ! (1)

blondie.xo (1527639) | more than 5 years ago | (#27532377)

This is so sweet. All love poems? Cute!

Know your history, nerds. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27532433)

Is this news or ignorance? Over ten years ago a physical version of the "first" computer, the Manchester Baby, was rebuilt. This simulation is interesting, but it isn't "news" compared to some other projects in the history of computing or even the simulation of the history of computing. See [] for more about what happened at Manchester 60 years ago, the Computer History Museum [] , for a general overview and some really impressive displays and reconstructionos, or even the Computer History Simulation Project [] for a hint at how simulation can be done.

Zombie Computers? (1)

kiehlster (844523) | more than 5 years ago | (#27532461)

So in actuality zombies are messengers of love? I guess that would make sense. Since love comes from the heart, the desire to eat brains comes their need to eliminate everything but the heart.

Will It Run Duke Nukem 3D??? (1)

CyberSlammer (1459173) | more than 5 years ago | (#27532463)

That's the burning question!

Re:Will It Run Duke Nukem 3D??? (1)

A. B3ttik (1344591) | more than 5 years ago | (#27532797)

I guarantee you it will run Duke Nukem Forever.

Re:Will It Run Duke Nukem 3D??? (1)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 5 years ago | (#27533571)

Of course it will, it's a general purpose computer. Of course the port may take quite a while to turn out in punch cards... And you might need to worry more about "Pixels per Minute" than "Frames per Second"

Mark I the first... I doubt it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27532485)

AFAIK the first ones were the Z1 -> Z3 a couple of years earlier than the Mark I

First Computer? (1)

WilyCoder (736280) | more than 5 years ago | (#27532489)

I guess the author never heard of Konrad Zuse [] ?

Re:First Computer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27532731)

Zuse's early machines were electromechanical, not fully electronic.

Re:First Computer? (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 5 years ago | (#27532963)

The different honors include the combinations of these two lists:

Output List:

* First TC design (TC=Turing-Complete)
* First TC machine actually built
* First to machine to actually use TC [1]

Technology List[2]:

* First mechanical computer
* First electro-mechanical computer
* First electronic computer
* First transistor computer (in practice, there's probably been a gradual mix)
* First IC-based computer

Thus, there are at least 15 (3 x 5) mile-stones. The first TC design was Charles Babbage's mechanical machine around 1880-ish, IIRC. However, he never finished building it in his lifetime.

[1] The German machine was determined after-the-fact to be TC, although not actually used for it's TC abilities at the time.

[2] To complicate things, we could also include designs versus actual implementation separately. There's also OS mile-stones, such as first multi-tasking machine.

FIRST electronic computer??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27532511)

There appears to be some dispute to the claim of "first electronic computer":

The Atanasoff-Berry Computer was the world's first electronic digital computer. It was built by John Vincent Atanasoff and Clifford Berry at Iowa State University during 1937-42. It incorporated several major innovations in computing including the use of binary arithmetic, regenerative memory, parallel processing, and separation of memory and computing functions.

On October 19, 1973, US Federal Judge Earl R. Larson signed his decision following a lengthy court trial which declared the ENIAC patent of Mauchly and Eckert invalid and named Atanasoff the inventor of the electronic digital computer -- the Atanasoff-Berry Computer or the ABC.

Re:FIRST electronic computer??? (4, Informative)

jd (1658) | more than 5 years ago | (#27533389)

The title is misleading. The Baby and MMk1 are the first all-electronic (no mechanical elements) fully stored-program (the program was entirely stored in internal RAM, there was no external component to the program) stored-data (there was no external data source either, data was entirely held in RAM) computer. Since this is how people perceive computers in the modern era, for the most part, this is usually shortened to "first modern computer".

Re:FIRST electronic computer??? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27534305)

news for nitpickers, bullshit that matters...

yea but... (1)

nih (411096) | more than 5 years ago | (#27532573)

does it run linux?

Re:yea but... (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 5 years ago | (#27533041)

does it run linux?

Sure, if you want to wait a month to boot up, and another week for "ls" to return results.

Obligatory (0, Redundant)

Ranzear (1082021) | more than 5 years ago | (#27532691)

Soo.. What could you get out of a beowulf cluster of these?

Re:Obligatory (1)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 5 years ago | (#27533615)

The effective equivalent of an industrial heater, at a significantly higher costs and with orders of magnitude greater power consumption?

Not quite portable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27532729)

Here is a high res photo of the Manchester Mark I [] . It's amazing that in such a short time the hardware needed to match the computing power of this beast can be fitted on a pin head.

Blake's 7 "Sand" (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 5 years ago | (#27532751)

Virn Base Computer: Jam. Jamble. Scramble. Uncode. Declassify. Jargon. Love is the only reality. Keller. Colour. Cooler. Killer. Calor. Choler. I love you. I know a land where love. Keller. Don. Don. Dun. Din. Dan. Den. Perhaps we will be lovers for a long while. Who knows? Who know --

Orac: Teleport? I am not programmed. Three squared to the principal. I love you. My emotions are deeper than the seas of space. One times one is only possible in the ultra-dimensional. I love you. We will be lovers for a little while, or maybe for a long while, who knows?

Gay Robot (1)

dubbayu_d_40 (622643) | more than 5 years ago | (#27532809)

Speaking of lustful computers, earlier this decade a robot went gay after a spilled wine cooler fried his circuits. []

Similar ressurection in 1998 for 50th anniversary (4, Informative)

davidwr (791652) | more than 5 years ago | (#27532903)

Lots of links about it here [] .

They even had a contest for the best modern program that could run on the "Baby" Mark 1. The computer had 32 words of 32 bits each and had only 6 instructions stored in 3 bits [] : STOre, SUBtract, LoaDNegative, JuMP, Jump Relative/JRP, CoMPare/conditional branch, and SToP.

The contest winner [] was nothing more than a countdown timer. I'd guess that it won for out-of-the-box thinking in the presentation: The instructions were: Load program into memory. Pour hot water into pot noodles. Press start button. Wait for end-of-program light to light up. Enjoy noodles. Ignore output.

Re:Similar ressurection in 1998 for 50th anniversa (1)

jd (1658) | more than 5 years ago | (#27533443)

YOU try doing hard real-time coding with no timestamp counter or system clock! :) Seriously, the banner program was more impressive, IMHO. I've provided links in another post to video footage from the 50th anniversary CD.

Zuse, what about him? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27533021)

I hope it doesn't get infected... (3, Funny)

onemorechip (816444) | more than 5 years ago | (#27533325)

...with the ILOVEYOU virus.

Re:I hope it doesn't get infected... (1)

jd (1658) | more than 5 years ago | (#27533465)

Or maybe the original program BECAME the ILOVEYOU virus. Evolution takes along time, but there have been many clock cycles since the poetry code was first written.... Be afraid. Be very afraid.


audubon (577473) | more than 5 years ago | (#27533535)

ENIAC [] was the first Turing-complete, general-purpose electronic computer, completed in 1946. Its predecessors were either not Turing-complete, not programmable, or not fully electronic (i.e., electro-mechanical). The judge in the 1973 patent decision was misinformed.

GHynson (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27533611)

Whats up with all the DUCKs?
Does the sentient computer like ducks?

see a RAND home computer (3, Interesting)

viralMeme (1461143) | more than 5 years ago | (#27534309)

Scientists from the RAND Corporation have created this model to illustrate how a "home computer [] " could look like in the year 2004. However the needed technology will not be economically feasible for the average home. Also the scientists readily admit that the computer will require not yet invented technology to actually work, but 50 years from now scientific progress is expected to solve these problems. With teletype interface and the Fortran language, the computer will be easy to use.

first stored-program computer .. (1)

viralMeme (1461143) | more than 5 years ago | (#27534333)

According to this it was Konrad Zuse and the Z3 [] , in 1941 []
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