Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

How Computers Work -- Circa 1979

timothy posted about 9 years ago | from the everything-was-in-black-and-white dept.

Books 248

Guinnessy writes "In a younger, more innocent time, Ladybird Books came out with a series of children's books called "How things work." Someone has put the 1971 and 1979 versions of How Computers Work onto the web. It's a fascinating glance at how much computers have advanced since the silicon chip was introduced. State-of-the-art in 1971 consisted of fitting thirty components into a 1 cm3 volume."

cancel ×

248 comments

I've got the 1979 version of this book... (2, Informative)

gefafwysp (707762) | about 9 years ago | (#13098279)

...and its proper title is "How it Works... The Computer"!

Re:I've got the 1979 version of this book... (1)

qewl (671495) | about 9 years ago | (#13098449)

From the same publishers as, "How to %s", program;

sorry, bad joke.

First Prime Factorization Post (3, Interesting)

2*2*3*75011 (900132) | about 9 years ago | (#13098280)

1971 = 3*3*3*73
1979 is prime

OMG is this mirrored?! (3, Funny)

0xdeaddead (797696) | about 9 years ago | (#13098282)

I feel it being /.'d like now... Although I know why my computer room sucks now, our tiles are not orange... :|

dupe!! (3, Funny)

gambit3 (463693) | about 9 years ago | (#13098297)

Dibs on dupe!!

Do I get a prize?

Second that! (5, Funny)

imsabbel (611519) | about 9 years ago | (#13098333)

Wanted to get the link to the old article, only to realizs just HOW RETARTED ./s search fuction really is. My guess is it doesnt actually search, but randomly choses articles, and the search term seeds the rendom number generator

Re:Second that! (1)

Neil Blender (555885) | about 9 years ago | (#13098421)

The search is completely weak if you search for more than one word. You have to search for an uncommon word that you know was in the summary. Try 1979 and you find it (this story, the dupe is third in the list.) By the way, search engines are very complex so what do expect here?

Re:Second that! (2, Insightful)

nn5ks (245781) | about 9 years ago | (#13098424)

Helps make it difficult to find dupes...

--
Nobody really understands sigs.

Re:Second that! (4, Informative)

oberondarksoul (723118) | about 9 years ago | (#13098427)

I gave up on Slashdot's search ages ago - try using Google instead. Using "site:slashdot.org" then the search term usually works wonders.

Re:dupe!! (1)

bugnuts (94678) | about 9 years ago | (#13098636)

This is definitely one place you can't win the

"Frist post!1!!!" wars.

[joke] (3, Funny)

Lord Bitman (95493) | about 9 years ago | (#13098298)

[insert joke about how fascinating it is looking back at what links from two+ years ago were like here]

Repost! (3, Informative)

willith (218835) | about 9 years ago | (#13098299)

Repost from November 04 [slashdot.org] . Not bad, considering!

Re:Repost! (2, Funny)

madprof (4723) | about 9 years ago | (#13098507)

It is fascinating to see how Slashdot editing has advanced over time.
Back in November 2004 dupes were occuring only a few days apart. In July 2005 they are taking 8 months to occur!

The times, they are a-changin' (3, Interesting)

cagle_.25 (715952) | about 9 years ago | (#13098300)

Interesting that tape and disk were competing media back in the day. Now they each have specialized uses (backup and storage, resp.).

My first 5.25" was a Commodore external drive. It cost me about $300, IIRC. I was so psyched! Until I went to college and saw the 30MB HDDs for Macs. :-)

Re:The times, they are a-changin' (2, Insightful)

Monte (48723) | about 9 years ago | (#13098332)

Tapes were cheap (relatively), Winchester drives (ie, Hard Drives, Fixed Disks, DASD, etc) were expensive. Like $500/meg expensive.

But then a meg was a lot of space back then... because pr0n was all really low-resultion stuff that came out on line printers.

Ok, who's going to be first to post a link to line-printer pr0n? :)

Re:The times, they are a-changin' (3, Informative)

ttldkns (737309) | about 9 years ago | (#13098569)

meeee!!

Today you will be oggling Roxanne [asciipr0n.com]

what i posted first now what do i win? ;)

Re:The times, they are a-changin' (1)

Monte (48723) | about 9 years ago | (#13098590)

what i posted first now what do i win?

The sound of my hearty laughter, and my gratitude: I have now bookmarked "asciipr0n.com".

Double points if you can find some EBCDIC pr0n :)

HUH? (0, Redundant)

SWTP_OS9 (658064) | about 9 years ago | (#13098306)

Wasent this already poster a few months back?

Dupe! (1)

98jonesd (633833) | about 9 years ago | (#13098308)

I'm sure this was posted last year also, 'cos I used some scans of this book for a college project at the time.
I should search for it, but I can not be arsed at this moment in time.

W00t!!1! (3, Funny)

Monte (48723) | about 9 years ago | (#13098309)

Check out those pictures of hot data-processing chixors! Man, 70s era DP babes. Be still, my heart.

Co-incidence? (2, Insightful)

mccalli (323026) | about 9 years ago | (#13098340)

Check out those pictures of hot data-processing chixors! Man, 70s era DP babes. Be still, my heart.

At the time of writing, the quote at the bottom of the page is:
"To be loved is very demoralizing. -- Katharine Hepburn"

I think I'm beginning to get what she meant. Mind you, as I pointed out the first time this was posted, they do seem to have Emma Peel working for them [brinkster.net] .

Cheers,
Ian

DP, huh? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13098540)

Man, 70s era DP babes. Be still, my heart.

Brother, double-penetration is hot, no matter what the era.

Re:W00t!!1! (1)

Blapto (839626) | about 9 years ago | (#13098546)

Argh!

I saw data-processing. I then saw DP next to it and though "Dual penetration? A little out of place in a book for children!".

Re:W00t!!1! (1)

frank_adrian314159 (469671) | about 9 years ago | (#13098610)

Check out those pictures of hot data-processing chixors! Man, 70s era DP babes. Be still, my heart.

Dude! That's yo mama!

Re:W00t!!1! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13098616)

How do you figure they were double-penetration babes?

fucking eh. (1)

op00to (219949) | about 9 years ago | (#13098316)

Re:fucking eh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13098338)

OK, it's a dupe, but I don't care. It was news to me, and I thought it was very interesting. Just shut up you pompous morons.

Illustrations (4, Interesting)

bobcat7677 (561727) | about 9 years ago | (#13098327)

A quick glance at the pictures also gives one a sense of how styles have changed since the 1970s as well. Gotta love the hair on the picture of the chic carrying a tape reel in the datacenter:P

So glad we don't use stacks of punch cards anymore. I mean can you imagine how many truckloads of punch cards you would need to install windows XP? :P

Re:Illustrations (4, Interesting)

Monte (48723) | about 9 years ago | (#13098407)

I mean can you imagine how many truckloads of punch cards you would need to install windows XP?

Let's assume we need all of a 650Meg ISO image to instal Windows XP. That's 650x1024^2 or 681,574,400 byes. A standard Hollerith punch card can hold 80 bytes, so we need 8,519,680 cards.

Big assumption here, if someone has better data please chime in - but I'm going to assume 75 Hollerith cards stack to one inch, so we're talking 113,596 or so inches worth of cards, 9,466 feet.

Assuming a semi trailer is 28 feet long, that's 338 stacks. Which is as far as I'm going to take it, but it's not a full truckload.

However one should never underestimate the bandwidth of a truckload of tapes.

Re:Illustrations (1)

bobcat7677 (561727) | about 9 years ago | (#13098530)

I was thinking pickup trucks. But anyway, still seems silly to have to use a common carrier to deliver the installation software for your operating system:P

Re:Illustrations (1)

Monte (48723) | about 9 years ago | (#13098570)

You're right, of course - back in my day we'd the punch the contents of paper hex dumps through the front panel of the processor LIKE REAL MEN, and we enjoyed it, by God.

And we didn't use those puny 5 1/4" floppies, no, our disks were EIGHT BIG INCHES!

[insert Tim Allen grunts]

In the future... (1)

the_sidewinder (850641) | about 9 years ago | (#13098335)

Computers with touch screens, Woooo!

Must get into that feild!

l337 (2, Funny)

razathorn (151590) | about 9 years ago | (#13098336)

If I went back in time with my old 266 laptop and spoke leet speak... I'd get all the compu-hotties.

How Slashdot works...The Dupe! (4, Funny)

toupsie (88295) | about 9 years ago | (#13098337)


10 STORY = "How Computers Work -- Circa 1979"
20 POST STORY
30 SLEEP RAND(TIME)
40 GOTO 20

Re:How Slashdot works...The Dupe! (0, Offtopic)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | about 9 years ago | (#13098384)

Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government.

It beats a lot of the other methods in common use today!

If it walks like a duck, and talks like a duck: Vote for it!

Re:How Slashdot works...The Dupe! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13098447)

Heh, spot the bitter guy who put his back out trying to wrench a sword out of a stone...

Re:How Slashdot works...The Dupe! (1)

bobcat7677 (561727) | about 9 years ago | (#13098389)

Wow! I had no idea the slashdot site was written in quick basic. I'm going to go check out the slashcode site now. I have to see this!

[Yes, I know...but I had to post something like this this week. One must maintain balance of carma :D ]

Re:How Slashdot works...The Dupe! (2, Funny)

hexed_2050 (841538) | about 9 years ago | (#13098635)

That's not a correct assumption. You saw the punch cards. They said COBOL on them.

Re:How Slashdot works...The Dupe! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13098443)

it would have been more like:
10 LET STORY$ = "How Computers Work -- Circa 1979"
20 POST STORY$
30 FOR I = 1 to 100000:
40 GOTO 20
its like php turned upside down... and nobody would have called "sleep" in 1979 except one of those hippies at xerox parc...

Can't anybody program in BASIC anymore? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13098558)

You need this:

35 next I

Otherwise, your "for" loop will never increment. As written, your program will post dupes as fast as the CPU can run... but still slower than Taco.

Re:How Slashdot works...The Dupe! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13098477)

50 profit
60 rem -- notice how we never reach 50

Just wait 25 more years (0, Redundant)

mfloy (899187) | about 9 years ago | (#13098341)

I think in 25 more years things will be even more drastically changed. We are reaching the end of the transister, and the next tech is going to be even more impressive.

Re:Just wait 25 more years (1)

HCIdivision17 (899510) | about 9 years ago | (#13098457)

Imagine: Childrens books outlining how qbits work and why room temperture superconducting cables allow the child's wallpaper to interact with him or her in real-time.

Re:Just wait 25 more years (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13098556)

I think in *50* more years things will be even MORE drastically changed! We will be reaching the end of that thingy that replaced the transister [transistor?] and the next tech is going to be even MORE impressive!

[sits back and waits for accolades]

Insightful?!? Geeezzzz....

Would've been caught but..... (1)

MrAnnoyanceToYou (654053) | about 9 years ago | (#13098347)

That subscriber bonus 15 mins somehow didn't work. So Dupe and BUG both at the same time. My Beastie Boys background music agrees with me.

Are people still interested (3, Interesting)

Zane Hopkins (894230) | about 9 years ago | (#13098350)

It seems nowdays with computers being so commonplace that most folk are just not interested in 'how computers work' anymore. Thats certainly what I see when I get called round to fix peoples machines. They just want them to work.

Perhaps we /.'s are evolving out of existance?

Too bad for us (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13098355)

Since only the 5 kings of Europe own computers these days

November Deja Vu (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13098357)

Considering that Taco's original department was "doomed-to-repeat-ourselves dept" it only seems appropriate that they would rerun this one...

when this was first issued ...... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13098367)

the British Ministry of Defence ordered a print run of about 20,000 in plain covers to issue to soldiers as an explanation of how computers worked.
It was a pretty succinct explanation for neophytes

copying idiots (0, Flamebait)

tverbeek (457094) | about 9 years ago | (#13098368)

It never ceases to amaze me that people (such as the operator of that site) will reproduce something, and include a prominent copyright notice for the original publisher: "Copyright © Ladybird Books Ltd, 1971, 1979, not to be reproduced without permission of Ladybird Books Ltd."

Or in other words, "Don't do what I just did."

I'm not trying to argue one side of the copyright debate or the other here, but please choose a position and be consistent about it: either you respect the copyright (in which case you don't put these books on the web without permission in the first place) or you don't respect it (in which case you leave off the notice lecturing people not to do it).

Re:copying idiots (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13098488)

What if he had obtained permission to do so ? Would that make you the idiot ?

They are obeying the law. (3, Informative)

reality-bytes (119275) | about 9 years ago | (#13098561)

According to the UK govt copyright office:

Copyright in a published edition expires 25 years from the end of the year in which the edition was first published.


So apparently, this work by virtue of being copyright 1971 and 1979 is actually copyright expired.

Here is the page I refer to: LINK [intellectu...rty.gov.uk]

I've got this! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13098371)

My slightly scuffed copy of the late 70s edition has a proud place on my computer bookshelf, along with a lot of blue ORA Perl books, some XP, Secrets and Lies, Crash!, Northcutt & Novak's "Intrusion Detection", "Repelling the Wily Hacker", K&R, 'Essential Sysadmin' and other essential tomes.. and my first ever computer books: the 1982 Microcomputer Diary, and Melbourne House "Spectrum Machine Language for the Absolute Beginner".

Yes, I am a proud member of the UK's own Association of Sad Bastards.

I had a similar experience (2, Interesting)

B11 (894359) | about 9 years ago | (#13098372)

When I was sorting through my junk in the garage, I found a volume of a 1986 world book encyclopedia, which had the computer article in it. Old school all the way, describing "expensive color graphics" and "costly, permanent, hard disk drives." It was amazing to see see how much progess was made in the span of 2 decades. The encyclopedia was describing memory in terms of kb, although I forgot how much memory it listed as being ideal or "fast." The tips it had on purchasing a computer still mostly apply today though.

2079 (0, Offtopic)

Liveandletlive (841246) | about 9 years ago | (#13098374)

I was just wondering how life would be in 2079 when 1 billion people from India all have computers

Chindren's book (4, Interesting)

brunes69 (86786) | about 9 years ago | (#13098378)

The funny (sad?) part is that this "children's book" is more advanced in many ways than some of my CS intro classes were 7 years ago (and some people still failed out!)

People getting dumber? Nah.. can't be!

Slashdot Book. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13098379)

Can we get a book on how Slashdot works? because I have no fscking clue. Damn dupes.

Re:Slashdot Book. (2, Informative)

Spy der Mann (805235) | about 9 years ago | (#13098425)

Can we get a book on how Slashdot works? because I have no fscking clue.

Sure! http://sourceforge.net/projects/slashcode/ [sourceforge.net]
It's not a book, but what the heck.

Re:Slashdot Book. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13098600)

A better source for what you want is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slashdot [wikipedia.org]

The rate of progress (1)

91degrees (207121) | about 9 years ago | (#13098392)

It's nice to look at the changes between 1971 and 1979. Clearly there were a lot of aspects of the book that looked ancient after 8 years of progress. Punch cards had been replaced by VDUs. Presumably magnetic drums were no longer used for storage by 1979, and would have been seen as outdated as a 5.25 inch floppy disk.

Makes me feel progress has slowed. The difference between a modern PC and one from 8 years ago is simply speed and storage.

Re:The rate of progress (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 9 years ago | (#13098460)

Punch cards had been replaced by VDUs. Presumably magnetic drums were no longer used for storage by 1979, and would have been seen as outdated as a 5.25 inch floppy disk.

Wrong. We used punch cards at most medium sized colleges and universities for data entry until at least 1985. And 5.25 floppy disks were common until about that time - think the 3.5 floppy didn't gain ground until the military bought them in bulk for our laptops [which cost more than a house]. Those laptops were very very heavy.

The difference nowadays is the speed of the internet and the wireless connection. The rest is pretty meaningless.

Re:The rate of progress (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13098537)

The difference nowadays is the speed of the internet and the wireless connection. The rest is pretty meaningless.

Man, every time you open your mouth your IQ drops a couple of points, doesn't it? Yeah, the increase in speed and storage over the last 8 years is "pretty meaningless."

Re:The rate of progress (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | about 9 years ago | (#13098548)

Oh, I don't know. The last 8 years isn't too bad.

Burning CDs to burning DVDs for storage; Blu-ray if you're cutting edge.

Solid state memory (flash cards) going from esoteric to cheaper than bubble-gum.

The internet, or more specifically, broadband (vs dialup).

Floppies were still commonplace in 1997, yet many computers now don't even come with a floppy drive.

Did they have beowolf clusters back then? (sorry, couldn't resist)

Re:The rate of progress (1)

WhyCause (179039) | about 9 years ago | (#13098607)

AND 8 years ago, drooling over Natalie Portman was icky!

Re:The rate of progress (1)

corngrower (738661) | about 9 years ago | (#13098587)

Not quite. There are these USB ports on the 'puter nowdays. Also there's a difference in how the CPU's work, with all their branch prediction logic. The graphics cards these days are much faster as well. And, the old 3 1/2" diskette is almost history, replaced by the USB flash devices and CD-RW or DVD-RW.

The appearance of the box hasn't changed all that much. And the devices that we use to interact with the computer have changed basically very little.

Changes happen, they just aren't as obvious. I expect to see a lot of smaller form factor desktop PC's coming out in the next several years.

The Starfleet History (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13098397)

This reminds me of a book my mom bought me maybe 10 years ago: 20th Century Computers and How They Worked: The Official Starfleet History of Computers [amazon.com] .

It was a very interesting way to learn about technology at my age (what was I, like 12?) especially as a Trekkie, since the author compares "old" 20th-Century technology to "Current" Starfleet technology. It was very well done, I recommend picking up a copy (no, there are no affiliate links in there).

Yes, real progress ... (1)

foobsr (693224) | about 9 years ago | (#13098400)

... and the ultimate advancement came when the mouse was introduced, forcing right handed people to use their more developed instrument (fitted to perform complex movements like writing) to press buttons. Sic(k)!

CC.

That's when I bought my first Apple II+ (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 9 years ago | (#13098431)

think it was January 1980.

Had to get a loan to buy it from HFC ...

Before had built S-100 bus computers, which we soldered the boards for ourselves, and we liked it.

I made a hacker's version of my Apple II+, taking the base 64K and expanding it to 172K with a slot RAM board, and dual floppies I hand-adjusted the speed on - using an oscilloscope, the only way to fly, after running thru the numbers on my slide rule. I had the cool triangle core slide rule.

Made a boot disk with the BASIC programs I wrote, and some assembler ones, which I loaded into my RAM disk so they would run 1000 times faster than if I loaded them from disk, and used the second drive for the read/write disk for file input/output.

My Apple screamed - made all the Commodore and Tandy's that came to the neighborhood look sick - even after I rewrote their programs to run faster and not have bugs.

And I commented my code back then, which was heresy, but really helped a lot. Everyone else relied on cryptic variable names, but I knew how they were stored, so I could get away with murder.

Ah, the bad old days. We cheered when 300 baud came out, cause everyone was using 110 baud [that's 0.3K modem speed, and I'm using Gigabit Internet here at the UW right now, and get 33Mbps with my laptop at home].

Re:That's when I bought my first Apple II+ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13098572)

and yet... you still haven't gotten laid yet, right?

So what's changed? (1)

gvc (167165) | about 9 years ago | (#13098445)

The book describes magnetic core which was pretty well obsolete in 1971. It describes CPU, disk, and tape that have become smaller and faster, but that's about it. The monumental developments in programming languages - object-oriented, functional programming, concurrent programming - were in the past. Ditto for file systems, data structures, and operating systems.

If you learned computer architecture back then, you wouldn't have much difficulty with today. Not like the man-frozen-in-the-glacier movie scenario at all.

The development that wasn't even a gleam in the eye of computer scientists of the day is networking.

Re:So what's changed? (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | about 9 years ago | (#13098521)

The book describes magnetic core which was pretty well obsolete in 1971.

And ironically, magnetic memory comes back [nanotech-now.com] with nanotech. What's even more ironic, is that hard disks, which haven't changed much, WILL become obsolete in the future.

Re:So what's changed? (1)

RollTissue (896833) | about 9 years ago | (#13098581)

If you learned computer architecture back then, you wouldn't have much difficulty with today.

Agreed! But still...

FTA: As many as thirty components can now be fitted into a capsule approximately one-third of a cubic centimetre in volume...

I would imagine you could fit the entire room (page 2) of machines hardware and processing power inside a laptop or even a PDA.

Sad (4, Interesting)

Random BedHead Ed (602081) | about 9 years ago | (#13098453)

I just looked up this article because I recognized it as a dupe, and found that it goes back to November of 2004 [slashdot.org] . There were only 20ish comments about the article, so I thought I'd be the first person who noticed. I was wrong. At least five people had already posted their dupe spottings, and the number is probably rising.

So I thought, what are the odds of my recognizing a dupe from eight months ago? Or of anyone else recognizing it? And then I realized - they're pretty high. I just discovered that I don't tend to miss Slashdot stories, ever, because if I'm away from the site for an extended period I usually scan backwards and browse the recent days, at least to get the basic ideas of the articles if not to go in-depth. In short, I've missed nothing here. Not in a long time. And I'm starting to wonder what that says about my life.

How long do we spend on this site? How much of our lives is lost to this pursuit? What would happen if I didn't come to this site tomorrow, and on Wednesday I ignore the Yesterday articles? Am I capable of this? A Tuesday without Slashdot? Would I suffer from any withdrawal symptoms? Because I'm scared, but I think it's important enough to try.

Re:Sad (1)

networkBoy (774728) | about 9 years ago | (#13098648)

dude, call a shrink.
I think it may actually be needed in this case :)
-nB

doomed-to-repeat-ourselves (1)

justplainchips (589349) | about 9 years ago | (#13098463)

Dupe, dupe, dupe. We all know, but I find it interesting the Taco predicted this dupe [slashdot.org] by the dept. he put the story in.

Slashdot reading skills are still abysmal. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13098466)

State-of-the-art in 1971 consisted of fitting thirty components into a 1 cm3 volume.

Whereas the article says, "As many as thirty components can now be fitted into a capsule approximately one-third of a cubic centimetre in volume."

i.e., "1/3 cm3" not "1"

But, but, (2, Funny)

Hawthorne01 (575586) | about 9 years ago | (#13098492)

There's no mention of Windows(tm) anywhere! How do computers work without Windows?

Re:But, but, (3, Funny)

Linker3000 (626634) | about 9 years ago | (#13098657)

How do computers work without Windows?

Better.

How Rockets Work (2, Insightful)

lotho brandybuck (720697) | about 9 years ago | (#13098494)

Now all we need to do is get the book, "How Rockets Work" and give it to NASA.. I want to get back to the moon! Seriously, I wonder what it would take to rebuild the Saturn 5 program and send the rest of the ISS up in one or two big shots, instead of 20 little shuttle trips. Could we build a 60's era rocket in less time and with less risk than launching 20 space shuttles?

Damn... 1971... (1)

proxy2 (156777) | about 9 years ago | (#13098505)

Nowadays it's hard to imagine that all operators [brinkster.net] are girls :)

Dupe or not... (1)

Cylix (55374) | about 9 years ago | (#13098520)

Might as well add my 2 cents...

This book looks completely stupid... I have no idea who the intended audience was at the time, but I don't know if it was normal people.

Anyhow, I have manuals from 1977 for equipment I use today. (Actually the equipment was built in 77 and I think it was around a bit before then).

It's nothing quite like that, but pretty standard stuff for the industry. Things like how it works, diagnostics, troubleshootings, maintenance and EVERY SCHEMATIC you would need to fix it. (which is every schematic in the unit).

Pretty flippin handy... I just wish they made all books like transmitter docs.

Computer legitimacy and toys (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13098523)

I don't think I ever read this book (born in 1970), but flipping through the pages, it makes me realize what computers still mean to my folks; batch cards, mag tapes, green-n-white printouts.

Therein lies the rub; to my folks, any computer that can be fit in a single box and doesn't live in a raised-floor room, is a toy. It's actually very black and white for them..."yes it's all very nice what those toys can do for the movies, but it takes a *computer* to process GE's payroll."

It also reminds me of when a friend of mine brought his dad in to work to show him what he did. His dad was a serious old school programmer for custom chips for Navy jets. He looked it too...checkered shirt, crew cut, pocket protector (first time I'd ever seen one). My friend shows him the *cough* Powerbuilder app we'd be working on, with its buttons and datawindows, etc., and his dad just went *pft* and waved his hand.

The fact that I can run emulators of any of those systems and they run 10x faster has never made a dent in my folks opinion. As far as they can see, and as far as my friend's dad can see, we're just playing with toys.

Anyone else had that happen?

Re:Computer legitimacy and toys (1)

s000t (894190) | about 9 years ago | (#13098566)

I didn't know they had Computers for Dummies in the 70s. Maybe we haven't come so far after all.

One Square Centimeter? (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | about 9 years ago | (#13098545)

Luxury! Back in my day, we had to wear roller skates to get around our computer. [vintage.org]

But you try and tell the young people today that... and they won't believe you...

DUPE DUPE DUPE (1)

Anonym1ty (534715) | about 9 years ago | (#13098564)

This is so dupe... I read these whole books on-line over a year ago from a link on /.

Time-Life 1989 Understanding Computers (1)

JoshuaDFranklin (147726) | about 9 years ago | (#13098571)

If you like that, you might also enjoy the 1989 Time-Life Understanding Computers series. They actually have very good explanations and in-depth essays about the state of computers at that time. You can pick them up cheap on eBay.

The sad thing (1)

DarthVeda (569302) | about 9 years ago | (#13098573)

The sad thing is I do believe I read this as a textbook in gradeschool...

...in 1994!

This document is what is wrong with information... (1)

dynemo (650078) | about 9 years ago | (#13098576)

...technology. No wonder we have so many worms, viri and other malware proliferating on our networks. For some reason, this person RECOMMENDS NOT installing service packs and enabling the event viewer. Next thing you know, he will want my IP address just to download the document ;)

ID10T error... (1)

dynemo (650078) | about 9 years ago | (#13098622)

...by me. I replied to the wrong post.

Left Behind (1)

poind3xt3r (890661) | about 9 years ago | (#13098593)

I must be out of the loop because my computer resembles nothing like this. Probably are high end government main frames.

Wow! I had that book as a kid. (3, Interesting)

exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) | about 9 years ago | (#13098596)

It's amazing how some of those images are burnt into my brain. But that was a fine book. It's audience was young kids (all Ladybird books where) and yet it discusses binary and CPU architecture. Of course the people who wrote that book were probably old men who were unaware of the revolution taking place around them. In bookshops we had old serious looking books full of Fortran and pictures of magnetic core memory and yet we we were already using machines with solid state RAM at home. It was as if serious computer professionals were in denial that those 'toys' were ever going to amount to anything.

Babbage cards in kilt weaving (1)

Jim Hall (2985) | about 9 years ago | (#13098599)

Page 6 in the book talks about the Babbage punch card. This is off-topic from the OP, but Babbage punch cards were/are also used in other applications that just analytical machines. They are still used in weaving factories, for example.

I own a kilt, and when I visited the weaver that made the kilt (Geoffrey(Tailor) [geoffreykilts.co.uk] in Edinburgh) they showed off their kilt weaving machine. It uses Babbage punch cards to control the action- load this color, weave, return, load other color, weave, return, ...

(Well, I thought it was interesting.)

Interesting... (1)

Famanoran (568910) | about 9 years ago | (#13098619)

I remember having a copy of both of those books... I probably still do...

Pretty good reads, even though they were outdated when I was a kid...

Here's hoping... (1)

darkest_light (663084) | about 9 years ago | (#13098625)

Now if I can only get that assigned as my Computer Architecture textbook next semester, I'm set...

Seriously, I was most impressed that while the details have changed, so much of the information in the book is still very valid today. The explanation of registries, addresses, arithmetic, etc. is actually quite good. It's very impressive for a children's book.

Awesome, but.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13098632)

this is still how Linux users think the world should be [brinkster.net]

Seriously that mindset still plaguing Linux and will continue to do so. X Windows to blame.

see this too. This is the cutting edge in Linux circles and something to aspire too that X Windows is still all about. [brinkster.net]

more later

Yay! (1)

lennier (44736) | about 9 years ago | (#13098645)

I grew up reading this book - both editions of it.

Man was I confused when the 80s hit and I first started playing with micros (Commodore PET and BBC Micro). Where were the core memory and the disk packs? But I had 8K of RAM all to myself. Woohoo!

Now my Palm Tungsten has a postage-sized removable plastic chip with half gig of flash RAM containing the entire English Wikipedia.

I don't miss those days, actually.

ah memories (1)

raist21 (68156) | about 9 years ago | (#13098646)

I remember these well. My grandparents got me a set of them along with an old Apple IIe. And so began my lifelong treck into geekdom. These books were great. They basically told you how things worked from how ice was created to how electricity worked using a lightbulb, some old wire, a piece of wood and some aluminum foil. It's sad there aren't any books like this out for young kids anymore. "Or are there?"

This book was used for military training in the UK (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13098661)

I also have a copy of this book - and it's very different from the usual Ladybird offerings. It actually provides a good grounding in basic computer design, and is appropriate for 18 year olds, while most Ladybird books were aimed more at 10 year olds.

I got a copy when I started working for MOD in the 80s - for a while it was the standard introductory training book for MOD staff starting on computers!

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...