I remember my grandfather's chagrin when he heard that I wanted to spend money on an IBM PC-XT clone rather than a Panasonic VCR (Video Cassette Recorder) . What IS a computer, anyway?? A foolish, expensive toy, pah! He wasn't entirely wrong, of course :-)
I went nuts authoring an Editor in raw machine code, writing TSRs, and trying to hack the higher levels of Montezuma's revenge's by fiddling with it's machine code for a couple of years.
2. "The price of Christmas past: £599 for a VHS recorder": https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/dec/19/price-c...
I worked with Carl Helmers (original editor, who had a hobbyist micro newsletter already going, dealing with 8008's, etc.) and Dan Fylstra (a friend from high school days in San Diego, later founder of Visicorp, publisher of Visicalc, the first "killer app" in the PC world) at Intermetrics in Cambridge (Fresh Pond), a gov't consulting firm.
Carl and Dan and I went up one summer day to Wayne Green (ham radio magazine publisher)'s place in New Hampshire and hashed out the basics.
I only wrote a couple of articles, helped with editing, and then school hit (I was starting junior year, I think) and I faded out. (Was also working more than full-time at Intermetrics (much more fun than school) while also attending Harvard full-time.)
But it was fun while it lasted...
Dan went on to found Visicorp after MIT and Harvard Business School, Lynn worked with him there to make VisiOn, a much ahead-of-its-time windowing OS for the PC, which eventually brought down VisiCorp, and Henry ended up at Microsoft as Gates's right-hand man for years.
It had interviews with everyone that was "important" back then (Gates & Allen (MS), Mitch Kapor (Lotus), Doug Engelbart (mouse & GUIs), Tony Hoare (quicksort), Brian Kernigham, Donald Knuth, Bob Metcalfe (Ethernet), Philipe Kahn (Borland), Bob Noyce, Dennis Ritchie (C), Bjarne Stroustroup (C++), Wolfram) predicting the future.
None of them predicted the Internet.
BYTE: Let's discuss the subject of portability. Do you think we'll have notebook computers or pocket computers? How do you think the size will evolve?
Gordon Bell: The computer will disappear by another 10 years in [its present form]. There will be zero-cost notebook-size computers with one chip in them that will have about 32 megabytes. So people will be carrying around these sort of minicellular, really connected, computers that go into their own databases somewhere.
Doug Engelbart: Everyone’s going to have a computer-carried around, or surgically implanted, or sitting on your hat or your spectacles or what-and they’re all going to be connected into networks just totally, [and] those networks will be wireless.
BYTE: This sounds more like a portable office than a portable computer. Do you really think cellular phones and faxes will enter the notebook arena?
Bill Gates: That's a little radical. I don't think it's necessary. If you can connect up every few hours, that's good enough. The machine in the office will just have this optic fiber that will go off to the world net work out there. It will directly connect to some kind of server and will have a lot of storage.
Fortunately for Microsoft, he eventually did get it, though only just in time -- not long after the book hit the shelves.
If continuous connectivity was unavailable, I could imagine an somewhat different ecosystem developing. We could still have sexy phone/PDA devices, but with software optimized around caching and making use of a transient connection.
For example, "feed" based apps like HN/Reddit/any typical news sources tend to pull the latest feed when you open the app, then load individual articles on request. In a limited-connectivity world, you'd see the app sitting in the background, waiting for Wi-Fi or a sync cable or however it was hooked in, and then pulling as many articles as it could to a local cache, so you could read them completely without data later.
I'm actually surprised this didn't happen much more in countries where data was spotty or expensive and limited.
Lotus founder Mitch Kapor and several industry colleagues have formed an organization they say will fight to ensure the Bill of Rights covers computer-based communication and electronic information. The purpose of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (California, MA), is to combat violations of civil liberties, Kapor says, as well as educate government policymakers, law enforcement agencies, and the public about computers.
The EFF has taken heat from some members of the industry because they see it as simply a "hacker defense fund," and some law enforcement officials are not necessarily in favor of it. "It's as if NOW started a foundation to come to the assistance of [people charged in] rape cases," says Don Ingraham, chief of the high-tech crime team and an assistant district attorney for Alameda County in northern California. "We don't know what to think of it." He says he doesn't understand why the computer industry would defend people trying to break into their systems.
We were already calling it the internet when I started college in 88 and after all, it ran on TCP/IP(the latter stands for Internet Protocol) which ARPANET adopted in 1983.
I mean the whole social, cultural and economic impact and, yes, the web is a very important part of it.
But there were a few more things in that early era, besides the web (e.g.:ICQ, IRC, Napster).
By anywhere else, do you mean _near you_? In a word, Frys. hahah
OTOH, Steve Ciarcia was like a god to me. The variety and scope of his projects was crazy. I built his BASIC-52 controller board (point to point wiring FTW!) and hung a 2x16 LCD display and SPO256-AL2 speech synthesizer off of it. I marvelled at his "parallel processor" Mandelbrot generator. Every month was one amazing design after another, and I credit him as one of the people that sent me on my path to my EE degree.
Considering how much money Byte made from ads, I suspect Pournelle was incredibly well paid for his efforts - in addition to all that free hardware.
Ciarcia was superb - back when many developers understood the hardware down to component level. So much cool and creative skill, month after month.
On the other hand, Jerry Pournelle was notorious for threatening companies with bad reviews (and carrying out his threats) if they didn't give him free products.
So in that sense, he was a pioneer in the field of Entitlement Blogging.
>The sense of entitlement is just too strong in the blogging community and the nastiness, hissy fits and general hate displayed after one of your members was not granted her request for a freebie is giving your whole industry a bad name. I never thought we would be inundated with negative reviews for the simple reason that somebody was required to pay for goods received or services rendered.
Not only did he feel entitled to free (as in LOTS OF beer) hardware and software, but also to free ARPANET access, which he bragged about in Chaos Manor.
And then he would make incoherent drunken accusations and threats in public to his benevolent benefactors at MIT, who finally got sick of him and flushed him.
"How Jerry Pournelle got kicked off the ARPANET": http://www.stormtiger.org/bob/humor/pournell/story.html
He was so far ahead of his time, he would be working for the Trump administration if he were younger. They would have loved his enthusiasm for social darwinism. "Think of it as evolution in action." -POURNE
"So what do I do? I agree with nearly everything he is for, but I’m better qualified to make it happen. I avoid some issues, but I go for his most popular ones and say, yeah! Want that! And I can make it happen better than he can. I’ve got the experience of working in government, but I’m not the establishment any more than Mr. Trump is. Heck, I’ll offer him a cabinet post. I could use his energy in my administration." -POURNE
"But he has never wavered on his desire to fill the Supreme Court with Justices as near in scholarship and view to Scalia as possible; that alone would be enough to get me to the polls for Trump if he’s nominated." -POURNE
"One thing that is known about ARPA: you can be heaved off it for supporting the policies of the Department of Defense. Of course that was intended to anger me. If you have an ARPA account, please tell CSTACY that he was successful; now let us see if my Pentagon friends can upset him. Or perhaps some reporter friends. Or both., Or even the House Armed Services Committee." -POURNE
The real reason POURNE was so unpopular with the people running the MIT-AI Lab during the 1980's had to do with the fact that he was a belligerent alcoholic who acted entitled to the free computer services and expert advice that he was taking for granted and criticizing, rather than his politics.
In spite of the fact that many of those people who he accused of being "communists" went far out of their way to spend their precious time patiently answering his questions, tutoring and helping him (RMS even personally wrote some free software for him at his request -- how communist is that??!):
>"I first met Richard Stallman (he called himself RMS in those days) when he was a graduate student at MIT and I was just learning about the ARPANET. He was immensely helpful to me in those days, patiently showing me things about emacs — his full-screen editor that he wrote in TECO, and the less said about TECO the better — as well as adding some special code to take care of things I wanted to accomplish. I learned then that RMS and I have a common failing: We don't suffer fools gladly or indeed at all, and we are sometimes wrong about who is a fool. But that's another story for another time."
But POURNE certainly threatened to use his political connections as a weapon against them. POURNE is the one who made his own politics an issue, who told John McCarthy (the computer scientist, not Joseph the commie witch hunter) that he thought MIT was run by a bunch of communists, and who posted ranting threats on BIX.
Just read the sputtering mis-punctuated threatening screed he posted to BIX, and decide for yourself if you think he was drunk, or if he just acted that way all the time purely because of his political beliefs:
One thing that is known about ARPA: you can be heaved off it
for supporting the policies of the Department of Defense.
Of course that was intended to anger me. If you have an
ARPA account, please tell CSTACY that he was successful;
now let us see if my Pentagon friends can upset him. Or
perhaps some reporter friends. Or both., Or even
the House Armed Services Committee.
I don't remember if the official MIT AI Lab Tourist Policy was written down at the time POURNE was flushed, of if he agreed to it and signed it like the rest of us tourists did, but it's pretty clear he violated it many times over: with his anti-social behavior and bad attitude; by taking took advantage of the MIT AI Lab for his profit making enterprise BYTE Magazine; by promoting his books on SF-LOVERS; by never hesitating to espouse his political beliefs; and by threaten to exploit his political connections for revenge. So flushing him was completely justified, regardless of his politics.
>"A tourist sponsored by a laboratory member would generally receive some guidance and tutelage concerning acceptable behavior, proper design techniques for hardware and software, proper programming techniques, etc. The expectation on the laboratories' part was that a large percentage would become educated in the use of the advanced computing techniques developed and used in our laboratories and thereby greatly facilitate the technology transfer process. A second expectation was that some percentage would become interested and expert enough to contribute significantly to our research efforts."
>"13. Any use of the MIT ITS machines for personal gain, profit making enterprise, or political purposes is not a legitimate use of the Laboratories' computer resources."
>"14. These specific statements of policy give a minimum of how a tourist ought to behave to be a responsible user on the MIT ITS system. They are not a complete list of all the ways tourists should or should not behave. Just because some particular anti-social behavior is not listed does not mean that it is acceptable. What a tourist should do is cultivate a good attitude: make a positive effort to anticipate and avoid actions that would interfere with other users. If you cannot tell whether a certain course of action can interfere with any one, find out from someone else before trying it."
"The man has learned nothing from his presence on MC and sets a bad example of what people might potentially accomplish there. I'd rather recycle his account for some bright 12-yr-old...)" -KMP
When KMP said that, he could have been referring to good tourists like Rob Griffith:
"I believe on one trip we were touring the MIT Artificial Intelligence Lab, and we saw some people gathered around this terminal. And we inquired what they were doing, and out of that came this game Zork, and my friend, since he was at MIT, had us get an account, and we were able to log in and figure out what to me looked like an extremely arcane set of commands to actually get this game running. From then on we were pretty much hooked from the first time we actually saw it. I believe we saw it when we were walking through the MIT AI Lab. I was a guest. Even back then there was some pretty amazing stuff in there. To see all these students and professors huddled around this terminal. What are the doing? They had all these incredibly cool Lisp Machines with big gorgeous displays, and a bunch of people were huddled around a machine that's got text. And we were sort of intrigued. I believe that was the first time I actually saw the game, so to speak. You know, I never got names, so I don't know. I was a petrified little 15-year-old kid walking around the MIT lab, so it was a bit of a feeling of "Am I supposed to be here?", and if I am supposed to be here, I'm pretty sure I'm not supposed to talk, so perhaps I'll just be quiet and observe."
My favourite project was the video camera he made from a 64kb DRAM chip from Micro called the IS32. Rather that the usual opaque cap, it had a transparent quartz lid. Photons accelerated the charge leaking from DRAM cells. So by writing ones, waiting a calculated period, then reading out the new DRAM values, you could get a binary image. Repeat for multiple exposure periods for greyscale.
As a 15 year old, I bought one of these chips, designed my own circuit board, drew the tracks with etch-resistant pen from Tandy Radio Shack, etched it in ferric chloride, hand drilled the holes, and soldered the components. Needless to say, it didn't work. And without access to an oscilloscope, I never managed to figure out the problem.
Part 1: https://archive.org/details/byte-magazine-1983-09
Part 2: https://archive.org/details/byte-magazine-1983-10
Here are PDFs,including circuit diagrams and code listing:
(for those interested in computer nostalgia, the first of those full issues was a special on portable computing. And the second is a mammoth 480 page issue with dozens of articles on all aspects of the Unix operating system).
My first job in computing was as a bench repair engineer for shop-returned Sinclair Spectrums. (Pretty busy time since they had a huge failure rate mainly due to an under-specified transistor in the DC-DC converter).
Since we had plenty of components available, I had a go at doing this by lifting the lid of a ceramic 4164 (might have been a 4116) with a soldering iron and hacking together a bit of stripboard to plug into the expansion bus of a Spectrum.
It worked a treat with a few frames per second refresh rate. (I had to remap the non-sequential ram lines in software to get a sensible image.)
Robert Tinney's covers were amazing:
Both of them used to have really solid programming content for quite a while. BYTE, IIRC, became much commercial and ad-oriented in its later years, with less of quality tech content for makers, and more of product reviews and such, instead.
There were also Ahoy! And Ahoy!'s AmigaUser:
Today for $5200 (sans monitor) you can build one hell of a beast of a Threadripper machine with factory-overclocked GTX1080 Ti, probably 1TB of Samsung NVME M.2 SSD, etc.
Anyway, you can review Kilobaud Magazine on Internet Archive using the URL : https://archive.org/search.php?query=Kilobaud
For a middle school kid to know about Pixar's hardware architecture? That was pretty unique.
They eventually dimmed the lights to indicate that the library was closing in a few minutes, so I figured I'd better quit messing around and copy the article I was originally after. Couldn't find it, so I asked a librarian. "Oh, we had to drop that subscription. Budget cuts, you know," was the response.
Didn't see much point in the whole college thing after that. They had their priorities, and I had mine.
It began to lose it's attraction (for me) when they stopped publishing source code.
I still have a paper copy of Volume 5, number 11. The Huffman encoding article showed a very creative way of recursively writing out the code-tree for static Huffman encoding.
I can't remember which issues they're in, but a couple of other memorable articles include a fast CRC32 calculation which introduced the table-lookup to speed up the process that quickly became the norm.
The other article that I really enjoyed was the Circuit Cellar article where Steve Ciarcia had locked himself out of his house with brownies baking in the oven. He was going to have to break in to his burglar-proof house before the brownies began to burn and his high-tech smoke-detection system would automatically call the fire department. If I remember right, there's a picture of Steve in soldier gear, complete with a bandolier with IC chips where bullets would normally have appeared.
It was a great magazine.
I remember reading that article in an old copy of BYTE that I picked up at a used book shop. The article was really good. It was early in my career and I remember being thinking what a cool algorithm it was, and felt good that I could understand how it worked. IIRC, the author's name was Jonathan Amsterdam.
Googled his name and found this video by a person with that name, may be the same person whom I mentioned above. He worked at Google on cloud client libraries for Go. Queued to watch later.
GopherCon 2017 - Lightning Talk: Jonathan Amsterdam - Errors as Side Notes
Update: I just watched the video, it's very short, and the tool he describes seems useful for understanding new Go code. I won't describe what it does - go watch the video (pun intended).
I'm reading the smalltalk issue and the introductory editorial has a hyphenated word split over a two page ad spread plus a half page ad on the page it finishes on. Which is also opposite a full page ad. (the next two pages are ads)
And at the time, the ads were to some extent also useful information about the industry, in a period where there wasn't much available.
Is Unix Dead?
Soon Unix will face its most powerful adversary to date: Microsoft Windows NT. Will Unix Survive?
This early OS X ad shows how important continuing to serve and develop this market was for Apple:
With Unix-like-oses having some inherent advantages over Windows, and the successful open source model making Linux and BSD free and in constant development, in hindsight the extension of Unix-like-oses to more and more domains seems inevitable.
The only thing standing in the way of a Unix/Linux future really was the potential of microkernel OSes but over many years, these have failed to live up to their hype (GNU began development of HURD before Linux was announced).
I mean, Google using Linux internally and using it for the development of Android seem like more obvious breakout moments to me. But there many such moments says to me that no one of them mattered that much.
"But the euphoria of a faster disk drive and seemingly limitless disk space eventually gives way to the realization that you can fill up even 10 megabytes sooner than you think." 
Especially if you read back issues of byte at ~200mb per PDF :D
Edit: they have archived MacAddict too: https://archive.org/details/macaddict?&sort=date
From page 31: https://vgy.me/YYyBSg.jpg
Also learned Prolog from Byte magazine.
Really miss that mag.
By far the cooler 'hacker's magazine' (as someone put it) was Transactor. Available at the same source! https://archive.org/search.php?query=transactor
Byte was so ... conventionally-oriented. "A friend to all is a friend to none." Scrambled ... or benedict?