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Matlab's First Customer (ox.ac.uk)
73 points by gballan 7 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 15 comments

A bit off topic tidbit:

Early Matlab version(s) had an interesting Easter egg. Once when frustrated with the learning on the REPL, I typed "fuck you" and the console spit out "your place or mine?" instead of an error that I was so used to.

Another little easter egg: typing "why" will return a randomly generated answer.

also imagesc with no arguments (used to at least) return an upside down picture of some person. This led to some confusion in our lab at some point.

Yes, it's showing the oldest son of a early matlab's employee.


This Easter egg is responsible for one of the most terrifying evenings of my life.

My first project in grad school was a visual perception experiment, written in Matlab. People were shown images that were either just noise (think static or clouds) or noise + a very faint shape, and asked to report which was which. The goal was to analyze the noise patterns associated with each response to identify how people recognize shapes (e.g., do you need all four corners to recognize a + sign).

I tested the task on myself first. It’s fairly late, maybe 9:30 or 10pm, when I finally get everything running just so. Sitting in our pitch-dark testing room, in the middle of a deserted floor of a medical school, I run the analysis code. I’m expecting to see some simple shapes emerge from the processed noise; I think I used crosses, triangles, and Gabors as targets.

Instead, however, window after window pops up with the creepy, distorted face of that child. I was tired, hungry, and had just seen The Ring, so I did the obvious thing: I slammed the laptop shut and high-tailed it home.

The next morning, my labmate helped me figure out that I had written imagesc somewhere, instead of images, the variable that contained my results.

TL;DR: Typo terrified me.


Just 'spy' used to return one of the "spy vs spy" guys, but now seems to result in a dog.

As far as I know he bought that license for one of his student at the time, Alan Edelman, who then ended up co-creating the Julia language.

Interesting, how did you come across this very specific bit of trivia?

Alan Edelman has done a lot of talks, so if I had to guess, he mentions it somewhere in one of those. But I have no actual clue.

He does mention this.

Because he works for the JuliaLab and Alan mentions this bit of trivia all the time.

He ought to add to that list “finder of mistakes in Feynman lectures”

I really hope that's listed in chronological order, because otherwise he's throwing serious shade at the Royal Society.

Edit: I checked it out- Matlab has been around since 1984, and Prof Trefethen was made FRS in 2005. Safe.

Not necessarily. As a UK professor in numerical analysis, being an FRS is practically a given. I'd be more proud of the MATLAB one if it was me.

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