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Search, Mad Men style: A complete IBM 362 Google interface in the browser (masswerk.at)
395 points by brunooo 1323 days ago | hide | past | web | 73 comments | favorite

Thats a proper skeuomorphic interface. I like how it discards the card if you use backspace.

Yes, very well done. I shall use it this week in teaching for the giggle factor. Seems to work perfectly in Opera 12.11 on Ubuntu Linux

It's interesting how a cultural artifact belonging to a museum is better preserved in software. It is unlikely anyone will put the hardware in a museum, let alone getting it operational and allowing someone to play with the exhibit.

Many of the better museum exhibits tend to tie in things to people's daily life in the present. I searched an anachronistic term, "game of thrones."

The Computer History Museum in Mountain View spent 2 years fully restoring a DEC PDP-1. You can go see it - I don't even think you need to pay for admission to the museum.

During the presentation, they load Spacewar! from paper tape, and two members of the audience can battle it out.

It's pretty amazing to play one of the first graphical computer games ever, on a computer first released 50 years ago.


There's actually an PDP-1 easter egg in this one, just search for space and it takes you to a HTML5 version of the original screen / vector graphics.

For everyone else reading this, if you live in the bay area, you should seriously visit the Computer History Museum. It's absolutely fascinating to see how far we've come in such a short time. I had assumed I wouldn't get much value from the trip, but I was blown away.

I saw that presentation last week. What I found even more awesome than the presentation itself was that the presenters were Peter Samson and Steve Russell, the two MIT hackers who had written the software originally.

Steve Russell, as in "I actually made Lisp a programming language rather than just a mathematical notation" Steve Russell?

Also, I absolutely love this demo. It's really a work of art.

It really puts to shame my humble plan to finish my Osborne 1 emulator and put it on the web.

Yes, that would be the guy, although in the context of the PDP-1, he was only talking about Spacewar.

Samson was demonstrating four part audio synthesis of Bach organ pieces. It turns out that during the restoration project, they came across some of his original data tapes encoding the music, but the software was long lost, so he recreated his hack 50 years later, with the additional constraint that he had to reconstruct his data format and remain compatible with it!

Speaking of Steve Russell: Meanwhile I've received a quite flattering mail from S.R. on the authenticity of the feel of the version of "Spacewar!" associated to the page. http://www.masswerk.at/spacewar

Wow! Is that online?

Golly, that brings back memories [played Spacewar fairly often back in the '70s, albeit on PDP-15 clones].

If you live in the UK, the Nation Museum of Computing in Bletchley Park (of Alan Turing fame) is also totally amazing.


How nostalgic for me, reminds me of my days as a junior Data General field engineer - Nova 3, Eclipse S/130, S/140, S/200'S + Phoenix and Gemini 10+10 and 5+5 toploaders.

Admittedly this was their Dasher D200 (current loop) and LP2 era, but we did sometimes bootstrap DTOS (Diagnostic Tape Operating System) from paper tape if all else failed. We even had a couple of ancient punched card readers in stock for certain oddball customers, just in case.

I used to have a rig that looked like this in my parents dining room:


They made me send it back after a couple of quarters of abnormal electricity bills.

What i love most about it is that's so annoyingly slow that it actually lets you feel how computing must have been back then.

Yes, indeed. Two observations from my short time at the console.

1. I can distinctly feel the presence of the machine and a dialogue that's going on. Unlike largely transparent computer personality of the everyday use today.

2. Absence of internet distraction coupled with machine-centric environment probably resulted in a more productive developer time. That's not counting hours spent in ardent Spacewar! battles :)

Regarding 2, remember that you're looking at a turnaround time of hours to try running your program, unless you were in a special situation. Anytime punch cards are involved, response time goes from seconds to minutes or hours.

"Development" would be sitting down, writing your program on sheets of paper (marked out to 80 columns so you know how many characters you get). Then either you'd key it yourself, or you'd send it off to be keyed onto cards. I'm not really familiar with the 390, but that's typically how things would work on a punched-card (i.e. batch) system.

We had the fugly IBM terminals by the time I went to the university. Long lines waiting to key in your assignments, then even longer time awaiting the printouts.

Found a nice loophole that I could exploit. Modem users got higher priority on jobs. Plus the TRS-80 Model4P I owned was capable of terminal emulation and other nice tricks to speed up Fortran and JCL assignments. So I sat in the comfort of the dorm room and used the time I saved on EE assignments.

I wrote a VT-100 emulator for my Atari ST so I could do the same thing with the school's Data General Eclipse MV-8000.

Much nicer being able to complete assignments within walking distance of the refrigerator. :)

Ah, yes. I'm aware of that. I actually read this rather famous book on the subject, "Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution" by Steven Levy. I thoroughly enjoyed it. All the stories, machines, code and people. If anyone wants to get the feel of those times I highly recommend it.

The "reel to reel" was still faster than the old cassette player I had hooked up to my old TRS-80.

That was my first computer, with that awful beige Radioshack shoebox cassette player. Oh, the fun days playing Artilery for hours and hours :o)

CLOAD..... And you had to try it at least 3 times.

And of course you would first have to walk and find that reel about thousands of others and then load it.

Yeah, like a good museum exhibit.

I was expecting this: http://cl.ly/image/2g1Z3K143X34

Quota exceeded :)

It should be implemented in Javascript to run the searches from users' browsers instead of a central point.

That's what it does – there is no central access point. But Google is checking the quota by the referrer.

Image and News search should still work.

I've never watched "Mad Men" but this Google simulation was so entertaining that I might just pop on the Netflix instant streaming this weekend.

The first "image" result for "Mad Men":

    |                                                                          |
    |                            ***************                               |
    |                         ****           * *****                           |
    |                       ***                    ****                        |
    |                       *                    *   **                        |
    |                     **               ********    *                       |
    |                     *         *   ****           **                      |
    |                     *           ***         ***   *                      |
    |                     **        **              *   *                      |
    |                      *      *                 *   *                      |
    |                      *                        *   *                      |
    |                              *****   ******   *   *                      |
    |                    * *           **                *                     |
    |                 ****           ****           *    *                     |
    |                 *************  *  *     *     ** **                      |
    |                   ***           * * *** *   * *                          |
    |                          ***              * **  *                        |
    |                         ** ******           ** *                         |
    |                   *******   *********     ****     ********              |
    |             ****                      **                   ***           |

Makes you realize in 1000 years there will be museums where people will go to see the early ipad and android devices and wonder how anyone got anything done with them, and stare at 3.5" and 2.5" hard drives with their ridiculously tiny 1TB capacities. Hmm, maybe even in just 100 years.

  s/museums where people will go/engrams that posthumans will load/

In 100 years people will be in zoos / wildlife refuges.

Unless a better word than "wildlife refuge" is discovered to specifically denote human living areas. In which case people will be in towns.


I work on the System 390 every day, this is surprisingly accurate.

Brilliant, of course the LP01 didn't have both upper and lower case :-) But whose counting.

And it's condensed too – I know. But it has to have lower case in order to display URLs. And it provides legibility for the news reader mode: http://www.masswerk.at/google60?mode=news

Just having the most fun playing a round of "thermonuclear war" (well, actually, it's mostly playing itself), better than any (AAA) title I have been playing lately. This one is going to take forever. And I am glad that we moved from printed output to graphical displays, the amount of forests we would have had to cut down...


  SIMULATION ENDED. WINNER: NONE.                                               SIMULATION TIME: 02'00
                                 @@@@   @@@                                                         
                        @ @ @ @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@             @      %           @                      
          @@@        @   @ @@@@@  @@@@@@@@@@      @@@              %%%%%   %   %%%%%%%%%%%%%%       
       @@@@@@@@@@@@  @@@ @@@@@@    @@@@@@@@@                @     %%%%%%%%%%%@@%%%%%%%%%%%%%        
      @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@ @@@@   @@@@@@@@                    %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%        
      @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@  @@@  @@@@@@          @@@@@@ %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%% %%         
  @ @       %%%%%%%%%%%%    %%     @@@     @      @@@@%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%    %%         
             %%%%%%%%%%%%   %%%%              @  @@@  %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%@             
             %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%@             @@ @@@@@%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%              
             %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%                @@@@@@@%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%   @           
             %%%%%%%%%%%%%%                   @@    @@%%%%%%%@ @@@@@@%%%%%%%@@@@@@  @  @@           
               %%%%%%%%%%                     @@@@@@  @   @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@                 
                 %%%     %                  @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@ @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@                 
                  %%%%%                    @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@     @@@   @@@@                    
                       @@ @@@@              @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@        @     @ @    @               
                         @@@@@@@@@                 @@@@@@@@@@                @@  @@ @ @             
                        @@@@@@@@@@@@@@              @@@@@@@@                   @@  @     @@@        
                          @@@@@@@@@@@              @@@@@@@@@  @                      @@@@ @         
                           @@@@@@@@@                @@@@@@   @                    @@@@@@@@@@        
                           @@@@@@@                   @@@@                        @@@@@@@@@@@@       
                           @@@@@                      @@                         @@@  @@@@@         
                           @@@                                                           @        @ 
                            @@  @                                                                @
I almost believed it would take the full 48 hours...

"List Games" -> Select #4. -> slow smile. :-)

I might have obliterated the world (not totally sure, the print out is still going).

When I opened this, I happened to play Tron Legacy OST in the background. Made the effect 100x. DAMN.

Try playing this the background: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JLZGbJ5QE8M

I thoroughly believe that doing just about anything with radiantx's Space Beacon in the background makes you feel like a l33t h4x0r.[0]

[0]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFGFKL20kqA

Awesome. I remember doing things this way. With a 200 baud modem.

Having to throw a card away because of a typo was somewhat inhibiting.

Quite a contrast to discovering WordPerfect and realizing you can make all kinds of mistakes without such waste.

I once had demigod access to Southampton University Computer Centre. The ops staff used to rip erroneous job cards in half and put them back in the deck for repunching. Clueless or lazy students sometimes repaired them with sellotape and resubmitted. The resulting bang as the card hit a high speed reader could be heard across the whole room and would take out the card reader for about 15 minutes while glue was cleaned off the innards.

This time that user's whole job would be returned, guillotined in half and tipped into a manilla envelope, with a suggestion that next time they repunch error cards. Savvy users realised that you could repunch the correct code and use chad to fill in unwanted holes. Stacked in a deck these could last a surprisingly long time. (Yes, I'm that old.)

What used 200 baud? I remember 110, 300, and then 1200 was the next progression. I don't ever recall even hearing about a 200 baud modem.

Yeah, it was probably 300. 17 was a long time ago.

Some googling seems to indicate the V.21 modem could run at 200 or 300. But I have no idea.

I never heard of anything below 300, but I was born in '75 ;-) I never saw a BBS that accepted anything below 300.

Still faster than my city's library search.

Is this using the Web Search API? Or is there a non-deprecated replacement?

Given the error message I received I think yes to the first :)

RECEIVED MESSAGE "Quota Exceeded. Please see http://code.google.com/apis/websearch.

HUMAN READABLE: "Mountainview, we have a problem."

ADVICE: A quota error indicates a temporary overload due to high demand. Please retry later.

btw. for those who enjoy ASCII & dialup-sound check http://www.masswerk.at/googleBBS/

I worked with cards in the 70's. It was possible to insert & delete columns when copying, by pressing down on the source or target card respectively, while duplicating.

We invented the "240-column" card to increase data storage (three 4-bit digits per column). Our cards looked like lace doilies. ('7' = 0111)

A real programmer measures his worth by how much he can accomplish, with what little he has. (Cue the penis jokes).

CHANNEL ERROR (VERBOUS) RECEIVED MESSAGE "Quota Exceeded. Please see http://code.google.com/apis/websearch. HUMAN READABLE: "Mountain View, we have a problem." ADVICE: A quota error indicates a temporary overload due to high demand. Please retry later.

Sadface :(

Great experience though, props to those who made it!

It's completely appropriate for an art piece about the limitations of the 1960's mainframe era to end with a demonstration of how little we have actually progressed.


Watching the tape animation makes me think that these guys have never actually seen a magnetic tape unit before. At several points, their animation shows the reels spinning in opposite directions. An actual tape would snap if you could somehow get the reels to do that.

Having only a limited amount of RAM accessible, you simply had to rewind the tape drive in order to process data. (E.g., for the UNIVAC I, the first computer to rely on tape drives, there were the commands 1nm, 3nm to read/write forward and 2nm and 4nm to read/write backward. That's also what the seek-command in any file-API is for.) The vacuum columns provided the extra amount of tape to control the tension and keep the tape from snapping. In the animation, the exaggerated action of the tension rollers stands for this functionality of the vacuum columns, which can't be shown in the limited screen estate.

(In the ambient audio there's a "floop" like sound, probably produced by the vacuum columns on occasion of a reversal of the direction.)

My memory is that they did occasionally reverse, with the vacuum column buffering the tape to avoid too much tension. It was 30 years ago though, so don't quote me.

This seems to indicate back-spacing, although it doesn't mention the transition time between directions. http://www-03.ibm.com/ibm/history/exhibits/701/701_1415bx27....

Finally an inside view of a Google DC that I can relate to!

Super stuff! I keep waiting for a red line to appear in the edge to warn me to change the paper box...

So many little details like the occasionally uneven font. A lot of work went into this.

At least you get the response faster than if you were on a 2400 Baud Modem...

Now on the front page on The Verge


I searched "images" for a generic term and it listed 25,270,000,000 results and started to print out each one in ascii, I'm going to be here a while.

Good on the authors spacewar demo for doing the graphics right. But it's still missing that charming green phosphorous glow.

The productivity increase is amazing !

Google API quota exceeded (for now). Awesome job though, it's really well done. Fun.

I would have preferred the Model 28 Keypunch if only because it was my first one :)

This would actually been even cooler to hook into DuckDuckGo's zero click interface. The machine would be able to respond with actual information for lots of queries.

Mathematics calculations, topic summaries, definitions, etc.


there's something odd about the way the tension rollers move, but i can't work out what. the way it's shown seems logical, but it looks wrong. anyone know what's up?

Lace card attempt failed

Here you are: http://www.masswerk.at/google60/?q=*lace

Wow ! Beautiful !! :-)

Very cool stuff. But it makes me want another computer with a few more kilobytes of ram, a z80 inside, and a k7 tape recorder for permanent storage. :)

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