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The largest computer ever built (scottlocklin.wordpress.com)
122 points by mef 1761 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 30 comments

> What are the manageable pieces needed to make quantum computing or deriving all electrical power from the sun a reality? I don?t know, and I don?t know of anybody else who does: therefore, such things do not count as legitimate long term projects.

Boy, that wording rubs me the wrong way. This stuff is known as "research". Yes, that makes it highly uncertain. No, that does not make it an illegitimate project.

Yeah, they're legitimate "research" projects, not "engineering" projects. No usable device is expected to be produced and put into service at the end. People funding that research are buying knowledge, not useful systems.

If you're in Bay Area, it (well, some pieces of it) is on display in Computer History Museum - http://www.computerhistory.org/VirtualVisibleStorage/artifac...

Thanks for the link. This is mind-blowing:

The software was written by The Rand Corporation and the System Development Corporation (SDC) and employed about 20% of the world’s programmers at the peak of the project.

This web design is terrible. I expect better from the Computer History Museum.

I tried Chrome, Safari and Firefox on OS X and it looks terrible in all of them.

Really? I went there, was able to clearly see a well written article, not cluttered with anything distracting that gave me the information I needed, allowing me to focus 100% on the content.

He's referring to the Computer History Museum link in the parent, not the SAGE article.

Not sure why you were downvoted -- I agree. The text scrolls off the right side of my browser (maybe b/c I'm not full-screen)? It drives me nuts when sites assume a minimum width of your browser, but this example is especially severe.

"Core Memory" .. that brings back a memory. I worked on an unrelated system while in the USAF that had 512 bytes of core memory. We had a problem where the data was getting corrupted some of the time, particularly on a message indicator byte that disrupted flow control. After a day of oscilloscope work, it turned out that one core in the array had gone bad, and it just happened to be in the "wrong" place.

The system had been designed in the mid 1960's, and this particular core array had been running since 1970 or so, and this was 1985. So 14 or so years of continuous uptime. There's something to be said about building hardware at the macro size, not the micro size. ;)

3-112-0_Theory_Of_Programming_Apr59.pdf is quite interesting.

If long term projects can be made obsolete by their deployment time, then on what basis can long term project actually happen. What ever you do, it's a gamble.

This is why "release early, release often" was invented.

"Our grandfathers knew about fault tolerance"

Just our grandfathers, and not our grandparents as a whole?

Women were involved with programming from a fairly early date (you can find videos by Judith Clapp on youtube describing her involvement). As far as I know, they didn't have anything to do with the fault tolerant systems, or designing the computer itself. Therefore: yes, "grandfathers" is the correct word to use. Both in the English language sense, and in the gender sense in this instance.

I'm sorry you think it is more productive to call out perceived slights to your gender, rather than doing something awesome. I guess it's a lot easier kvetching than, you know, actually doing something.

Given the time period in question, I think it's quite likely that all the people working on this project were men.

Unless your grandmother was Rear Admiral "Amazing" Grace Hopper?

I did consider her, but during the period in question she was working at UNIVAC on compilers.

I was fighting the generalization, not the details.

Well, our grandmothers had to tolerate our grandfathers' faults. That's probably enough to ask.

"Grandfather" also means 'ancestor'.


Your own 'ancestor' link is a referal to the definition of father of parent. It's not gender neutral.

Okay, miss.


It's annoying when you're constantly reminded about how things are messed up, isn't it? It makes you want to leave the situation, right? That's essentially what you're saying.

That's the cat food factory hard at work.

'Fraid that's not so.

Nitpicking over grandfathers in an article that wasn't about gender with regards to an era where it was probably an accurate statement?

Must one distort reality in order to be a good feminist now? This sort of behavior damages the cause and just promotes the stereotype of shrill feminists.

It's embarrassing and I don't want to witness it anymore.

Sexist defence of the patriarchy is far more embarrassing, and I don't want to witness that, either. Virtually all the replies here are moronic.

As the piece is not talking about literal grandfathers, there are plenty of non-gendered terms for ancestors that can be used here, and they should be.

Sexism is subtle, and its wounds come from thousands of tiny cuts. Using "grandfather" seems innocuous to you, but it perpetuates the idea of an all-male environment, with wisdom being passed from father to son.

Sexism is a flaw in our environment. If we can't fix even minor bugs like this without dealing with hoonloads of "works for me!" and "feature not a bug", we will never be able to fix the crashers that result in conferences being derailed.

Its won thing two complain about distortion off reality but another two ask four a record of history that accurately represent's what actually happened.

How much did you have to resist correcting the grammar of that sentence? Are you nitpicking over grammar where it isn't actually important? Do you need to "distort reality" to be a good grammarian now?

What is embarrassing in our world is people shying away from the discussion of unintentionally sexist language. The words we use shape the thoughts we have. The thoughts we have influence the words we use. It's a reinforcement cycle.

Rather than "grandfathers" what about "forebears"? Since we're not talking about parental relationships any father/mother/parent talk is misleading.

Rachel has a valid criticism. Portraying that criticism as "distort[ing] reality in order to be a good feminist" is disingenuous.

Yes, it is annoying when random discussions get derailed by feminists.

And no, it makes me (and probably most others) want them to leave.


That is not even remotely helpful.

And a top-level comment isn't a hijack.

Imagine a beowulf cluster of these...

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