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'[OT] ENIAC'
2016\09\01@024043 by Kevin McGuinness

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www.phillyvoice.com/70-years-ago-six-philly-women-eniac-digital-computer-programmers/
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2016\09\01@045931 by RussellMc

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On 1 September 2016 at 18:40, Kevin McGuinness <spam_OUTkevin.m.mcguinnessTakeThisOuTspamgmail.com
> wrote:


> www.phillyvoice.com/70-years-ago-six-philly-women-
> eniac-digital-computer-programmers/
>

​They obviously did a good and useful job, but it seems likely likely that
they were closer to their original title of "operators" ​than to what we
mean by the term "programmers".
(I may, of course, be wrong).

The article gives significant clues to what the job entailed, but could and
should have said more.
It seems unlikely that they were trained or required to determine what
input / configuration was required to meet a stated requirement.
Setting it up, making it work and keeping it working - yes.



​    Russell​
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2016\09\01@120636 by John Gardner

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Umm - Not exactly...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kathleen_Antonelli

On 9/1/16, RussellMc <.....apptechnzKILLspamspam@spam@gmail.com> wrote:
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2016\09\01@155304 by John Ferrell

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I did not hire into IBM until 1960, but the experienced Operators had
skills and responsibilities that rivalled those of a machinist.

It was not unusual by that time for an operator to do hex arithmetic in
their heads.

In the 50's It was common to not allow programmers in the control points.


On 9/1/2016 4:58 AM, RussellMc wrote:
{Quote hidden}

--
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than with a crowd going the wrong direction.
                  --Diane Grant


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2016\09\01@220329 by RussellMc

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​
> ​They obviously did a good and useful job, but it seems likely likely that
> they were closer to their original title of "operators" ​than to what we
> mean by the term "programmers".
> (I may, of course, be wrong).


On 2 September 2016 at 03:58, John Gardner <.....goflo3KILLspamspam.....gmail.com> wrote:

> Umm - Not exactly...
>
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kathleen_Antonelli
>
>
​Good reference. Looks like they bridged several disciplines.
(I wasn't (of course) questioning what women COULD do, just wondering what
they DID do).
(Many such articles  gloss over various details to make some predetermined
point of view).

They started as "computers" - the then human equivalent of a small portion
of a system. Such positions COULD be almost entirely rote application ​of
techniques with no idea of the total task.

It sounds as though as computers they started from scratch and learned to
use available tools to produce the required results.

Despite all their coursework, their mathematics training had not prepared
Kay (as she came to be called early on at the Moore School) and Fran for
their work calculating trajectories for firing tables: they were both
unfamiliar with numerical integration methods used to compute the
trajectories, and the textbook lent to them to study from (*Numerical
Mathematical Analysis*, 1st Edition by James B. Scarborough, Oxford
University Press, 1930) provided little enlightenment.[6]
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kathleen_Antonelli#cite_note-ieee-6>


​And in due course got to apply their developed skills to ENIAC. ​

​Programming the ENIAC <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ENIAC> involved
discretising the differential equations involved in a trajectory problem to
the precision allowed by the ENIAC <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ENIAC> and
calculating the route to the appropriate bank of electronics in parallel
progression, with each instruction having to reach the correct location in
time to within 1/5,000th of a second. Having devised a program on paper,
the women were allowed into the ENIAC
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ENIAC> room
to physically program the machine.[9]
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kathleen_Antonelli#cite_note-light-9>


I like - 10 seconds run time, 2 day setup.

The computer could complete the same ballistics calculations described
above in about 10 seconds, but it would often take one or two days to set
the computer up for a new set of problems, via plugs and switches. It was
the women's responsibility to determine the sequence of steps required to
complete the calculations for each problem and set up the ENIAC
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ENIAC> according; early on, they consulted
with ENIAC <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ENIAC> engineers such as Arthur
Burks <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Burks> to determine how the
ENIAC <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ENIAC> could be programmed.[9]
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kathleen_Antonelli#cite_note-light-9>


______________________

And, just or Jack (and a few others)

        Using the analyser (invented by Vannevar Bush
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vannevar_Bush> of MIT
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MIT> ...​)

                *THE MAN !!!* <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vannevar_Bush>


Meccano !!!

   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cambridge_differential_analyser.jpg



 Russell
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2016\09\01@225623 by Harold Hallikainen

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> It was not unusual by that time for an operator to do hex arithmetic in
> their heads.
>

Was hex common in the 1960s? It seems most stuff was octal (at least
that's what I saw with the PDP-8 and similar machines in the 1970s.

Harold



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2016\09\03@193224 by John Ferrell

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IBM's 360 product line was hex at the base level of thinking and then relabeled to what ever the task called for.  Kids like me had the advantage because we did not know anything else.  Actually we were transitioning from thinking in terms of 80 column cards in drawers to something you could put on mag tape.  It must have seemed a big waste of memory to the folks that were accustomed to Octal.

I have found it best to not consider Hex and binary separately. Look at first glance and see hex, blink your eyes and see binary.



On 9/1/2016 10:56 PM, Harold Hallikainen wrote:
{Quote hidden}

-- John Ferrell W8CCW
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than with a crowd going the wrong direction.
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2016\09\03@202506 by John Gardner

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....Look at first glance and see hex, blink your eyes and see binary.

That's the way it works for me.  I think in Hex,  preferentially.

For some time now I've been playing with a PDP-8 simulator,  and

the Octal tell-tale finally came on - Pretty neat...

On 9/3/16, John Ferrell <EraseMEjferrell13spam_OUTspamTakeThisOuTtriad.rr.com> wrote:
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2016\09\03@211819 by John Ferrell

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I find it frustrating to see so many things go through the same poor judgement issues like it is 1964 all over again.  Compilers must interpret, link and run.

Editors have become IDE's that no longer are inclined to be tweaked to allow the programmer to alter formatting and fonts to accomadate his/her conditions.

Tool chains that harder to control than the language itself.  And that is only to program an Arduino!



On 9/3/2016 8:25 PM, John Gardner wrote:
> ...Look at first glance and see hex, blink your eyes and see binary.
>
> That's the way it works for me.  I think in Hex,  preferentially.
>
> For some time now I've been playing with a PDP-8 simulator,  and
>
> the Octal tell-tale finally came on - Pretty neat...

-- John Ferrell W8CCW
   Julian NC 27283
 It is better to walk alone,
than with a crowd going the wrong direction.
                  --Diane Grant


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2016\09\03@232051 by Lee piclist

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On 9/1/2016 10:56 PM, Harold Hallikainen wrote:
>
> Was hex common in the 1960s? It seems most stuff was octal (at least
> that's what I saw with the PDP-8 and similar machines in the 1970s.
>
> Harold

Until sometime in the mid-1970's or maybe early-1980's, there was
no industry-wide agreement as size of a byte or size of a word.

I started on DEC (Digital Equipment Corporation) systems.  Early
hardware varied in word size.  PDP-1, PDP-6, PDP-10 used 36 bits
with instruction set supporting 18-bit half words & 9-bit bytes.
[Actually, instruction set supported variable width bytes ranging
from 1-bit to 36-bit; 7-bit (ASCII), 8-bit (IBM EBCDIC), & 9-bit
(8-bit plus parity) bytes were common usage.]

PDP-15 was complete system using 18-bit words.  These word sizes
all dovetailed nicely with octal digits.

PDP-8 was a 12-bit word, so it could easily be octal or hex.  I
think the 3-bit break-up of octal worked better on instruction
sub-fields but it's been too long (I only dabbled in PDP-8).

PDP-11, DEC's high volume product, was 16-bits so an argument
could be made that hex "fit" it better but octal was pretty well
entrenched in the company and worked fine.

VAX-11/780 was when DEC joined the 32-bit word size tidal wave.


On Sat, 3 Sep 2016 19:32:17 -0400, John Ferrell wrote:
>
> IBM's 360 product line was hex at the base level of thinking

IBM's 360 & 370 lines were, as far as I recall, always a 32-bit
word so hex was always a better fit on their big system products.

At various times, I worked on other IBM products.  I don't recall
the 1403's byte or word size.  IBM 1620 was dual-BCD oriented;
easy to read a dump; very slow due to its age.

> transitioning from thinking in terms of 80 column cards

When young, inexperienced, & imbued with religious ferver, I designed
record layouts that were longer than 80 columns just to make the IBM
card-is-king oriented people think.  :-)

> I have found it best to not consider Hex and binary separately.
> Look at first glance and see hex, blink your eyes and see binary.

Right.  I do that.  Also: see octal, blink & see binary is easy too.
See Hex (or Octal), blink, and see Octal (or Hex) is still hard. :-)

Very early in my career, I worked at a shop having both a DEC-10
system and an IBM 360 system.  I simply learned both octal & hex.
My preference was the DEC-10/DEC-20 systems, so octal was "better".

                                               Lee Jones
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2016\09\03@234025 by RussellMc

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On 4 September 2016 at 15:20, Lee piclist <lee-picspamspam_OUTjccwerks.com> wrote:


> I started on DEC (Digital Equipment Corporation) systems.  Early
> hardware varied in word size.  PDP-1, PDP-6, PDP-10 used 36 bits
> with instruction set supporting 18-bit half words & 9-bit bytes.
> [Actually, instruction set supported variable width bytes ranging
> from 1-bit to 36-bit; 7-bit (ASCII), 8-bit (IBM EBCDIC), & 9-bit
> (8-bit plus parity) bytes were common usage.]
>
> ​An aside.
Our engineering school had a PDP-12.
That's NOT a super PDP-11 - it's  a special version of 'something else'.
​
​Years later I was offered it for free​ (apart from the cost of moving the
one or two truckloads involved.
​I had room (more or less) but declined.
Probably wise, but ... .


    Russell
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2016\09\04@011634 by Harold Hallikainen

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> PDP-11, DEC's high volume product, was 16-bits so an argument
> could be made that hex "fit" it better but octal was pretty well
> entrenched in the company and worked fine.
>

As I recall, the instructions on the PDP-11 were broken into 3 bit fields
making octal a nice fit (at least the two operand instructions were that
way).

I always thought the instruction set was very clever. It was something lik
this:

1 bit for word or byte
3 bits for instruction
3 bits for source "mode"
3 bits for source register
3 bits for destination mode
3 bits for destination register

Mode covered things like direct (source or destination in register),
indirect (address of source or destination in register), autoincrement
indirect (I don't remember if it was pre-increment or post, or maybe both
were available), autodecrement indirect, etc.

What was really clever is if you did an auto increment indirect with the
source being the program counter (register 7), The data would be fetched
from the address following the instruction, then the register (the program
counter) would auto increment making it point to the next instruction.
This was the way a "literal" was coded. It was instruction, data, next
instruction. But it was not a special instruction. It was just
autoincrement indirect using the program counter as the register you were
autoincrementing. Similarly, you'd use register 6 as the stack pointer.
All in all, I thought it was very clever. A few basic modes and registers
gave you all you needed.

Another interesting (to me) thing about the PDP-8 was that the most
significant bit was called bit 1. I THINK that on the PDP-11, they changed
this to make the least significant bit be bit 0. This makes a lot more
sense since the bit number now corresponds to the exponent used in the
binary weighting.

While we're at it... Everyone knows how to interpret a two's complement
negative number, right? Do a CIA (complement and increment accumulator) on
it to see what the negated value is (it's now positive). But a very clever
trick I saw once was to just change the sign of the weight of the most
significant bit. Looking at a 4 bit number, for example, we have these
weights:

8 4 2 1

The positive 4 bit integer 1010 is 1*8 + 0*4 +1*2 +0*1 = 10 decimal

Now, say 1010 represents a negative number. Change the sign of the weight
of the msb.

1*(-8) + 0*4 + 1*2 + 0*1 = -6 decimal.

Try the CIA approach to negate as a check

1010
0101 (1's complement - invert bits)
0110 (add 1 to get the 2's complement). The result is +6

Harold


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2016\09\04@213021 by John Ferrell

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"VAX-11/780 was when DEC joined the 32-bit word size tidal wave."

I regret that the only experience I had with this marvelous machine was as a student programmer.
I went back to school in the mid 80's  and finished up a BS in computer Sci.  AFIK, there was no such degree when I dropped out in the early 60's.

The 360-30 (2030) was mostly a microprocessor machine that emulated the 360 instruction set. All of the products I was ever involved with were 8-bit channels.
The Model 30 had about a 60 bit word and a bunch of registers. Capacitor read only storage Was as bad as it sounds like.

"1403's byte or word size"
Did not matter, that was whatever the control unit did. Being fully buffered meant that it was as slow as needed to be but normally faster than anything else on the electrical part.


"1620"
Kind of an oddball descendant of the 1130 world. Down right wierd in that it used a table lookup scheme rather than an ALU.
Sometimes reffered to as the CADET machine, Can't Add Don't Even Try.

"When young, inexperienced, & imbued with religious ferver, I designed record layouts that were longer than 80 columns just to make the IBM
card-is-king oriented people think. :-)"
I was in marketing for a while too.  Exclusive features help sell!


-- John Ferrell W8CCW
   Julian NC 27283
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than with a crowd going the wrong direction.
                  --Diane Grant


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2016\09\04@222446 by Jean-Paul Louis

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John,

Part of my Master thesis in 1972 was to design a real time clock for the IBM 1130.
That was fun as I had to do the hardware design of the clock, and also the drivers
for the software.
The 1130 was an odd ball, but we used it at my college, so that why I got involved
with it. When I started to work, we used a “mini” that was made by a french company
that was almost a clone of the 1130.
Soon after, we moved to a different machine “Nova” from Data General. They were competing
with Digital (PDP-8).
Later they released a “Nova 2” series that was like PDP-11.

That was fun as we were using the machine bare, and created our own OS for testing
Telecom equipment.

Another trip down memory lane.

Jean-Paul
N1JPL




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Jean-Paul
N1JPL




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2016\09\04@222754 by David VanHorn

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Soon after, we moved to a different machine “Nova” from Data General. They
> were competing
> with Digital (PDP-8).
> Later they released a “Nova 2” series that was like PDP-11.bad as it
> sounds like.
>


The Soul of a new Machine!

My first big machine was the PDP 11-70
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2016\09\04@234657 by John Gardner

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To my regret I never encountered a Nova. It's minimalism

is the same thing that attracted me to PIC a decade later...
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2016\09\05@040838 by alan.b.pearce

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> VAX-11/780 was when DEC joined the 32-bit word size tidal wave.

I remember them coming out, with a lot of fanfare from DEC. At about that time I had access to an 11/70 (IIRC) to play around with.

I seem to remember one of the things about the VAX was that it had a small PDP11 machine to boot it up by loading the microcode and getting everything ready to run.



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2016\09\05@050719 by RussellMc

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On 5 September 2016 at 14:27, David VanHorn <KILLspammicrobrixKILLspamspamgmail.com> wrote:

> Soon after, we moved to a different machine “Nova” from Data General. They
> > were competing
> > with Digital (PDP-8).
> > Later they released a “Nova 2” series that was like PDP-11.bad as it
> > sounds like.
> >
>
>
> The Soul of a new Machine!
>
> ​An excellent book.
Well worth reading.
BUT it showed how astoundingly marginal and lashed up the attempts to beat
DEC were. ​

​AFAIR - a significant amount of semi analog effort getting clock timings
and the like "close enough."

I long ago read a shorter but similar document re the implementation of an
80C88.
It reminded me of the early TV games that used CMOS 'digital' ICs to
implement ​analoguish functionality.


        Russell
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2016\09\05@052619 by David C Brown

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A good book indeed.  My experience at ICL designing the 2900 series of
computers was very similar.  They both used the trick of employing you
bright people who were too inexperienced to realise that they were been
asked to do the near impossible so they did it.   My son appears to have
been employed as a system programmer at Amazon on the same basis.

And you probable have never heard of the 2900 series which was not a
commercial success, mainly because I left the company before the design was
fully debugged :-) :-)

On 5 September 2016 at 10:06, RussellMc <RemoveMEapptechnzTakeThisOuTspamgmail.com> wrote:

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2016\09\05@074843 by RussellMc

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On 5 September 2016 at 21:26, David C Brown <RemoveMEdcb.homespamTakeThisOuTgmail.com> wrote:

> A good book indeed.  My experience at ICL designing the 2900 series of
> computers was very similar.  They both used the trick of employing you
> bright people who were too inexperienced to realise that they were been
> asked to do the near impossible so they did it.   My son appears to have
> been employed as a system programmer at Amazon on the same basis.
>
> And you probable have never heard of the 2900 series which was not a
> commercial success, mainly because I left the company before the design was
> fully debugged :-) :-)
>
>
​That immediately reminded me of the AMD2900 bit slice system introduced
the following year

AMD 2900 1975 <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AMD_Am2900>

       Garglebet ...
<https://www.google.co.nz/search?num=100&q=amd+2900&spell=1&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjyj6uDgvjOAhWCkZQKHRYWDMUQBQgZKAA&biw=1527&bih=841>

ICL 2900 1974 <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ICL_2900_Series>  (6 years in
the making)

 ICL2900 + DB
<https://www.google.co.nz/search?q=%22icl+2900%22+%22david+brown%22&num=100&filter=0&biw=1527&bih=841>


Bob Eager escrit <http://www.tavi.co.uk/icl/bob.htm>



 R
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2016\09\05@085349 by John J. McDonough

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On Sun, 2016-09-04 at 21:30 -0400, John Ferrell wrote:

>
> "1620"
> Kind of an oddball descendant of the 1130 world. Down right wierd in 
> that it used a table lookup scheme rather than an ALU.
> Sometimes reffered to as the CADET machine, Can't Add Don't Even Try.
>

Somehow I don't think the 1620 was a "descendant" of the 1130 given
that it was introduced six years earlier.

We had 1620's at school, and they were pretty odd.  We learned to
program them in "NCE Load and Go", kind of a FORTRAN-y language.  Later
we could use the "big" 1620 programmed in Kingston FORTRAN 2.  We also
had a FORTRAN IV compiler, but that was too big and new for students.

--McD

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2016\09\05@100206 by David C Brown

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When I moved to Jodrell Bank Observatory in 1978 it was to build special
purpose computers and the 2900 bit slices were the heart of the design.
(We also wrote a Forth interpreter for them).

For the ICL2900 I worked on one of the earliest semiconductor memories
using 1K dynamic chips and implementing Hamming error correction.   When I
went for an interview with our Ministry of Defence the interviewers laughed
out loud at the idea of making a 4MByte semiconductor memory.  Wonder what
they would make of the current multi GByte chips

On 5 September 2016 at 12:48, RussellMc <apptechnzEraseMEspam.....gmail.com> wrote:

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2016\09\05@104605 by alan.b.pearce

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> For the ICL2900 I worked on one of the earliest semiconductor memories
> using 1K dynamic chips and implementing Hamming error correction.   When I
> went for an interview with our Ministry of Defence the interviewers laughed
> out loud at the idea of making a 4MByte semiconductor memory.  
Why, how big did they have in mind ???



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2016\09\05@112817 by David C Brown

picon face
They were thinking in terms of 64K or so, I think.   To be fair we had a
lot of problems getting the damn things to work.  The refresh cycle put a
bigger load on the power supply than we anticipated so we ended up
refreshing in banks to even out the load.   hamming was  revelation to me:
such an elegant solution.

On 5 September 2016 at 15:46, <RemoveMEalan.b.pearcespam_OUTspamKILLspamstfc.ac.uk> wrote:

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2016\09\05@132817 by John Gardner

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.... Hamming was  revelation to me: such an elegant solution.

In regard to the elegance of Hamming,  I concur.

I'm curious about why a Hamming implementation was necessary

with RAM?  (A question,  no implied criticism...)
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2016\09\05@163400 by David C Brown

picon face
It wasn't necessary.  But, even with the well established core ,memory it
was usual to use a single parity bit on each byte and our original
intention was to continue that practice.  but with the 64 bit word we were
using that meant that there would be eight parity bits and some bright
spark - not me - quickly realised that those bits could be better employed
in a Hamming configuration.   Semiconductor memory was very new in 1970 and
we had some reservations about its robustness.

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2016\09\05@173639 by John Gardner

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Makes sense - Thanks.  Sounds like you've had your share of fun...  :)

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2016\09\05@210118 by Bob Ammerman

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face

> Soon after, we moved to a different machine “Nova” from Data General. They
> were competing with Digital (PDP-8).
> Later they released a “Nova 2” series that was like PDP-11.
> Jean-Paul

The NOVA and NOVA II had the same architecture and instruction set.

~ Bob Ammerman
RAm Systems





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2016\09\05@210211 by Bob Ammerman

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> The Soul of a new Machine!

I worked for Data General at the top this was happening. Exciting times1

~ Bob Ammerman
RAm Systems


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2016\09\05@221710 by John Gardner

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If it was half as interesting as the book makes it out to be,

it must have been awesome...  :)

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2016\09\05@224721 by Jean-Paul Louis

picon face
Bob,

That was a long time ago (1973 to 1977), as I left the department just as the Nova II came on the plant. So excuse my memory deficiency about the details of the Nova II.

Before leaving (circa 1976), I used an Eclipse machine to run Test simulations I wrote using Fortran V.
That was my last job dealing with Data General machines, and I had a lot of fun with them.

After that time, I started traveling all over the world for the company, so I lost contact with the Test team. In 1985, I ended up moving to the US, and never heard about Data General again.

Jean-Paul
N1JPL



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2016\09\06@013547 by John Ferrell

face
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I am certain you are right. I had no training or experience on either the 1620 or the 1130.


On 9/5/2016 8:53 AM, John J. McDonough wrote:
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   Julian NC 27283
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than with a crowd going the wrong direction.
                  --Diane Grant


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2016\09\06@015331 by John Ferrell

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That was the situation with the IBM 370-145. It had FET storage that was very noise sensitive. The storage units were twice as wide as the data path to provide the resources for error correction on the fly within the storage. The error correction did not slow the machine down. That system took a huge amount of power and generated heat to match.


On 9/5/2016 4:33 PM, David C Brown wrote:
> It wasn't necessary.  But, even with the well established core ,memory it
> was usual to use a single parity bit on each byte and our original
> intention was to continue that practice.  but with the 64 bit word we were
> using that meant that there would be eight parity bits and some bright
> spark - not me - quickly realised that those bits could be better employed
> in a Hamming configuration.   Semiconductor memory was very new in 1970 and
> we had some reservations about its robustness.

-- John Ferrell W8CCW
   Julian NC 27283
 It is better to walk alone,
than with a crowd going the wrong direction.
                  --Diane Grant


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2016\09\06@041437 by RussellMc

face picon face
Memory suggested and this confirms


https://www.cs.auckland.ac.nz/historydisplays/FirstFloor/IBM1620/IBM1620Main.php

that a 1620 was THE Auckland University computer 'back then'.

All this definitely falls in the 'uphill both ways, in the snow,  no shoes
(or feet), bottom of a lake cardboard box (or none)' class.

My recollections are that it operated in BCD rather than binary (which
allowed eg accounting software to return exact calculations rather than
binary approximations where the cents got munged) (and yes, you can of
course also do that on a binary machine) and that the Fortran compiler was
two pass, the second part needing to be loaded when the first had run,
there not being enough memory in the machine to load the whole compiler at
once.

Having to punch cards to run your programs and then submit cards decks was
bad enough.

However, on graduation I moved to Hamilton 70 miles South of Auckland.
The available computer was run by "The Ministry of Works' and located 400
miles south in Wellington.
We had neither terminal nor card-punch nor any other sign of higher tech.
We would fill in squares on a coding sheet. These were couriered daily
across town to the local MOW office. There they were punched to card by
operators, the cards read locally by a card-reader to feed said computer
400 miles away.
Printouts were sent to us "soon after".
I'm not sure now (42  years ago) how long it took all up but I think "some
days".

One tried very hard ot get programs 'right first time'.


    Russell


On 6 September 2016 at 17:35, John Ferrell <spamBeGonejferrell13spamKILLspamtriad.rr.com> wrote:

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2016\09\06@043855 by alan.b.pearce

face picon face
During the early 1980s I serviced machines that had the original triple supply 16k dynamic RAM chips in them. The RAM chips were mounted as 18 chips on a daughter board giving 32k x 9 modules, which plugged onto a mother board that had all the necessary buffers and control logic.
Every so often a module would be sent in to the workshop with a hard parity error. Sure enough you could run the memory test and a hard error would be found at a single location. If ran the memory test every day then the error persisted.

However if the module was put on the shelf for a week or so then the error went away. My understanding from the literature of the time was that such faults were known to be caused by a radiation particle (one of alpha, beta or gamma, I can't remember which) that would manage to hit the semiconductor in such a way that it would lodge in the oxide insulation of the storage capacitor, leaving a charge on the capacitor. From then on that bit would only ever show one state. The story seemed to be that the charge was equivalent to around 16000 electrons, which was about what the charge was on the capacitor when charged normally to one of the states.

Powering the chip up every day never allowed the charge that had been tunnelled into the oxide to leak away, but leaving it on the shelf unpowered meant that the natural leakage of the oxide was enough for the electrons that had tunnelled their way into the oxide to leak away over a period of time and the memory came good again.

I understood that part of the problem was the ceramic the chips were packed in, some ceramics were natural sources of suitable radiation particles that created the memory errors, along with natural radiation from the sun and various other sources of background radiation around us.. By the time that technology had moved on to single supply 16k chips the ceramic technology had also moved on and had been developed so it produced less radiation and could help shield from background radiation, and that sort of problem just steadily disappeared.



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2016\09\06@044918 by alan.b.pearce

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I was a member of the Wellington Computer Club (I think that was its name) in the early 1980s, and we had a visit to the computer centre at Victoria University one evening, arranged by a couple of members who worked there.  They had a Burroughs machine of some vintage, and when time came to replace it, they chose an IBM (don't remember the model). But what I do remember is these guys who ran it telling us they deliberately chose an OS that made it hard to use the card reader system, to force everyone to get their card decks onto take which had a lot less handling difficulties.

If you were a stick-in-the-mud that insisted on using cards you had to put up with the operational difficulties in loading them onto the machine.

At the same time as installing the IBM they refurbished the computer room, and they also had this tale of getting the computer to generate a random pattern for the coloured floor tiles, which was duly printed out and given to the contractors dealing with replacing the tiles. The member said he had visions of the tilers wandering around double and triple checking that they had the layout  right ... ;)


> {Original Message removed}

2016\09\06@050242 by David C Brown

picon face
Alpha particles from the packaging can induce soft errors.  Cosmic rays are
also another cause of soft errors and are especially problematic in space
applications.   Cosmic ray errors were something thast we had to take into
account when building equipment to be used in high altitude observatories
such as Manau Kea

On 6 September 2016 at 09:38, <TakeThisOuTalan.b.pearceKILLspamspamspamstfc.ac.uk> wrote:

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2016\09\06@054807 by alan.b.pearce

face picon face
Yeah, I get involved in that too, building instruments for space flight.

But many chips these days are rad tolerant by design, once you go below (IIRC) 250? micron a lot of the soft error problems go away.



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2016\09\06@062253 by Richard Prosser

picon face
Alan,
That would have been the Burroughs 6700 machine that was installed
while I was at Victoria. Prior to that there was an Elliot machine.
IIRC the Elliot ran on EBCIDIC coding while the Burroughs used ASCII.
Either way we had to punch our own cards and submit them for
processing & hope  things worked. As students, we were only ever
allowed a brief & distant glimpse of the actual hardware anyway.
Programming was in Algol with Fortran later on. Not sure what version though.

RP


On 6 September 2016 at 20:49,  <TakeThisOuTalan.b.pearcespamspamstfc.ac.uk> wrote:
> I was a member of the Wellington Computer Club (I think that was its name) in the early 1980s, and we had a visit to the computer centre at Victoria University one evening, arranged by a couple of members who worked there.  They had a Burroughs machine of some vintage, and when time came to replace it, they chose an IBM (don't remember the model). But what I do remember is these guys who ran it telling us they deliberately chose an OS that made it hard to use the card reader system, to force everyone to get their card decks onto take which had a lot less handling difficulties.
>
> If you were a stick-in-the-mud that insisted on using cards you had to put up with the operational difficulties in loading them onto the machine.
>
> At the same time as installing the IBM they refurbished the computer room, and they also had this tale of getting the computer to generate a random pattern for the coloured floor tiles, which was duly printed out and given to the contractors dealing with replacing the tiles. The member said he had visions of the tilers wandering around double and triple checking that they had the layout  right ... ;)
>
>
>> {Original Message removed}

2016\09\06@160652 by RussellMc

face picon face

On 6 September 2016 at 20:13, RussellMc <apptechnzEraseMEspamgmail.com> wrote:

> Memory suggested and this confirms
>
>              www.cs.auckland.ac.nz/historydisplays/FirstFloor/
> IBM1620/IBM1620Main.php
>
> that a 1620 was THE Auckland University computer 'back then'.
>
>
​A friend suggested that my recollections were wrong and that the original
1620 had been replaced by an 1130 since then - which seems to have been the
case.
Slippery edged grey hole results:

_________________

John

Let's see if I have model number right.
Then I'll Garglabet it.
Along the way the University got given a Burroughs B6700 - this had been
part of the ill fated Health Department computer project whose demands grew
as its deliverables shrank until it eximploded, or impexloded perhaps. That
was the main main frame when I did my ME and may have only been installed
after oit\r BE sojourns.
I remember a Randem non-stop mini being available for general engineering
student use. Number of terminals were unlimited for practical purposes - it
just got slowwwwwwwwwwwer and
slowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwer the more people who logged
on. At peak periods you could CAREFUULY blind type o\in a line or few of
commands which it would display and action when your time slice came round.

Googlabet:

To search string:        b6700 nz health department burroughs

3 for the price of one:

It responds:

https://www.cs.auckland.ac.nz/historydisplays/FourthFloor/MainFrameComputers/BurroughsB6700.php

The University of Auckland bought its first computer in 1963, the IBM 1620.
This service was later augmented with an IBM1130 (a low-end computer using
System/360 technology, designed in France) *but it was not until 1971 that
the University gained its first computer in the mainframe class, the
Burroughs B6700. *This was part of a deal brokered by the University Grants
Committee where Auckland, Massey, Victoria, Canterbury and Otago all
installed the same computer.


No mention there of Health Department.
So B6700 while I was doing BE.

More here

http://nethistory.co.nz/Chapter_2_-_Battling_with_Big_Iron/

Further searching found little on the failed Ministry of Health Computer
system - it will be 'out there somewhere'. Seems to have been 1980's - well
after the B6700 installation.

____________________________________________

*Lots on the 1130 in general:*

EBCDIC had (while not forgotten) faded from memory. My conclusion on
looking at it at the time was that it had been introduced to make life hard
for competitors to copy their systems. My recollection is that it breaks
logical sequences of numbers and letter up by introducing blocks of
characters which make linear translation impossible or difficult. Use of eg
a lookup table to translate or extract or linearise this is easy, but was
annoying and expensive in seed and memory requirements 'back then I may
have missed something then or misrecalled something there.

______

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_1130

https://www-03.ibm.com/ibm/history/exhibits/1130/1130_intro.html

       + some good links

   http://www-03.ibm.com/ibm/history/exhibits/1130/1130_intro.html

http://www.ibm1130.net/

http://ibm1130.org/

*The IBM 1130 Computing System* was introduced in 1965. It was IBM's
least-expensive computer to date, and was aimed at price-sensitive,
computing-intensive technical markets like education and engineering. It
became quite popular, and the 1130 and its non-IBM clones gave many people
their first feel of "personal computing." Though its price-performance
ratio was good and it notably included inexpensive disk storage, it
otherwise broke no new ground technically. The 1130 holds a place in
computing history primarily because of the fondness its former users hold
for it.


http://ibm1130.org/sw
​
  simulator <http://ibm1130.org/sim>
  annual party <http://ibm1130.org/party>    may be getting a bit behind

1965 press release    http://www.ibm1130.net/1130Release.html


 Russell

............

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2016\09\07@071722 by RussellMc

face picon face

BCC: Iain - read John's compile sequence :-)


On 7 September 2016 at 08:06, RussellMc <RemoveMEapptechnzEraseMEspamspam_OUTgmail.com> wrote:

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Thanks Russell

Brings back fond memories of my very first computer program.  (1965 at
Canterbury).  And yes, Bruce Moon (mentioned in the article) was our
lecturer/instructor.  My first program was about 30 cards (IBM Hollerith
code).  These had to be punched and then verified by rekeying the initial
instructions. Then you had to load the bootstrap program into the 1620 and
use that to load the FORTRAN compiler and execute with the 30 card source
deck as the input data.  The complier produced about 300 cards of object
code (machine language) which was then loaded back into the machine using
the bootstrap loader and then executed to produce the hopefully desired
results.  If your source code wasn’t good, the compiler would generate
error messages, which you needed to fix and rerun (no object deck produced
until the compiler thought it was OK).  And then if there were bugs in the
program logic as opposed to FORTRAN syntax then you had to compile over
again – another deck of 300 cards, and maybe again if you were one of the
3rd time lucky brigade!!

I don’t think our kids would believe that it could have been so complex.
Now I have a phone that is a much more complex and capable device than that
“million dollar” machine.

Hope you are all well.

Best wishes

John
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2016\09\07@113749 by Bob Ammerman

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> Before leaving (circa 1976), I used an Eclipse machine to run Test
simulations I
> wrote using Fortran V.
> That was my last job dealing with Data General machines, and I had a lot
of fun
> with them.

FORTRAN 5 was a Data General special, not a standard. It was close to
FORTRAN 66. The compiler did a good job of optimizing, especially for the
time. However, it took just about _forever_ to run. DG actually capitalized
on that by running an ad showing a hairy boar face on, with the legend:

"Our FORTRAN 5 Compiler is a PIG, so your programs won't be."

That isn't the only creative advertising from DG. When IBM came out with the
801 computer, the trade press said, "IBM has legitimized the minicomputer
business". DG's response was supposedly an ad reading:

"They say that IBM has legitimized the minicomputer business. The bastards
say 'welcome'."

-- Bob Ammerman
RAm Systems



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2016\09\07@123205 by John Gardner

picon face

... if there were bugs in the
program logic as opposed to FORTRAN syntax then you had to compile over
again – another deck of 300 cards, and maybe again if you were one of the
3rd time lucky brigade!!

That would be me...

...The bastards say...

 :)

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2016\09\10@164231 by John Ferrell

face
flavicon
face

I keep hoping that an IBM 650 programmer will stop by and explain how
they dealt with latency on a computer with drum memory...

That would reach into the 1950's.  About all I remember about it was the
multitude of 25L6 vacuum tubes.


On 9/7/2016 7:16 AM, RussellMc wrote:
> I don’t think our kids would believe that it could have been so complex.
> Now I have a phone that is a much more complex and capable device than that
> “million dollar” machine.

--
John Ferrell W8CCW
   Julian NC 27283
 It is better to walk alone,
than with a crowd going the wrong direction.
                  --Diane Grant


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2016\09\11@033551 by alan.b.pearce

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> I keep hoping that an IBM 650 programmer will stop by and explain how they
> dealt with latency on a computer with drum memory...

I believe they had a pretty cunning compiler that would order the instructions on the drum so that as one instruction was completing the next was just coming up to the read head. It certainly boggles my mind how they did this..

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