This is my dumping ground for quotes and other stuff relating to the wonderful world of digital & communications.
One million songs were downloaded in the store’s first week, 25 million by the end of 2003, and one billion by February of 2006. iPod sales responded in kind, jumping from under one million in 2003 to over four million in 2004 to a staggering 22.5 million in 2005. By the time iPod sales reached their peak at nearly 55 million in 2008, the iTunes Store had supplanted Best Buy as the number one music retailer in the US. Less than two years later, in February of 2010, iTunes became the number one music retailer on the planet
At one point in the story, Gulliver encounters a fascinating machine while visiting the Academy of Projectors in the land of Lagando. Gulliver describes the machine, called The Engine: It was twenty feet square, placed in the middle of the room. The superfices was composed of several bits of wood, about the bigness of a die, but some larger than others. They were all linked together by slender wires. These bits of wood were covered, on every square, with paper pasted on them; and on these papers were written all the words of their language, in their several moods, tenses, and declensions; but without any order. This is one of the earliest known mention of a machine that could be considered as a computer in literature, more than a hundred years prior to the first calculating engine designs by Charles Babbage. The Engine might be seen as a computer, but perhaps it’s better thought of as a sort of random-number generator. The machine would create prose and poetry, entirely mechanically. The method of its operation involved turning the frame on which all the words of the language hung and having students read them aloud while capturing the results
(Alan Turing) wanted to invite us to dinner and, thinking us all asleep but having nothing on which to write, was posting through our letter box an invitation scratched on a rhododendron leaf” — there’s some lovely anecdotes in this story, as well as lots of detail about Max Newman
Real breakthroughs aren’t always immediately identifiable as breakthroughs. Sometimes, they just go on to change the world without anyone knowing it’s going to happen or even talking about it much. Their influence becomes so pervasive that people think of it as unremarkable, not remarkable. Take, for instance, Grid Systems’ Grid Compass 1101, a portable computer which was announced in April, 1982. It wasn’t the first computer designed to be toted. It was just the first one in a briefcase-shaped case with a screen on one half of the interior, a keyboard on the other and a hinge in the middle. It was, in other words, the first computer with a clamshell case–or, to use a more common term, the first laptop.
It would be an exaggeration to say that the British mathematician Alan Turing explained the nature of logical and mathematical reasoning, invented the digital computer, solved the mind-body problem, and saved Western civilization. But it would not be much of an exaggeration - Steven Pinker
I read that Charles Babbage, who invented the first computer, had seen the Turk and that was part of what inspired him.
Yup. People then didn’t know it was an illusion. They thought it was a thinking machine. And Babbage thought: “My god, if they can build a machine that plays chess, I should be able to make a machine that that can execute various rational functions.”
So it was later that he built the analytical engine.
Which was programmed with punch cards. And Jaquard, whose looms were programmed that way, may have also seen the Turk. And that was how computing began.
Twenty-five years after the fact, Allan Scherr, a Ph.D. researcher at MIT in the early ’60s, came clean about the earliest documented case of password theft.
In the spring of 1962, Scherr was looking for a way to bump up his usage time on CTSS. He had been allotted four hours per week, but it wasn’t nearly enough time to run the detailed performance simulations he’d designed for the new computer system. So he simply printed out all of the passwords stored on the system.
“There was a way to request files to be printed offline by submitting a punched card,” he remembered in a pamphlet written last year to commemorate the invention of the CTSS. “Late one Friday night, I submitted a request to print the password files and very early Saturday morning went to the file cabinet where printouts were placed and took the listing.”
The finished LEO, which had less than 100,000th the power of a current PC, could calculate an employee’s pay in 1.5 seconds, a job that took an experienced clerk eight minutes. Its success led Lyons to set up a computer subsidiary that later developed two more generations of LEO, the last with transistors, rather than the noisy vacuum tubes used in the first two models.
LEOs were sold to the Ford Motor Company, tobacco companies, a steel maker, South Africa, Australia, the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia, among other buyers. When the British government chose the last LEO to handle its telephone billing system, Tony Benn, postmaster general, praised Lyons for “standing up to and beating on its own merits” the competition from overseas.
on Christmas Eve afternoon in 1964 the calculator was totally functional. I remember the overwhelming realization that sitting in front of me on a red card table in the corner of our bedroom/ workshop, sat more computing power per unit volume than had ever existed on this planet