On this day, in 1943, the ENIAC project was begun.
ENIAC was the first electronic general-purpose computer. Built initially for the military to calculate artillery balistics, the first application was actually simulations for the atomic bomb.
Sixty years ago, six young women programmed the world’s first all-electronic computer, the ENIAC. Their ballistics program used hundreds of wires and 3000 switches. Never introduced, they never became a part of history. Forty years later, Kathy Kleiman was told that the women in pictures with ENIAC (1946) were “Refrigerator Ladies,” models posed in front of the machine.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The ENIAC Programmers worked tirelessly to make programming easier for all. They created the first sort routine, software application and instruction set, and classes in programming. Their work dramatically altered computing in the 1940s and 1950s. They paved the path to the modern software industry.
Interesting article on social barriers to technology adoption via Why the First Laptop Had Such a Hard Time Catching On (Hint: Sexism) – Technology – The Atlantic.
The GRiD computer, one of the first laptop designs, did not have a good adoption cycle. Initially it was thought to be due to the price (over $8000 in 1982 prices) and weight (over 11 pounds). This is probably at least partially true. But the real reason, according to Jeff Hawkins, founder of Palm and Handspring, was sociological:
This is an amazing fact. We had this product. It was designed for business executives. And the biggest obstacle, one of the biggest obstacles, we had for selling the product was the fact — believe it or not — that it had a keyboard. I was in sales and marketing. I saw this first-hand. At that time, 1982, business people, who were in their 40s and 50s, did not have any computer or keyboard in their offices. And it was associated with being part of the secretarial pool or the word processing (remember that industry?) department. And so you’d put this thing in their office and they’d say, "Get that out of here." It was like getting a demotion. They really were uncomfortable with it.
This was definitely something I saw at the time as well, not just for the GRiD, but for anything with a keyboard; terminals, desktop computers, etc. Many managers were simply not going to get on the computer to type things. I know several that had their admins print out their e-mail so they could read it, hand write a reply to give back to their admins to type up.
Hawkins is candid in the problem:
“We couldn’t solve this problem. It took a generational change, for the next younger group who had been exposed to terminals and computers to grow up,” he continued. “That was an amazing technology adoption problem you would have never thought about.”
The ORIGINAL: The World Wide Web project.
screen shot of Original WWW in a GUI Browser (Firefox)
screen shot of Original WWW in Lynx text browser
Such a trip down memory lane! Thanks, T B-L!!
Filing this for future reference:
China’s Terracotta Warriors: The First Emperor’s Legacy
Sunday, October 28, 2012—Sunday, January 20, 2013
Target Galleries (admission charged)
Ticketed Exhibition (FREE for members!)
Presented by: JP Morgan Chase
Get a glimpse into the life and legacy of China’s First Emperor. And see more than 120 rare objects including 10 terracotta tomb warriors— and other amazing artifacts from this extraordinary archaeological excavation.
A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, this exhibition takes visitors on a journey from the birth and rise of the Qin Empire to the life and rule of the First Emperor, his quest for immortality, and his death, burial, and legacy. To do so, it brings to Minneapolis treasures from one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of our time, drawn from more than 13 institutions in China, including the Museum of Terracotta Warriors and Horses, the Shaanxi Provincial Archaeological Institute, and the Shaanxi History Museum. The exhibition presents carefully selected objects, including bronze ritual and jade artifacts, gold and silver ornaments, and palatial architectural components that illustrate the emergence of the Qin State.
The MIA was among the first museums outside China to feature some of these figures in a small display held in 1985. Twenty-six years later, Chinese archaeologists are still toiling away around the burial mound of one of the most remarkable figures in the history of China, the First Emperor. The exhibition focuses on this extraordinarily influential man.
www.artsmia.org / Exhibitions.
As an add-on to the previous posting, I found this site, and this fantastic infographic about the principle mountains and rivers of the world. Modern-day infographic creators could learn a lot from this:
Infographic showing the major mountains and rivers of the world
The Principal Mountains and Rivers of the World compiled from the Latest Authorities. New York. Schonberg & Co. 1864. – David Rumsey Historical Map Collection.
This is a pretty cool site — especially for map lovers — the site has collected and digitized historical maps and presents them in a google maps sort of fashion. You can select which map you want to view from the sidebar for the location you’re viewing.
Old Maps Online.
Great story about a black, female pioneer in the software industry, told by her son.
A Woman's Story – raganwald's posterous.
They tried various other questions, questions from other tests, questions they used for more advanced candidates. Gwen answered as best she could. The men were amazed. To their credit, once they became convinced that she hadn’t faked her results, they knew she would be a great hire. They recommended her for training as a programmer analyst, the most senior position being filled. She completed the training and became one of the first women to program computers in Canada.
Thank you, Gwen.
A fantastic hand-drawn infographic showing the historical flow of science fiction:
“History of Science Fiction” is a graphic chronology that maps the literary genre from its nascent roots in mythology and fantastic stories to the somewhat calcified post-Star Wars space opera epics of today. The movement of years is from left to right, tracing the figure of a tentacled beast, derived from H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds Martians. Science Fiction is seen as the offspring of the collision of the Enlightenment (providing science) and Romanticism, which birthed gothic fiction, source of not only SciFi, but crime novels, horror, westerns, and fantasy (all of which can be seen exiting through wormholes to their own diagrams, elsewhere). Science fiction progressed through a number of distinct periods, which are charted, citing hundreds of the most important works and authors. Film and television are covered as well.
History of Science Fiction at Ward Shelley’s site.