First US digital computer

More modern marvels from Modern Mechanix.  This time, it’s a nice little write-up on the first digital computer in the U.S.  Originally published in Popular Science in 1944, the write-up now is probably only of interest to really geeky people (like me).  Some interesting facts about the IBM ASCC (Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator) from the site:

  • It cost $250,000 in 1944 dollars.
  • It could calculate using numbers with up to 23 signifigant digits. These were set with an array of 1,440 dials (check out the picture below)
  • It took 3/10 second for add/subtract, 5.8 for multiplication and 14.7 seconds for division.
  • It weighed 35 tons and was powered by a 2 horse-power motor. (With mhz, ghz, mb, gb, tb, dpi, ms, bps, etc don’t you think it’s time hp got back into the computer lexicon?)
  • It contained 500 miles of wire

And some of the article in question:

SOME boy may soon work his way through Harvard University by watching a 51-foot switchboard all night in an air-conditioned basement. Behind its polished panels, electricity will be solving the longest and most difficult mathematical problems ever conceived. It will be doing everything that is known to be mathematically possible with such numbers as 12,743,287,341,045,502,372,098.

Even Commander Howard H. Aiken, U.S.N.R., the professor in charge of this 35-ton calculating machine, says he does not know what you would call a number that long. It is billions of billions.

But the young man running this figure factory will not need to be a mathematician. If anything goes wrong, a red light will flash, he will make a few simple adjustments, and the mountain of machinery will go swiftly on with computations that professors have not lived long enough to complete.

We need to get that flashing red light thing back on computers for when things go wrong, though.  The only flashing red light on my system at home goes on whenever the hard drive lights up.  And the only warning light I get is that bright blue screen that comes up for those special Windows crashes.

[tags]Supercomputers, IBM, ASCC, Modern Mechanix[/tags]

Enermax’ new keyboard = t3h sexay!

(via Engadget)
crystal-keyboard2.jpgEnermax has just announced it’s Crystal keyboard, available for purchase in Japan beginning July 10th for the equivalent of $86. Made of aluminum and connecting to your system with USB port, the keyboard features a very-low profile make, 2 port USB hub, Audio control keys, Blue LEDs (because Blue LEDs are t3h sexi0rist), and extremely high duty cycle keys (rated at 10-million key presses). Keep in mind, however, that this sucker weighs nearly 2.5 pounds. That’s well over one-third the weight of my laptop. So carrying this will certainly be adding a bit of a load to your laptop bag.  It sure is pretty, though.  And Enermax warns the keyboard is “not safe to look at due to risk of hypnosis.”
[tags]Enermax, Keyboards[/tags]

Rumor: Assassin’s Creed coming to XBox360 and PC

(via Joystiq)
I’ve just finished reading the preview of Assassin’s Creed in a recent Game Informer magazine.  If the game works out to be as good as it sounds, this will be one of the best games in the coming year.  Of course, Trespasser sounded to be the same thing, and look how it turned out.  I hope this is available on the PC or XBox 360, since I never expect to buy a PS3 (or at least, not until the PS4 is released) – I can only afford one next gen box, and I guarantee it won’t be the most expensive one.

So, the Joystiq article in full:

A handful of European gaming sites (1, 2, 3), likely originating with French site, have “confirmed” that the mystery of Assassin’s Creed’s exclusivity has been solved: it will be making it’s way to both the Xbox 360 and PC, as well as the previously announced PS3 …

… at least, according to an off the record comment (where’s the reps name?) made to at the recent IDEF 2006 expo held in Cannes. There was no information regarding any timed exclusivity for Sony’s console. We all have our suspicions (hence the mystery) regarding Assassin’s Creed’s multi-platform prospects, but an unsourced comment made by a random Ubisoft representative is hardly confirmation (we’ve contacted Ubisoft for official confirmation). Until it shows up here (which it hasn’t) we’re enormously skeptical. And we dance …

I can’t track down good links for this game other than the final one listed above (dang firewall blocks lots of good stuff), but this is a game worth looking up on Google and reading about.
[tags]Assassin’s Creed, Consoles, PS3, XBox360, Gaming[/tags]

Senator Ted Stevens doesn’t get the ‘net

(via boingboing)

Any of you techies wondering who you have representing you? Have you thought about who it is kowtowing to the telecomm companies who are trying to make the Internet a communication structured controlled by big media and big business?

Sadly, it’s people like this who are “working for” citizens in this country.

I just the other day got, an internet was sent by my staff at 10 o’clock in the morning on Friday and I just got it yesterday. Why?

Because it got tangled up with all these things going on the internet commercially…

They want to deliver vast amounts of information over the internet. And again, the internet is not something you just dump something on. It’s not a truck.

It’s a series of tubes.

And if you don’t understand those tubes can be filled and if they are filled, when you put your message in, it gets in line and its going to be delayed by anyone that puts into that tube enormous amounts of material, enormous amounts of material.

Yes, you read that right. Senator Stevens (R-Alaska) received an internet which took 5 days to travel via the Internet to him. And the reason for this, he thinks, is because the tubes that make up the Internet were blocked by other companies pushing through things not of interest to him. Because of this, cable internet providers, DSL providers, and other such companies should be allowed to charge the companies which send internets over the Internet so they can assure the senders that their internet will be received promptly.

I have no complaints about people not understanding the technology I deal with every day. But to explain something of which you have no concept and use that as the justification for dry-raping consumers while deep-throating big business is just not right. Learn about something before spewing this crap, and then at least support bad law because you understand the implications.

[tags]Net Neutrality, Big business, Raping consumers[/tags]