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September 24, 2010


So an IBM 360 is as far back as we go in geek reminiscence...

My first real after-college job was in the offices of a trucking company, 1968-ish.

We had, I think, a pre-PDP DEC. Two units, each about the size and shape of a bathtub, in a climate-controlled room. One CPU, one storage. It did billing. Nothing else. 24/7. I have no idea what the specs were, but I'm sure it had less power and memory than a $20 graphing or business calculator you can buy in Staples. Fed by whatever you tech pedants want to call "IBM" cards.

Around the same time, my dad retired after 22 years in the army, and went to work as a tech writer (and later editor) for Honeywell. Any of you old farts remember when they were the number two computer-maker, after IBM? Of course, by the time he retired from that job, his stock options were worth bupkes.

I worked in the early-70s in a fabric mill (in the office). They got my friends in the production control department brand-new Sharp four-function calculators. A bargain at @$350/each. Not a typo. For proportion, I was living comfortably on @$11k/year and paid less than $3600 for a brand-new Plymouth, rustbucket piece o'crap that it was.

Our first home computer was an Atari65, '86-ish. CPU, mono amber monitor, two 5" floppy drives, $100 each, total package $400.

Now my 7-year old Gateway needs replacing (starting to run CHKDSK at startup, among other maladies). I think i'll spend about half what I spent for this one, for an equivalent machine.

All of you virtual kids get off my virtual lawn.

FPGA? Nah, just emulate.

@ ral

And the "low cost personal computer" referenced in the Wiki article went for, I think, $8600, with a mono monitor and 10 meg (you read it right) hard drive.

So, it depends on what you want to do. If you've got a fairly limited program, you could implement that on an FPGA with no problem. If you've got a program that has, for instance, a couple of hundred floating point variables, you're going to chew through a lot of gates.

Why would you implement a program on an FPGA rather than a 360 CPU upon which you could run your program?

ef, don't remind me. I bought an IBM PC-1 at ComputerLand with a Davong 12M hard drive. This was before the XT came out. That price tag sounds right. Oh the pain, the pain.

Why would you implement a program on an FPGA rather than a 360 CPU upon which you could run your program?

I have no idea. It wasn't my suggestion.

FPGAs are good for running fixed-point programs on, and little else. Don't get me wrong; they're much more flexible than ASICs, but they're not thee best thing evarr.

I have no idea. It wasn't my suggestion.

Then what was your suggestion? An IBM-360 only had a handful of floating point registers, so I don't understand your point about programs with "hundreds of floating point variables."

It seems that modern FPGAs have little difficulty implementing basic floating point arithmetic at performance comparable to that of 40 year old computers.

I don't know who you're making this point to, Turbulence. I'm not arguing anything at all about FPGAs, relative to 360s. I'm not arguing anything at all, relative to 360s.

My first PC had a 20 Mb hard drive. In 5.5 years (after that it suffered a stroke or something and had to be replaced) this storage space was never exhausted (without me ever deleting much). The first computer I owned had no hard drive at all. The whole operating system fitted on a floppy (still leaving room on the same). At the time many of my classmates saw me as illiterate as far as computers went (most had started with Commodore C64) but at the university (studying chemistry) I was the geek for programming in some BASIC dialect* to solve problems instead of buying some expensive software. Then there came a course when problems had to be solved using MS Q(uick) Basic. The person(s) responsible for that abomination of a programming language should be flayed alive just to begin the festivities.

*I started with Pascal and had to switch to diverse BASICs later

It seems that modern FPGAs have little difficulty implementing basic floating point arithmetic at performance comparable to that of 40 year old computers.

Is there an echo in here?

Am I the last to have read this?

(Sept. 25) -- Two Polish neo-Nazis who were childhood sweethearts and later became skinheads have discovered what for them is a shocking family secret: They're actually Jewish.

Pawel and Ola, identified only by their first names, are the subject of a CNN documentary about Poles rediscovering their Jewish roots generations after their ancestors hid their religious identities to escape persecution during World War II.

Alannis Morissette's definition of ironic was speechlesss, and temporarily unable to comment.

"Am I the last to have read this?"

Unlikely. And I read it last night. :-)

But this sort of thing isn't all that uncommon, particularly in Poland, Russia, and East Germany.

Also Israel.

Also America.

To be very sarcastic: Ideal recruits for the radical settler movement. Similar ideology and methods, only slightly different target.

My first home computer was a Televideo computer that was all messed up, so I eventually used it as a dumb terminal. I bought an Ampro 80186 single board computer with MS-DOS 2.x . It had an 8087 socket for work FFTs and FIRs, and I rigged up the drivers so I could play Hack (Rogue) on it and fight the Orcs on a character based "live action" grid. I bought a SCSI to MFM adapter and put in a 5 megabyte ST-506 hard drive. This had external stepper motors to move the read heads, so you could actually watch it seek to the FAT and then read the files. Later I upgraded to ST-412 10 MB voice coil which was faster but you couldn't watch it. My wife threw this out 10 years ago when we moved and I wasn't at home to supervise :(

Come to think of it, I think the ST-506 was originally in the Televideo, but the disk controller was busted, and that's why it was thrown out.

Post bamboo slide rule?

I was given one as a high school graduation present, but then I got drafted and by the time I'd gotten through the Army and back into college the second generation of handheld scientific calculators from HP and TI had made it obsolete.

Wasn't DaveC banned from Obsidian Wings?

Yes, about two years ago. If he's prepared to behave himself, I'm prepared to give him some leeway. I don't speak for all of ObWi in this matter, though.

evilrooster (Abi): This is far off-topic in this thread at this point, but I am sad to say that I have a great deal of trouble abiding Making Light any more; Teresa's moderation style is too controlling. Sorry. This doesn't particularly have to do with RaceFail.

I find your posts there most enjoyable. I read threads from time to time, and am absorbed, but I'm not inclined to comment there.

Hm. I'm saying this because: damn, Abi, woman, start your own blog or something. Not because ML is an awful venue, mind, but because you have a distinctive voice.

Since this is an open thread I thought I would post a link to the 60 minutes segment on A Relentless Enemy a story from Afghanistan worth taking the time for, stay until the end.

Thanks, Marty. Think I'll steal this link for my class forum. I've got them writing about modern war video games and this will be good for comparison.

ObWi Founder and long-since, ah, RedState enthusiast, believes:

Via Hot Air - and I’m blatantly ripping off Allahpundit’s identification of this as ‘hippie-punching,’ which is sheer genius on his part
Which is pretty hilarious.

But on the rest of this, Democrats might actually pause to consider:

- and let me just add this: if a Republican Vice President presumed to publicly speak of the Republican base in this fashion, the Republican base would swiftly make said Republican Vice President (rhetorically) eat his or her own liver. Raw.

Because we are not tame.

Peter Daou has it right.

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