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Questions tagged [history]

For questions concerning the history of computers, digital electronics, hardware manufacturers and software developers.

15
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10answers
2k views

Were people building CPUs out of TTL logic prior to the 4004, 8080 and the 6800?

I've just finished reading Charles Petzold's book, Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software. In it Charles explains building relays into gates, gates into logic components, and ...
14
votes
2answers
413 views

Do any interesting POP-2 programs survive?

On a disk image (which I had for many years) from a BESM-6, I've suddenly found a working POP-2 (POPLAN) interpreter (for all these years I'd considered that area as useless bits and pieces of various ...
20
votes
2answers
1k views

Actual code written by Ada Lovelace?

I have seen some claims that Ada Lovelace was the first programmer. Is there any actual code to back this up?
16
votes
8answers
2k views

How were bugs reported for compilers that shipped on and were installed via floppy disks?

Take the Microsoft C 1.0 compiler for example. It shipped on multiple 5.25" 360K disks, and when it ran on machines without internal hard disk, so users had to switch floppies between the editor, ...
59
votes
7answers
13k views

Where did the popularity of the `i` variable come from?

I have heard that the reason the i variable is used so much is because there was an old computer where each variable could only be a single letter and that reserved the variables a through h as ...
25
votes
3answers
3k views

What was the first operating system to feature a separate kernel?

Kernels are programs that abstract the hardware of a computer to some extent, allowing other programs to use standardised system calls (e.g. malloc) to perform hardware tasks (e.g. writing to memory, ...
22
votes
4answers
3k views

What register size did early computers use?

Prompted by this question querying the prevalence of byte-addressable memory on machines with 32 bit registers: Why is every address in a micro-controller only 8 bits in size? I'm familiar with the ...
12
votes
2answers
3k views

Computer graphics before the modern GPU [closed]

Modern computers use a graphics processing unit in order to provide hardware-accelerated graphical operations. Conceptually, I am used to thinking about graphics as a bidimensional array of ...
11
votes
1answer
473 views

Why is the 8254's default rate 18.2 Hz?

The Intel 8253/8254 timer, in its default configuration, triggers IRQ0 18.2 times per second. Why this strange rate, and not something like 60 Hz (to match the most common video refresh rate) or 100 ...
18
votes
1answer
537 views

Logo of a bow tie guy with a spoon

I was in the Computer History Museum in Silicon Valley last week, and I saw this badge. I know I've seen that logo somewhere before, but I can't remember where! Does anyone know where it's from?
38
votes
8answers
6k views

What was the first programming book

I'm curious, what was the first book, about programming for digital computers. I tried to google it, but it led me to multiple results. I'm mostly interested in the language it was about and the ...
31
votes
1answer
2k views

What soviet computer used trinary bits?

Discussing 'non-standard byte sizes' with co-workers today, one mentioned hearing of soviet experiments with computers that used three-state bytes - and not just what is common today, 0, 1 and High ...
21
votes
5answers
3k views

Over its lifetime, how many Apple II computers were sold?

It would be nice to break it down by model if possible.
30
votes
4answers
2k views

Why did the Bell 103 modem use a data rate of 300 bps?

Virtually every telephone modem in existence runs at a data rate that's a multiple of the Bell 103A's 300 bps. Why was the base 300 bps chosen in the first place?
35
votes
9answers
4k views

What is the oldest computer capable of running a modern version of Linux?

A bit of a trivia question: What is the oldest hardware capable of running a modern Linux-based operating system ? By this I mean being capable of running a fairly recent Linux kernel, in some form. ...
18
votes
2answers
879 views

What was the earliest non-valve, non-mechanical computer?

Just wondering how history questions will fare here. They could be a good addition to our scope. Pretty much exactly as the title says. Some of the earliest computers were based on valve systems or ...
14
votes
5answers
748 views

Was there any commercially available graphical interfaces before the apple Lisa?

I just finished the Steve Jobs biography and I thought... Was the apple Lisa really the first commercially available Graphical interface? This is just out of interest but I'll be really interested ...