Questions tagged [history]

History of computers, digital electronics, hardware manufacturers, and software developers.

33 questions with no upvoted or accepted answers
Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
16 votes
1 answer
490 views

When was an image of an apple first used to promote the APL language

The APL community is contemplating the adoption of a common logo but some are worried about trouble from Apple lawyers. Now, IBM and others have been using apple motifs in promoting APL for a long ...
user avatar
  • 519
15 votes
1 answer
399 views

Why did the 8080's PUSH PSW write one reserved bit as 1 and the other two as 0?

The x86 "flags" register, which holds condition codes and other processor status bits, has several reserved bits with fixed values, but these fixed values are not all the same. In ...
user avatar
  • 359
14 votes
0 answers
390 views

When and where was the ‘dotted sequence of integers’ version numbering scheme invented?

Probably the most widespread software version numbering scheme in use today takes the form of a dotted sequence of integers. Variants of this scheme usually share the following characteristics: ...
user avatar
  • 16.4k
13 votes
0 answers
518 views

Who owns the intellectual property of Thinking Machines today?

Who owns the intellectual property regarding the Connection Machine and other products from Thinking Machines? I believe the remnants were bought by Sun, so possibly Oracle, but does anyone know?
user avatar
10 votes
1 answer
524 views

1990s BBS game featuring mining elements from a planet

Sometime in the 90s (sorry, can't be more specific) I used to dial in to a BBS and play a multi-player game that involved manually mining elements from a planet. It was very detailed, you got employed ...
user avatar
10 votes
0 answers
319 views

How much did Atari pay for GEM?

Atari licensed Digital Research's GEM graphic user interface for the ST. As https://www.filfre.net/2015/04/the-68000-wars-part-2-jack-is-back/ puts it: And of course in the wake of the Macintosh the ...
user avatar
  • 48.8k
9 votes
0 answers
490 views

What was the specific function of the relay which captured Grace Hopper's famous "bug"?

Computer pioneer Grace Hopper often recounted the story of her team finding the first physical computer bug: While she was working on a Mark II Computer at Harvard University in 1947, her associates ...
user avatar
  • 13.8k
9 votes
0 answers
402 views

What is the timeline of NASA ground control computers?

In the movie "Hidden Figures", NASA receives an IBM 7090 in 1961. What is the subsequent timeline of the primary computing means for flight planning and orbit calculation? Specifically, what was the ...
user avatar
  • 15.4k
9 votes
0 answers
612 views

How many Amiga 3000's were produced?

While revisiting this question: Seeking details relating to Amiga 3000 serial numbers I began to wonder how many actual Amiga 3000's were produced by Commodore. I suspect (like most production ...
user avatar
  • 8,416
8 votes
0 answers
375 views

What did the Big Red Button actually do on the IBM 4341?

Wiktionary explains the origin of the term molly guard: Originally a Plexiglas cover improvised for the Big Red Switch on an IBM 4341 mainframe after a programmer's toddler daughter (named Molly) ...
user avatar
  • 13.8k
7 votes
0 answers
255 views

When did Multics begin using '>' as a pathname separator?

As described in this question, Multics used > as the separator between components in pathnames, and < as a parent directory indicator in relative paths. However, an early paper describing the ...
user avatar
  • 12.2k
7 votes
1 answer
391 views

Why was the Altair numbered "8800" even though the processor was an 8080?

The Altair 8800 was a computer using the Intel 8080 processor. Why the difference in numbers?
user avatar
  • 13.8k
6 votes
0 answers
321 views

Looking for an 8-bit microcomputer with a hardware-accelerated database

In some old video on YouTube a few years ago, I noticed a curious computer from the end of the 70s - early 80s. In the rack (half height), typical of minicomputers of those years, there was a 14" ...
user avatar
6 votes
0 answers
339 views

The first micromouse competition in 1977 had 6000 initial entries, what would the majority of them have been (e.g. wall followers)?

The first micromouse competition in 1977, had 6000 initial entries, what would the majority of them have been (e.g. wall followers)? Note - In the link above, first micromouse competition in 1977, it ...
user avatar
  • 137
6 votes
0 answers
201 views

Was there another dialect of Pascal with this range checking feature?

I've decompiled yet another Pascal compiler for the BESM-6. While it does not implement the full language (for example, packed records and arrays are not implemented, helper routines SEL and INS are ...
user avatar
  • 15.4k
6 votes
0 answers
305 views

What was a DEC PDP-11/85 intended to be, and why might it be able to use DECsystem-10 software?

In this DEC PDP-11 Strategy Memo from Sept 1974, there is this curious question. HOW MUCH OF THE DEC SYSTEM 10 SOFTWARE CAN THE 11/85 USE, OR DOES THE 11/85 HAVE TO START FROM SCRATCH? CONFLICTING ...
user avatar
  • 27.6k
6 votes
0 answers
262 views

What percentage of DVD Forum royalties did Sony get?

A slightly arcane question that I think is relevant to a chapter of the history of game consoles whose dynamics I'm trying to understand. In the mid-nineties, several companies were developing optical ...
user avatar
  • 48.8k
5 votes
0 answers
239 views

What was the first device to "beep" in lieu of tactile feedback to button presses?

I'm splitting this question off of When was beeping invented, in a user interface sense? because I think it's more answerable on its own and I suspect likely to still be computing-related. At some ...
user avatar
  • 2,591
5 votes
0 answers
231 views

What was this book about floating-point system design/construction?

A comment on the question Why did 8-bit Basic use 40-bit floating point? says the following (emphasis added): Re, "Nowadays, floating point is usually either 32 or 64 bits." More ...
user avatar
  • 3,072
4 votes
0 answers
180 views

Why did Gran Trak 10 cost so much?

In 1974, Atari released a driving game called Gran Trak 10. The development prototypes had used real car steering wheels and pedals, but it was realized these were too expensive, so they were changed ...
user avatar
  • 48.8k
4 votes
0 answers
146 views

Vic-20 total game cartridge sales

The Vic-20, like many home computers of its time, had a cartridge slot that could be used both as a general expansion slot, and for game cartridges like a console. Game cartridges on the Commodore ...
user avatar
  • 48.8k
3 votes
0 answers
191 views

Why was the IBM 7070 unsuccessful?

In a talk on the IBM 360 and the computers it replaced the speaker at 39:35 describes the 7070 as 'a dog', and elsewhere contrasts it unfavorably with the 1401 (which considerably exceeded ...
user avatar
  • 48.8k
3 votes
0 answers
2k views

How many Amiga 590 units were sold?

The A590 was an external hard disk for the Amiga 500, in 'sidecar' form factor, that could also hold an extra megabyte of RAM. How many 590s were sold, throughout its life?
user avatar
  • 48.8k
3 votes
0 answers
132 views

Which Nobel prize winners names besides Townes were used as code names for Fujitsu computers?

Fujitsu named its late 80s/90s personal computer FM Towns after physics Nobel prize winner Charles Townes. According to the sources (1, 2) I could find, using Nobel prize winners as code names was ...
user avatar
  • 1,238
2 votes
0 answers
175 views

Did other Acorn keyboards use two-shot molding?

The BBC Micro hardware specification includes the clause: The legend on the keys will be achieved by two-shot moulding This is a process by which the glyphs are made to run all the way through the ...
user avatar
  • 48.8k
2 votes
0 answers
133 views

How many people were employed in the UK making Sinclair computers?

According to Wikipedia Sinclair Research had only 140 employees at its peak in the 1980s. I was surprised the number was so small for a company that sold something like five million computers, then I ...
user avatar
  • 48.8k
2 votes
0 answers
160 views

Has anyone heard of SCHEMA page layout tool?

I've found a text formatting tool, under the name of SCHEMA, which would accept an input language like *RED *0STA*NN*RG*1RL*0MCS1 20 *3/ *MDLorem ipsum dolor sit amet, *MDconsectetur adipiscing elit, *...
user avatar
  • 15.4k
2 votes
0 answers
106 views

Do we know any estimate of how many Sinclair ZX Spectrums, clones, and compatibles were made in the world?

The original ZX Spectrum was made by Sinclair and then by Amstrad in the UK. There were official versions also in the US, Europe and even India. There were very many clones and compatibles made in ...
user avatar
  • 3,736
2 votes
0 answers
343 views

What was the cost of the PS2 chip in the last PS3 to have it?

The PlayStation 2 provided backward compatibility with the PS1 by essentially incorporating an entire PS1 on a separate chip. It kept this arrangement permanently. The PS3 started off providing ...
user avatar
  • 48.8k
2 votes
0 answers
116 views

HP presage of the PDA revolution

I no longer have clear memory of this, but I'm fairly certain I read an article back around 1979 or so published by Hewlett Packard. At the time, they had recently released their 41C calculator. I ...
user avatar
  • 361
2 votes
0 answers
137 views

How many units did TI Invaders sell?

I'm trying to get a feel for the scale and dynamics of the early home computer game industry. Statistics for arcade games and console cartridges are relatively easy to come by, e.g. that Pac-Man on ...
user avatar
  • 48.8k
1 vote
0 answers
109 views

Record definitions with IBM COBOL and IMS

A common technology stack for line of business applications in the sixties and seventies was IBM COBOL with the IMS database. I'm curious about how the combination handled record definitions. COBOL ...
user avatar
  • 48.8k
0 votes
0 answers
291 views

What is the origin of the "my" variable/method/et-al in didactic materials?

I think back to many tutorials and code snippets in which I have seen variables, functions, and files with "my" or "my_" prepended. What is the origin of this convention?
user avatar