Questions tagged [history]

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

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5
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2answers
385 views

COBOL and processing card files directly

COBOL was the first exercise in design of a programming language by a committee of representatives from competing companies. irrespective of one's opinion of the technical quality of the end result, ...
4
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1answer
214 views

What was machine-specific about Honeywell FACT?

While COBOL was the first highly successful business-oriented programming language, several business-oriented languages were designed before it in the late fifties, including Honeywell-800 Business ...
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5answers
6k views

Was Windows 95 really released in 1995?

Here's a recent Microsoft article claiming, "Windows 95 was launched on August 24, 1995". https://blogs.windows.com/windows-insider/2020/08/24/looking-back-the-25th-anniversary-of-windows-95/...
46
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2answers
6k views

What did the DoD think Fortran lacked?

According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/COBOL the project to design COBOL began when On 28 and 29 May 1959 (exactly one year after the Zürich ALGOL 58 meeting), a meeting was held at the Pentagon ...
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4answers
1k views

Why did the assigned goto statement in Fortran need a label list?

FORTRAN had an 'assigned goto' statement. Firstly, a statement number is assigned to a variable: ASSIGN 42 TO L Subsequently, one can obey GOTO L which (given the preceding ASSIGN) would transfer ...
17
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2answers
2k views

When did FORTRAN decide on signed integers?

I have personally always been of the opinion that it would make sense for the default integer type to be unsigned, though it's been a long time since that would've been a live issue for debate; C in ...
2
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0answers
150 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, *...
33
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1answer
2k views

When and where did the $ convention for hexadecimal literals originate?

I found this question asking about the origin of 0x to denote hexadecimal to be interesting. However, when I cut my teeth programming on 8-bit 65xx systems in the early 80's everything I saw used a $ ...
46
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1answer
5k views

Where and when did the `0x` convention for hexadecimal literals originate?

By the early 1980s, C was using 0x as a prefix to indicate integer literals expressed in hexadecimal, e.g., 0xCAFE. This did not exist in B as of 1972, though B did support octal integer literals via ...
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2answers
811 views

What was the first microcomputer capable of working with Japanese kanji?

Apparently the first microcomputer capable of working with the Chinese language in Chinese characters was the Microprofessor II (or MPF-II-C), a Taiwanese Apple II clone from 1982. Now I'm 99% sure ...
17
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2answers
2k views

What is the oldest reference to PEEK, POKE, and USR?

I've been reading manuals for BASIC implementations and the earliest reference I can find to PEEK, POKE, and USR is in the Altair BASIC 3.2 manual, published in 1975. This morning I came across this ...
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2answers
569 views

Was it possible to win the "Lunar Lander" game with less fuel than the default?

A while ago I asked about the possible origin of a Russian version of the "Lunar Lander" game. No definitive answers were given. Meanwhile, I was able to decompile the binary into a semi-...
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2answers
614 views

Were the 80s more educational on IT? [closed]

I keep telling to everyone who wants to hear it (or not) that my personal IT education as a kid in the 80s was superior to what kids are exposed to today (to the degree that I can observe that as a ...
28
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6answers
8k views

What did the "programs" that "human computers" executed look like?

The Wikipedia article Computer (job description) says that before the invention of electronic computers, the term "computer" used to refer to people who worked as "computers". My ...
5
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1answer
768 views

Who are we quoting when we note that "Code is written once but read many times"? [closed]

I have often heard or read the expression, "code is written once but read many times". I think this is a fairly well-known principle of software development. But I have no idea with whom to ...
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3answers
2k views

Where did the the term "chrome," referring to onscreen decorations, originate?

To most people today "chrome" probably sounds like a reference to the web browser; but at least in Microsoft contexts I've read "chrome" to refer to window decorations - like the ...
2
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2answers
348 views

First 386 PC on sale in the UK

In the early days of personal computers, there was something of a delay in the technology crossing the Atlantic, and when American computers did arrive in the UK, they tended to be expensive relative ...
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8answers
5k views

Which CPUs, if any, had an 8-bit address space?

Even the Intel 4004, which had a 4-bit word size, had a 12-bit address space. I'm wondering if any commercial CPUs had an 8-bit or similar address-space for programs, data, or both. I'm particularly ...
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7answers
9k views

Did any computer use a 7-bit byte?

In an answer to Why did IBM System 360 have byte addressable RAM I wrote regarding the choice of byte size: 7 bits would be a perfect match for ASCII, but engineers would instinctively recoil from ...
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1answer
268 views

When was the term Multics (operating system) coined and by whom?

From the history of Multics, I found that Project MAC was established on July 1, 1963 by MIT for the development of the Multics operating system and later GE (General Electric) and AT&T's Bell ...
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5answers
2k views

What was novel about the Atari ST? Did it introduce any innovations?

Recalling the rise of 16bit era, an era that in my memories was defined mainly by Motorola 68k cpu computers: The Mac, brought the GUI interface. The A bomb, the Amiga, with its custom chips-...
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0answers
296 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 ...
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1answer
436 views

Which were the best selling early MS-DOS PCs apart from the IBM PC?? [closed]

The IBM PC in 1981 was rapidly followed by a rich ecosystem of computers with x86 CPUs running MS-DOS, not all of which were compatible at the hardware level. There is a list of some early MS-DOS ...
6
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1answer
298 views

Which x87 first acquired the ability to flush denormal to zero?

On modern Intel FPUs, you can set a flag to cause all denormals to be automatically flushed to zero. On some workloads, this improves performance. I cannot find any mention of that flag in the data ...
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3answers
2k views

How was the 80186 incompatible with the IBM PC?

According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intel_80186 The 80186 would have been a natural successor to the 8086 in personal computers. However, because its integrated hardware was incompatible with ...
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3answers
2k views

What was the second most common incompatibility in MS-DOS machines? [closed]

When the IBM PC was released, it did not take long for people to figure out that there would be a big market for compatible machines. The first wave relied on MS-DOS as the compatibility layer. The ...
2
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1answer
121 views

Which Apple II emulators were the first ones each to use the .do and .po "dsk" floppy disk image file formats?

Apple II emulation must have started around 25 years ago but I can't seem to find a history of emulation of the platform. There are several disk image file formats but for now I'm interested in the ...
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14answers
11k views

Did many programs really store years as two characters (Y2K bug)?

The claim that programs stored dates as two ASCII or similar characters because computers were limited in resources seems wrong to me because it takes more memory than one 8-bit integer would. Also in ...
57
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19answers
18k views

Why were computer customers called "Users"?

The term User for computer hardware and software customers has been universal for as long as I can remember. It has always applied to both hardware and software customers - There were "Lotus Users" ...
2
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3answers
238 views

Webservers: When did www.domain.net/dir/file.html first not point to $WWWROOT/dir/file.html but to something virtualized?

If I'm not mistaken, the first webserver simply served all files and directories in a certain local directory (WWWROOT) in the identical hierarchy at a certain domain. This is in line how e.g. an FTP ...
33
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4answers
5k views

Why was 'echo on' chosen as the default setting within batch scripts in MS-DOS?

In my experience, just about every single MS-DOS (and thus Windows cmd) batch file starts with the line @echo off, to silently switch off echoing of the commands in the batch file to the console. This ...
19
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1answer
559 views

Was the IBM S/360 Responsible for Popularizating the 'A'-to-'F' Notation in Hexadecimal Numbers?

In the early history of computing before the mid-1960s, there wasn't an universal, de-facto standard for the written representation of a hexadecimal number, different computer systems used their own ...
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8answers
10k views

Why did post-8008 CPUs not keep the on-chip stack idea?

Ken Shirriff writes in his blog entry about the 8008: The 8008's seven registers are in the upper right. In the lower right is the address stack, which consists of eight 14-bit address words. ...
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2answers
524 views

What’s the last x86 CPU that didn’t place a limit on the size of a single instruction?

Although useless, it’s widely known the first Intel and derivative CPUs like the Z80 didn’t set a limit on the instruction size. This means that it was possible to fill the whole RAM/ROM with a single ...
28
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14answers
6k views

History of non-American software/hardware/CS theory development, 1940s-1980s?

I am curious to learn about any developments in computer theory, hardware, and software that took place outside of the United States, in the middle of last century (~1940s-1980s). I have read 'Where ...
9
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2answers
2k views

What was the first preprocessor for a programming language?

A preprocessor is a tool that takes source code as input and outputs a modified version of it for input to a downstream tool, such as a compiler or interpreter. Preprocessors can be used to implement ...
1
vote
1answer
187 views

Is the 1920 CTR Printer-Lister a Ticketograph?

In an answer about screen formats Raffzahn wrote: "In 1920 the Tabulating Machine Company (originally The Hollerith Electric Tabulating System, now part of CTR Holding) introduced a new printer-...
5
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3answers
695 views

What were the Major Public Access Unix Systems Available in the 1980s-90s?

Back in the 1980s-90s, using a UNIX system required running expensive servers or paying for timesharing service, so they were beyond the reach of most individuals, and only available to members in ...
11
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1answer
765 views

Did Nintendo pay WDC for their use of the 65816 core?

When Nintendo used the 6502 core in the NES (as part of the Ricoh 2A03/2A07 microprocessor and sound generator), they circumvented the 6502's patent protection by disabling the BCD arithmetic. As a ...
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3answers
4k views

What happened to the 65832?

In his June 1985 foreword to Programming the 65816 by David Eyes and Ron Lichty, Bill Mensch expresses his hopes for a 6502-derived 32-bit microprocessor: the 65832. WDC is still thriving, but the ‘...
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4answers
3k views

Which are the earliest real-time text editors?

A real-time text editor is a program which facilitates editing text. In the process, the text is displayed on a screen, and the displayed text is updated after each key press. A commonly cited ...
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2answers
422 views

What is the brand and model of this AT chassis case from the early 90s?

A friend is trying find the original brand and model of this old 1990’s generic case. An ad from computershopper would help.
39
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4answers
3k views

What was the design rationale behind multi-port and multiple connections (and back-connections) designs of the early protocols like NFS or FTP?

Originally, the FTP protocol connected back from the server to a client to actually transfer files through that new connections. 14 years later after the introduction of the FTP, the 'passive mode' ...
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7answers
10k views

How exactly did Windows become the OS of the home PC?

As far as I understand it, the whole personal computing revolution that Microsoft Windows did was not entirely by its own design. Is it true that the Windows OS at its core was originally designed to ...
23
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10answers
5k views

Why did the original design of COM on Windows rely on the Registry?

In the early 1990s Microsoft introduced COM (Component Object Model) which was widely used in various programming environments including Visual Basic 5 & 6. Also known as ActiveX (or at least if ...
12
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1answer
693 views

Why do PC DOS kernel files have the COM extension, even though they are not executable as COM files?

The PC DOS kernel is stored in files named IBMBIO.COM and IBMDOS.COM. Although they have the COM extension like executable files, neither of these files could actually be run from the command line, ...
10
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1answer
511 views

How much time and how many people were required to develop Delphi version 1?

I would guess the compiler was primarily a modification of Borland's Turbo Pascal, while the Integrated Development Environment and Visual Component Library required a lot more development from ...
13
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1answer
638 views

Did the Samsung SPC-650 have any hardware or firmware differences to the genuine Sinclair Spectrum+?

There was a clone of the Sinclair Spectrum+ in South Korea called the Samsung SPC-650 that looks identical to original British version with just an extra model number/logo. It even retains the ...
17
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1answer
368 views

What proprietary AT&T code/features were removed in BSD Net1 (/2), and BSD 4.4 Lite (/2) from the original 4.3BSD codebase?

Background Although BSD and its source code was freely available under the original BSD licenses, but it only covered the portion of the code which copyright was owned by Regents of the University of ...
2
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0answers
97 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 ...

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