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59

Short answer: in the 1960s, NASA was buying and testing large numbers of integrated circuits (most of which would never be used) to make the technology mature. According to FastCompany: The MIT Instrumentation Lab tried to design the Apollo computer using transistors, which in the early 1960s were well-settled technology—reliable, understandable, ...


45

When did computers stop checking memory on boot? Never. I remember my old 8088 used to do this (640K OK) but can't remember seeing anything like this since. Does this still happen and it's just not visible? Exactly. And it has been simplified and speed up as well. But more important, it's usually hidden under some manufacturer boot logo or whatsoever ...


44

After some more research, I believe I've stumbled across the real answer: The VIC-II and SID used a larger process node size because Commodore's fabrication line circa 1981 was uniquely positioned produce chips at that size at effectively no production cost whatsoever. Based on what I've read, here's my best guess at what Commodore's fabrication situation ...


21

Edit: as Darrel Hoffman points out, the title question is false; the proper statement is that 60% of the U.S. IC production went to the Apollo Guidance Computer. (Other countries were also producing ICs, e.g. Ferranti's MicroNOR IC (1961) for the British Navy.) The claim that 60% of US ICs went to the AGC is found in the book Journey to the Moon by Eldon ...


20

The first LISP compiler was implemented very early in the life of the first LISP, LISP I for the IBM 704. The LISP I Compiler From the LISP I Programmer's Manual (March 1, 1960) section 4.2, "Definitions of Functions in LISP" In Chapter 2 functions are connected to their names only through the use of the form LABEL. In the current LISP system, there ...


16

IPSE = Integrated Project Support Environment (or Integrated Programming Support Environment ASPE = Ada Programming Support Environment FRIPSE = Formal Reasoning Integrated Programming Support Environment GRIPSE = Graphical Integrated Programming Support Environment Keep in mind, Dijkstra's rant is about the formal programming hype of the late ...


15

In short, 3 µm looks like it was available at the time, The questions are rather: to whom it was available and is it worth the investment. Processes aren't anything you'd buy from some supplier but develop in house. The fact that Intel got a 3 µm process does not translate to any other manufacturer being able to do so and more important doing so. ...


10

The DDR4 spec actually includes a RAM tuning test, to be performed at boot time, as part of supporting today's multi-gigahertz signalling speeds on a consumer-priced motherboard. This accounts for the several seconds that often elapses between the machine powering up and the graphics output coming alive; the GPU is only initialised after this initial RAM ...


8

On Jan 7, 2012, Dave Ottalini, Washington Apple Pi Apple III SIG Chair, announced on the Facebook Apple /// Enthusiasts group that their Apple /// DVD, which formerly sold for $35, is now reclassified as public domain This is now on archive.org: https://archive.org/details/dvdrom-wap-apple3 Notable in this collection (which you can browse) is some Q&A ...


8

I think that this question can be answered in a more general "why use a particular semiconductor process for a particular chip" way. Even today not all chips are made using the latest process. Choosing a process is all about tradeoffs. Rough outline: The more advanced (smaller) process the higher the mask costs (so you don't use a more advanced process ...


7

IPSE stands for "Integrated Project Support Environment"; this was one of a series of names given to projects related to using theorm proving in software engineering. Wikipedia has a brief blurb on it, but this Chilton Computing page offers more detail and probably gives a better sense of what it is and what it does. FRIPSE and GRIPSE were related (FR ...


6

In 1968 or so the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory, with several hundred terminals and at least four "host" computers (running applications), all communicating via a central PDP-6, decided to move to a distributed networking system with more direct connections between the computers, the PDP-8 terminal concentrators and peripheral systems. This was documented in ...


6

To add to the already good answers: according to the book Digital Apollo (which also cites the 60% number), that AGC consumed such a large percent of the world market was intentional and strategic decision on NASA's part, as a way to both influence the design of the ICs they bought and to ensure that the supplier would stay in business: Only one company, ...


6

LOGO was intimately tied up with research into educational methods, and in teaching children how to use computers. The project proposal by Seymour Papert mentions "research on children's thinking and elementary education". Further LOGO memos are found here. The question remains is, is this what the language was "originally" for, or was the language co-...


5

I had an Apple III on my desk at Apple, and IIRC, Dan Kottke, who was working at a lab bench near mine, told me to try this if the III started acting flakey. Then later, he found another solution (forget what that was). Instead, I would periodically open the case and press the chips and connectors fully back into their sockets. Sometime I would feel/hear ...


5

The way I interpret Bob Metcalfe's words in this interview, the Xerox team used a Data General local area network prior to the work on the Alto, for which Ethernet was invented. And we started working on this personal computer and I started working on how to network them together. And the predecessor system that we had also built used Nova 800s, a ...


4

Unix and UNIX are different stylizations of the same group of operating systems. It was originally styled as UNIX, and many variations use UNIX as the trademark. Using either styles for all Unix operating systems in general is correct, but you can not claim that a specific version of Unix is named UNIX unless the current or past trademark holders (currently ...


4

Knuth was at CalTech before moving to Stanford in 1968 and continued consulting with Burroughs until that time. As ShreevatsaR mentions, he worked on an Algol-58 compiler for the Burroughs 205 (1954), which was a decimal, drum-memory, vacuum tube system with a 143KHz clock rate, 11-digit words (10 plus sign), and sequential, digit-by-digit arithmetic. ...


3

Certainly not before standards for RAM enumeration (SPD serial presence detect) were introduced (with the SDRAM 168pin form factor). Earlier systems needed the memory check to established what memory was actually installed, and at which addresses (especially since there could even be discontigous configurations with some even earlier, expansion board based ...


3

...It just seemed to disappear! Certainly my old 486-100 had it. I think it's no longer done, as a result of reliable RAM, and the vast amounts of RAM now fitted. This machine has 8GB, a little tight by modern standards. My 486 started off with 4MB, and finally ended up with I think 24MB. Of course, RAM and CPUs have got faster since then, partly making up ...


3

This appears to be quite plausible because until 1964 integrated circuits were expensive and unpopular. Leslie Berlin covers the early history of Fairchild in ICs in The Man Behind the Microchip: Robert Noyce and the Invention of Silicon Valley, from which the following quotes are taken. Fairchild introduced Micrologic in 1961 and attracted a lot of ...


2

If you examine the cartridges produced during the active life of 8-bit computers, then first of all you need to look at the Japanese and MSX. One-, two-, three-megabit cartridges with mappers were produced in rather large editions - in general, the picture was similar to the one that Sega had for the Master System. Megabit ROM Cartridges


2

As Raffzahn points out, because memory can be bank-switched in the address space available to cartridges, the maximum size is limited only by the intersection between the technology available and how expensive and physically large you're willing to make the cartridge, and how you're willing to power it. Nonetheless, you're probably thinking of cartridges of ...


2

I have my doubts Nintendo ever intended to use the 68000 for the SNES. It sounds like the plan was to use the 65816 from the start for attempted backwards compatibility and also include the DSP1 (used in games like Pilotwings and Super Mario Kart) on the motherboard to speed up certain calculations.


2

TLDR: TECO uses single-character commands. When extending TECO to add registers to store numeric values, there was a limited set of unused characters left for the commands associated with this functionality. q was chosen as one of these command characters because it could serve as a mnemonic for "quantity." This led to the numeric registers being called "Q-...


2

According to Wikipedia: Logo, second paragraph fragment The language was conceived to teach concepts of programming related to Lisp and only later to enable what Papert called "body-syntonic reasoning", where students could understand, predict, and reason about the turtle's motion by imagining what they would do if they were the turtle.


1

I can't speak to the original question, but similar issues/solutions are well known. I had an Atari ST with socketed ROMs. They would periodically work their way out due to heat causing the mobo to flex. This was periodically solved by the "Atari twist", which would reset them sometimes, or simply dropping the machine. These would eventually stop working ...


1

The CBM900 came before PC10, the prototypes were sent out early 1984 (I started in Commodore Denmark on august 1st 1984 with half the job being supporting the CBM900). I belive we got the first PC10 prototypes in early 1985, but they were embargoed because the BIOS was too identical to IBM's for legal comfort. The 900 were designed in US, but the ...


1

All the various LISP 1.5 systems (on the IBM 7090 and otherwise) appears always to have used only PLUS, DIFFERENCE, MINUS (unary), etc. (§4.2 p.25) Its small derivative PDP-1 LISP (1964) also did as well (§2 p.3 Table 1, though I don't know what happened to DIFFERENCE.) LISP 2, discussed extensively in the early '60s but never implemented, did use symbols ...


1

The answer is in your question: "By the early 90s, the earliest successful expert systems, such as XCON, proved too expensive to maintain. They were difficult to update, they could not learn, they were "brittle" (i.e., they could make grotesque mistakes when given unusual inputs), and they fell prey to problems (such as the qualification problem) that had ...


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