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96

'User' and 'customer' aren't the same. The user is the person (always a person) who uses a computer system to do something. The customer is the person or organization who pays for the hardware and software used by the user. The customer can be identical to the user (private or freelance personal computer user). The customer can be the user's boss (...


89

Short Answer: BCD rules over a single byte integer. The claim that programs stored dates as two ASCII or similar characters because computers were limited in resources seems wrong to me The point wasn't about using ASCII or 'similar', using only two decimal digits. That can be two characters (not necessary ASCII) or two BCD digits in a single byte. ...


51

I programmed in Cobol for nearly 20 years at the start of my career and it was quite common to see two digit years used. Initially this was due to storage concerns - not necessarily only memory, but disk storage also. Cobol has no intrinsic date field. It was very common to store dates in Cobol like: 01 EMP-HIRE-DATE. 03 EMP-HIRE-DATE-YY PIC 99. ...


35

The PDP-10 had 'byte instructions' that could process a sequence of bytes of size 1 to 36 bits. The byte pointer was a word containing an 18-bit word address (and the usual index/indirect indications) plus position and size of the byte within the word. It was common to use 7-bit byte sequences for ASCII text, which gave 5 characters per word and one (...


31

The main issue with the 80186 isn’t with the CPU core itself, but with its integrated peripherals: they aren’t compatible with those used in the IBM PC, and they aren’t integrated in the same way either. The IBM PC uses an 8237 DMA controller at offset 0x00 in the I/O address space, an 8259 PIC at offset 0x20, and an 8253 PIT at offset 0x40. The 80186’s ...


27

PIC: 7 bit address space The Microchip PIC family of CPUs specifically the 10, 12 and 16 series have 7 bits of address space. While 7 bits is not exactly 8 bits this shows that there are commercial CPUs still on sale and still widely used that have less than 8 bit address space (they are used for example for power management on some Macs and are the most ...


23

To add to Raffzahn's answer, here's an example from a 1958 book on data processing: … The names of authors are coded in columns 11-14. The first four consonants of the name form the code. The last two digits of the year of the reference are punched directly into columns 15-16. The journal, or other source for the reference, is coded in columns 17-20. … (...


22

TL;DR: User simply coins what is it about, the generic usage of something - differentiating it from any other role. And let's be honest, a computer is such a generic device, that it's use can be manyfold - from typist to gamer and accountant to engineer. So any more specific name would miss out other practices. In Detail: Notably, the term does make ...


19

The KENBAK-1 has 256 bytes of memory. I'm not certain whether it had an 8-bit PC. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenbak-1


17

Full disclosure: I worked on the x87 FPU of a 486-class CPU at a math-coprocessor company in the early 1990s and thereafter worked at AMD, where I was on the 3DNow! design team and the design team for the FPU of the AMD Athlon processor (also known as K7). The x87 FPU never acquired a flush-to-zero mode. In fact, denormal support was one of the major ...


14

The VT52 text terminal certainly doesn't qualify as a full computer, but it does have a processor running software out of a ROM. The RAM holding the displayed text is 2048 7-bit bytes. The character generator ROM is also 7 bits wide.


13

But was there anything other than video that was a source of hardware compatibility issues in the first wave? Or put another way: after video, what was the second most common source of compatibility issues for the semi-compatible DOS machines of the first wave? On the software side I'd say sound may lead a tiny bit before any other hardware device - then ...


12

There are actually still RTC chips on the market which store the year only as a pair of BCD digits, and do not have a century field. These are usually packed into one byte when read, in common with the fields for day-of-month, month-of-year, hour, minute, and second. The same format is used for the alarm settings. Old software using these chips would ...


12

Customers buy things. Users just use them. The term 'user' arose in the days of the mainframe computer where many users connect to a single computer, often using the same shared terminals during the day. The individuals need tracking so 'users' and 'user accounts' were eventually born. The notion of others in the workplace being called 'customers' was a ...


12

The first that comes to mind is Cypress' M8C core used in the PSOC-1 series. While it has a 16 bit program address space (and thus 16 bit jump instructions), its data as well as the register space are each strictly 8 bit. Implementations do use up to two sets of 256 registers and may offer several sets of 256 Byte banks. From the manual: The M8C is an 8-bit ...


10

The term "computer user" is analogous to "automobile driver". (It is an even better fit, because "driver" specifically excludes passengers.) Many people, in many cases most, who use computer hardware or software are not the purchasers, customers, operators, programmers, administrators, or gamers. I can think of no better term for "user" which encompasses ...


10

Aspects I recall, perhaps influenced by the area I was working in at the time: Video display (as you mention) Serial ports Timer interrupt I only had to work with "near-compatible" machines a few times before everything went to "100% compatible" for most hardware interfaces.


9

The word "user" was applied to operators of word processing and office equipment well before computers were commonplace. Google Books reveals citations back to the 1890s for "typewriter user." Manufacturers appeared to use this terminology as well, such as in this Remington ad from 1920: "Today, as always, the typewriter user who ...


8

Another point that hasn't yet been mentioned is that many programs would store data in whatever format it was keyed in. If data was stored as six digits YYMMDD, that's what data-entry clerks would be expected to type. For a program to store data as YYYYMMDD, it would be necessary to either have clerks enter an extra two digits per record, or have software ...


8

I worked with IBM minicomputers (S/36, S/38, and AS/400) in the 1980s and 1990s. The very ugly programming language RPG was popular. It looked very different from Cobol but had similar abilities. It supported only two data types: fixed length alphanumeric and fixed precision decimal numeric. The numeric variables could be zoned which meant one digit per ...


8

While it's hard to come by numbers, there are several non clone candidates that sold quite well: Sirius 1/Victor 9000 1981-1984- Outsold the IBM-PC in Europe by far not at least due better hardware and a headstart of almost a year. It got screwed by company politics in the US ignoring the European success. Sanyo MBC-550 1982-1986 Siemens PC-D 1982-1986 NEC ...


8

Not strictly an answer, but there were some early computers with very limited addressing. The Harwell Dekatron computer, which operated entirely in decimal, had an address space of 100 words, of which 90 were RAM and the other 10 were devices. Programs were usually run directly from a paper tape device (for which the tape, rather than the PC register, was ...


7

The mainframes have been covered. Let's look at what led up to the PC which of course is where a lot of business software evolved. Many PC programmers had previously been programmers for 8-bit systems, and had grown up on the "every cycle counts" mentality. Many programs for MS-DOS had ports for older 8-bit systems, too, so would have often ...


7

Additional examples: In banking, many computations have historically used binary-coded decimal (BCD) as a compromise between space, speed, and consistent rounding rules. Floating point was uncommon, slow, and difficult to round off consistently. So even things like interest rates might be stored in fixed-point BCD. Something like an interest rate might ...


7

Back in olden times (1960s and earlier), when data came on Hollerith cards (80 columns, 12 rows), using 2 extra columns (of the 80 available) to store the fixed string "19" as part of a date seemed useless. Having more than 80 columns of data meant that one had to use multiple cards, and lost several columns to the overhead needed to say "I'm ...


7

Microsoft Word did I distinctly remember looking into the binary .doc format used by Microsoft Word 5.0 for DOS, because documents saved when the year was after 1999 couldn't be opened again. It turned out that the internal meta-data included the date using two ASCII digits for the year and 2000 was blindly stored as 100, thus overwriting one byte of an ...


6

Even systems that stored the year as a byte often just printed "19" in front of the value. So the year 2000 (stored as 100) would be printed as 19100 or 1910 or 1900 depending on exactly how the number was converted from a byte to printable characters. Of course a lot of systems didn't even both printing the 19, they just printed 100/01/01 or 00/01/...


6

The NORAD Two Line Element format remains in wide use for cataloging satellite orbits. Originally intended for punched cards, it uses a two character year. Years <57 are defined to be in the 21st century. It may be supplanted soon, though. The immediate problem is not years, but the number of trackable objects in orbit.


6

It is one of the terms used originally to distinguish between the various roles involved in the creation and use of hardware and software. As a term it probably made much more sense in the days of room-sized mainframes where everyone had a lab coat on.


6

You may not remember the enormous market share that IBM occupied in the business computing space in the 20th century. I don't mean just the mainframe market where S/360, S/370, S/390 & their successors play, but also the much larger (in terms of units) midrange/small business market occupied by the S/3, S/32, S/34, S/36, S/38, AS/400, and their ...


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