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7

TL;DR: ALFA is a predefined machine specific type (like all Pascal types), that happens to be 10 on CDC 6600, but may have any other value on other machines. ALFA has been added to allow machine specific character handling - the same way the keyword packed was added for the 6600 for this purpose. Without this storage would not only be rather wasteful, but ...


6

Before Pascal, there was Algol 68, which includes the data types bits and bytes, fixed-length array-like entities holding bool values or char values respectively, and which were expected to be implemented 'efficiently', i.e., probably as one machine word. (Naturally, long bits and long bytes were possible, at the implementor's discretion) Wirth was, of ...


8

For the origin of fixed size pages, and independently mapped pages, you need to go back at least as far as the Manchester Atlas machine of 1962. A historical perspective of both the Atlas ad the earlier Mark I can be found here. In that article it mentions that Atlas memory was divided into fixed size pages of 512 words each. The idea of separating virtual ...


10

That date is 2**32 30Hz ticks since the modern Unix epoch: $ perl -E 'say scalar gmtime(2**32 / 30)' Tue Jul 16 00:12:56 1974


3

The Atlas (Manchester University/Ferranti, started ~1958, in service 1962) used pre-formatted addressable tapes. The tape mechanism used on Atlas is the Ampex TM2 (improved FR 300) using one inch wide magnetic tape. There are sixteen tracks across the tape - twelve information tracks, two clock tracks, and two tracks used for reference purposes. The tapes ...


4

This depends quite on the value of the 'minimum 128KB as shipped' footnote. For the Apple II, it was possible in 1983 to order a IIe with 64 or 128 KiB, but it wasn't until the IIc in 1984 that these 128 KiB were soldered in. Even the very last IIe, the Platimum, which was sold only with 128 KiB, had them factory installed as a (then very small) card in the ...


13

Soviet: ES PEVM (IBM PC clone) - 1986 Okean-240 (128 KB, Intel 8080 class) - 1986 UKNC (192 KB, PDP-11 class) - 1987 DVK-3M (248 KB, PDP-11 class) - 1987 Korvet (112-256 KB, Intel 8080 class) - 1987 BK-0011 (128 KB, PDP-11 class) - 1989 Poisk (IBM PC clone) - 1989 Iskra-1030 (IBM PC clone) - 1989 Agat (Apple clone) - 1989 Bashkiria-2M (128 KB, ...


24

The Apple III came with a minimum of 128K of RAM (expandable to 512K) two years before Commodore had a series of CBM-II computers with 128K minimum and expandable to 896K in 1982 a year before the IBM PC XT and 2 years before the Apple Macintosh and IIc. The IBM PC had 64K minimum. 1980: Apple III 1982: Commodore CBM-II 500 / 600 / 700 Series 1983: IBM PC ...


2

An observation I have made recently is that only things which involve a lot of material have a natural bottom price. A washing machine weighs 100 pounds, a car weighs 2000, a house 200,000 (or whatever). People have to dig coal and ore out of the earth, make steel, fell trees, truck it to processing plants etc. No amount of automation or technological ...


19

There are several interviews with Masayuki Uemura (the creator of the familiy computer) online that contain a section about the name “family computer”. Many publications seem to be copied from each other, making it hard to find a definitive source. The following is taken from soranews24 dated April 2013: The name “Family Computer” was chosen by Uemura ...


1

For the same reason as: CPUs increasing in frequency from sub-MHz to multi-GHz CPUs increasing in number of cores from a single core to several dozen Hard disk drives increasing in capacity from a few MB to several TB Modems increasing in speed from a few hundred bit/s to gigabits/s Wi-Fi increasing in speed from 2 Mbit/s to gigabits/s Ethernet increasing ...


56

But why was it given an English name in Japan Foreign Branding is a common marketing strategy to give a product a more distinguished name. Think 'Häagen-Dazs', a fantasy name with some Nordic 'flair' created in the US by a Polish Immigrant), or like French named 'Au Bon Pain' can be found in many US malls, but not anywhere in Europe. Oh, and then there is ...


4

Since the invention of ICs, computer memory size has been gated by Rock's law, or Moore's second law. At any point in time, no one could afford the rapidly growing costs (now many $billions USD) it took to build the more advanced semiconductor fab lines that are required for smaller lithography higher density memories, until the market grew enough, and ...


5

The brief answer to the question is we watched the evolution of computer technology from computers that filled a room and cannot hold a candle to a watch we can wear on our wrist. You might as well ask why we didn't have cars that could do 200 mph back in 1900. Part of the answer to your question is R&D the other part is paying for that R&D. Remember ...


7

On my windowsill, I've got (roughly) 2K bits of core memory in a picture frame. According to an engineering manager it was assembled by Philippina seamstresses, and they were able to do it for about three years before their eyesight failed. He sounded smug rather than horrified. Each core, representing one bit, has four wires threaded through it. If we ...


14

Didn't people living at that time feel sudden reductions in size/availability as technologies evolved? And if they didn't, why wasn't there a "jump" in memory availability when technology reached a certain state? Yes - except that since it happened on an annual basis, we got used to having jump after jump after jump in technological capability. It ...


13

I think that both PathMinder and Bourbaki’s 1dir predate your examples, but I don’t know if they are the first DOS-specific dual-pane file managers. PathMinder was first published in 1984, 1dir (pronounced “wonder”) in 1983. 1dir didn’t always show two panes listing files; it only did so when copying files, and I’m not sure whether it did so in its initial ...


26

I'm mostly concerned about RAM. Why was it so expensive? It wasn't - at least not once integrated circuit RAM became available in the 1970s. Compared to other chips, RAM was cheaper both per transistor and per package. Some example prices:- From an advert in Byte magazine issue #1 (Sept 1975) 8080 CPU: (4,500 transistors) $149.95 = $33 per thousand ...


43

As noted in some initial comments (but I feel fine answering, as I had the exact same ideas when I read the question), this is a general progression of technology but there are two very specific factors for RAM: Core Memory -> Integrated Circuits While many different, very expensive, systems were used in the first computers, including mercury delay lines, ...


2

The earliest contender I can find is the Friden Flexowriter, from 1958. It was an electric typewriter with an attached paper tape reader and punch. You can see a video here. This is a restored Flexowriter, but the visible sign lists 1958 as the year it was presumably built. As you can see, this particular model uses 8 channel tape. The Flexowriter would ...


14

TL;DR: 5 hole (*1) tapes were developed as part of Murray's teletype system, the first (successful) to use typewriter keyboards as well as punch tapes. Wider (more holes) paper tapes are compatible enhancements thereof. There is no sole 'inventor' per se, as the 8 (+1) hole punch with fixed width tape of 1 inch is the logical extension of existing 5 hole ...


1

In the USSR there were produced a lot of clones of PDP-11, some of them more exact and some of them much less. As should be expected, the most of them ran variants of RT-11 operating system. Since those computers were widely used in schools, RT-11 was perhaps the most popular operating system for PDP-11 clones. But if we consider home computers, the ...


-1

I have a problem that might be related. I tested a double precision coordinate transformation algorithm in 1996 on a Borland Turbo C 3.0 compiler on a 486 PC and used constants with 17 digits. Recently, when I converted it to Fortran and ran it on an Intel Fortran compiler using Microsoft Visual Studio on a 64-bit Quadcore CPU, the accuracy is less. Did ...


4

It's worth pointing out that the original high-level programming language for the Primos operating system (and its tools, I believe) was FORTRAN. Yes! Really! Naturally there was assembler involved as well, but much of the O/S was written in FORTRAN. Later on code was added using the PL/P variant of PL/1. For later tools/utilities, the SPL language - another ...


2

Assembler is a high-level language, when you spend months doing the thing in raw octal code. Grace Hopper introduced the nice mnemonics for assembler etc. Raw binary requires you to be aware of individual positions of routines, rather than jump to a label. BASIC followed that idea, but there you were free to use unused numbers in the code.


10

In 1985, Commodore was rushing to get the Amiga to market so it could compete with the just-released Atari 520ST. As a way to accelerate the software development, Commodore hired Bristol-based MetaComCo to make a port of their OS (known as TRIPOS) to the Amiga. TRIPOS, which had already been ported to the Motorola 68000, was written in BCPL (see source code)....


26

A good candidate might be PL/I (Programming Language One). An Algol based language developed by IBM in 1964, mainly for use with their new /360 mainframes. While full PL/I was quite feature rich, some of its dialects allowed to restrict or removed features to allow more direct code control and removal of runtime utilities. PL/I and its dialects have been ...


11

I have access to the file RMS; VMS 7 dated 1980-07-12. I can't make it public, but I can read it and I believe it's ok for me to paraphrase and summarize it. RMS argues VMS lacks several important features, and suggest he fix it by adding them himself, working together with a VMS expert he names. The feature list is: Access to multiple processes for users....


4

A Google search turned up no sign of that file. I'd be surprised if a search would turn up anything as RMS;VMS indicates a local file on his account on a machine called MIT-AI. Likewise a reply to this file was located at RWK;VMS on the same machine, so it's been an internal exchange at the MIT AI lab. This is very early Usenet. I would be interested in ...


7

It may be impossible to give a simple answer, as a design is influenced by many parameters. Complexity (and thus price) might being one A notable difference between these three games are the number of digits displayed, which goes direct into circuit complexity. Pong has two 1.5 digit counters (0..15) (*1) Speed Race has two 3 digit counters Breakout has ...


2

General Instruments produced a chip which would form the basis of a Pong-style video game with the addition of, if memory serves, one or two transistors, some resistors and capacitors, switches, two or four controller potentiometers, a trim pot to adjust RF output frequency, and an optional light gun. A secondary chip and 3.5797545MHz crystal could be added ...


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