[LMB] OT: computer catastrophe and recovery

Paula Lieberman paal at gis.net
Sun Jun 15 15:06:26 BST 2008

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Stewart Dean" <sdean7855 at earthlink.net>

> In the last gasp of the IBM Kingston NY site, the powers that were
> opened a IBM technology history museum there which included:
> = a drum memory unit (fore-runner of the Winchester Hard Drive) where
> the head was wound down until you saw sparks, then backed of a scooch.
> = hardware for the SAGE system, the pointless,
> obsolete-before-it-was-complete, StarWars of the 50s anti-bomber defense

a) Ever see any good pictures of Soviet long-range bomber aircraft?  They 
used to go patrolling all the way to the coasts of the USA.  And if it were 
so pointless, why did Canada, a sovereign country, agree to having SAGE/BUIC 
sites on Canadian territory, be tied into it, and have their own defensive 
site at CFS Alert, way up in the frozen Arctic?!  (Frozen Arctic life = see 
the Miles story about being stuck up at the Arctic base, and Aral's 
b) "Star Wars" was a derogatory term invented in the early 1980s by 
the -media-, decades after SAGE/BUIC and long after SAGE/BUIC were replaced 
by the DEWLine and North Warning System...

> system, including a computer rack and the operators terminal complete
> with 'raygun' mouse for selecting target aircraft (a mouse in the '50's)

"'raygun' mouse" ? WTF?   Air traffic control and weapons control consoles 
used trackballs.  "raygun"?  If that's in wikipedia, some clueless wonder 
put that language in.  Computer mice I still consider obscenities, I've 
hated the things for years and it's more reason I despise the influence of 
Mr Jobs on computer systems... I want the Xerox user interface stuff that Mr 
Jobs DIDN'T steal, not the crap he DID steal!

> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semi_Automatic_Ground_Environment
> = wrapped core memory, which was brought back for the Shuttle because
> it's too static (data doesn't go away when power goes off)  and too
> massive to be bothered by cosmic ray hits and the like.  It looks  like

"massive" is a term that is incompatible, very incompatibe, with spacecraft 
electronics.  Space electronics the standard is minimizing the mass.  The 
shuttle happens to be  early1970s technology, actually, "brought back for 
the shuttle" is wrong, the original shuttle computers, again, were early 
1970s technology....  CMOS wasn't really around then, NMOS and PMOS were 
what was being use for nonvolatile memory and as for solid state storage, 
thar required batteries--the shuttle was far earlier than NVRAM/EEPROM in 
any size other than laughable ; CMOS especially some of the more exotic 
formulations with it offer "latch-up resistance" and such against getting 
hard and soft upsets in the microcircuitry.  Gallium arsenide offers more, 
but the joke about gallium arsenide for microcircuits was that it had been 
"the material of the future" for the previous multiple decades.

> little tiny  Livesavers suspended in a 2D grid of wires
> = an old  main frame switch panel...12-15 feet of switches
> ...
> and an IBM  time clock and cheese slicer from the days before 
> computers....

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