20 total posts
When I was in college
I remember taking a circular slide rule to the grocery store to get the price per unit to see what was cheaper. The circular slide rule would fit into my purse.
Yeah, but you
couldn't show off that way.
The movie influence...
I remember old sci-fi movies that had computers in them. Depending on when the movie was made was the typical insight to what a computer was back them. Sometimes they had real computers being shown to solve a problem but usually a "prop" of some sort was used and even those were huge to include the whirling tapes, blinking lights, tic-tac of the printer and speed of the punch cards being used. Wow, is right. But as real computers got better and smaller they seem to replace or had a more active role in movie use either being displayed or used for production. Now, real computers do fit in your pocket and they can a mimic of themselves as they reflect just what the movies tried to warrant like the flat pieces of plastic used in OST to become floppies or even memory cards/sticks now. The flash drive is an example of the "crystal" or glass object that stored data and had no moving parts, just like a flash drive today. The PDA is the on belt item that survey parties used to check the area, well a PDA can't do that but it can call home, take pics, record some data, and using some apps. provide some quick answers.
One of favorite movie computers was found in a B&W sci-fi movie with aliens attacking Washington, DC. Forget name of movie but the computer used was a "mechanical monster"(real computer) that wrote the results out. It filled a room and had military types fiddling with it to keep it going. I'm sure that was file film footage but few tubes were used. The whirling of small wheels and gears must have deafen a tech back then. -----Willy
They weren't that noisy
The only things that really made noise were the printers. Sometimes you could get a real dancible rhythm out of them.
Yep...those very fast line printers
Put them on a flimsy wire stand and they'd do the shimmy while printing.
Printers of olde
I used to fix some older printers. When with Burroughs, I fixed a giant that printed those govt. checks. You know the ones that may have wavy up&down text due to wear&tear. One half was electronics and the other the mechanical printer part, literally. When the electronics broke, pull the "module" out and replace. A module now would be an IC chip for sure. Discrete components and repairable in the field if it had to be, otherwise ship back. It was build like a tank and made all sorts of noise once the cover was pulled/open. Though, it was tolerable it wasn't nothing like the later printers whose noise was strictly the paper being tapped on. I think one of the noisiest printers was Diablo 630 that tap, tap away one character at a time. Try t fix that over a period of time and not be effected. -----Willy
Would these be the drum types?
I remember some that had embossed characters on a drum that ran the full length of the page. The drum would spin constantly and a line of individual hammers would strike the top of the paper. A code disk determined where the print drum was and the paper was chemically impregnated to make the characters appear by some method of magic. I worked on some small ones of this type long ago. They sounded more like a chorus of small woodpeckers. Mostly the problems were dust from the paper that would clog the hammer array. We had a card punch printer with a keyboard console while I was in the AF that I could not figure out. Somehow a light beam shined from one side of the keyboard to the other. They keys had coded drillings on some sort of a flat black bar that passed the light to receiving diodes of some sort. This was not a job for a steno with fast fingers. It was slow and tedious. We only had a couple in the comm center. Neither broke while I was there so I never got to rip into them.
Yes, drum type
I've worked on just about all sorts of printers. The drum printed a one line at a time and made a "dizzle sound" as if bees landed there or a hard pat-pat noise. There are single wheel like a drum but only 1 row(wheel) and band printer, IBM ball type, and daisy wheel, dot matrix (needles) and last the inkjet/laserjet, wet or dry(wax) and thermal, etc. I'm sure there are more, but I forget, forget. duh!, what is the question.
What peeves me are users that were used to heavy duty printers stuck with dot matrix trying to output a billion pages and expect it to last. Meaning a simple PC printer is not a "line printer". I've seen laser printers so abused as if they expect them to print a book at a time, jeezzzz what a PITA. -----Willy
Good point. AIR, "line printer" meant
'heaviest duty applications'.
How were you at "re-threading" dot matrix and typeball wires back through their guides? I never had the patience.
Had to pay the rent
Worked at a "refurb/rebuild" shop for a big co. at the time. They had a shop that did all that we just sorted them out the bad ones and they rebuild. Of course, we could fine tune some matrix printers. Even worked on older true Centronics printer build like a brick crap house. We had the parts to rebuild printheads if we wanted, but why do that on a constant basis. We refurbed printers to get them out the door as they're cheaper compared to new and had a constant demand for them.
Another job, we refurb/rebuild the goof ball(IBM ball) type and what a pain. The OJT on that was repeated a few times before I got the hang of that. You might have seen those printers at the bank, used as saving bank books were printed to yrs. ago. The size of the contraption was about that of small student refrigerator. Again, it wasn't patience but rather the hassle of not having to repeat the process as it was hard on the fingers. Nowadays all that is done by a little dot matrix printer like those found on caluators and cash registers, jeeez they've gotten small. -----Willy
Weird stuff. The "drum" type you describe
sounds like plastic band type, with two or more character sets mounted on it. The band turned at a constant high speed, and was stopped very briefly when the proper character came under the hammer. No carriage necessary, because the computer kept track also of the column position for the next character. It was the best technology available then and was used in high-output, 150-character-wide applications.
When the plastic band reached the end of its working life, it signaled by breaking catastrophically and wrapping itself around other parts.
Don't get us old men started <b>...</b>
Willy's post just reminded me
that there was a "drum type". Like a typeball, but two-dimensional, so to speak. It was very hard use of available metallurgy, since I remember the chief mode of failure being a shattering of the drum.
Explains many of your posts.
Puncuated by the CR-LF.
"So, what do you think, Dr. Von Neumann?"
"Hmmm ... Got a beat, you can dance to it- I give it an 85."
I believe any computer can be built
with only mechanical parts- but you wouldn't want to.
In today's movies especially the keyboards always use an old-fashioned IMO "click" sound, so the viewer knows what's going on. A bigger "problem" is that the screen updates slowly enough so the viewer can keep up, if that's necessary to the story line. That's so even thought most operators are touch typists. Again, it's a small suspension of belief, and it keeps the story moving the plot along.
Remember the Robert Redford hacker movie? He and Ben Kingsley were sitting on the famous 'backless sofa' of the Cray-1, which WAS the Cray-1! I believe there was no explanation of that in the script.
I read that the keys are in a certain order
to slow the typists down because they were getting the hammers tangled by typing too fast.
Yep, the original typewriters had various
key arrangements that were "logical", with often-used keys under the strongest fingers. The early mechanisms couldn't keep up, so we're all forced to use the configuration devised by Prof Qwerty.
I think the modern "fast" layout is called Dvorak, but
I'd have to Czech on that.
The real Difference Engine was finally constructed during
the 90's at the Science Museum in "sunny South Kensington" right across the road from the Museum of Natural History. To boot it it requires a source of power, either an electric motor of substantial power, or a steam engine. It was on the ground floor with the steam engines, but it should now be on the third floor.
I must say the Science Museum, while smaller, is very reminiscent of the Smithsonian. There are extraordinary things saved there, several James Watt steam engines, and the electric floor, and my personal favourite the floor with the aircraft on it. A cut open V1 hanging to display its interior details, a Messerschmitt 163 Rocket powered fighter and my personal favourite, the Supermarine S6b designed by R.J.Mitchell that won the Schneider Trophy for the third time in ?1931 raised the overall air speed limit to about 410 mph, even with those great big floats, and helped Rolls Royce figure out how to make the Merlin engine and preceded the design of the Supermarine Spitfire also by R.J.Mitchell. Oh, yeah. And the Schneider Trophy itself.
I think there's a not-very-useful reference
to the Difference Engine in my original link. Also, someone's (Watt's?) comment about the use of steam.