Archive for the ‘humor’ Category

The Computer Museum Moved and I Didn’t Notice

August 5, 2008

In the early 1990s I was working as a programmer for the Free Software Foundation, mostly remotely from Maryland but I’d go up to Cambridge, MA for a week every so often to work face to face with people. One highlight from those trips was visiting the Computer Museum. Besides the exhibits, one thing I enjoyed was in a side room they had a Sun workstation you could see through a window. I’m not sure what it did, either helped run exhibits or provide networking for the staff. When I was there, the screen was in text mode scrolling, I think, “le0: No carrier”. So I felt right at home; it was just like at the University of Maryland.

Around the middle of the museum was the exhibit on computers of the 1980s, which had an endless loop of part of MC Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This” playing through a speaker to set the mood. If you started to get disoriented in the exhibits, you could just head toward the rap music to find your bearings.

In October, 2006 I went back to the Boston area for my brother’s wedding, and found that the Computer Museum doesn’t exist any more. Some of its exhibits are in the Boston Museum of Science next to the Hall of Electricity. That includes parts of a huge mock-up PC. My wife took my picture standing in front of a giant Adaptec AHA-2940 SCSI controller card on the wall. I still had a couple of those cards then; one was in a Linux PC driving a Plextor CD-ROM which I used for digital audio extraction until I switched mainly to a Mac in January, 2006.

 

Then I stumbled on a video of an hour-long talk of recollections by Woz. It was posted by the Computer History Museum, and the introducer, Len Shustick, says “I’m always surprised at the number of people who knew about the Computer Museum in Boston… and who don’t know that it no longer exists…. We are its reincarnation, and starting in 1996 we filled up tractor trailers and moved them west….” I provide anecdotal support for that comment!

It’s interesting that they reopened in Mountain View, CA, where I worked the next summer in 1993 at Cygnus after my time with the FSF.

A Pragmatic Decision

August 5, 2008

(The following appears in the March 1988 UNIX Review magazine, in a comparative review of C compilers. The version of gcc that they tested in the article was 1.17, but you can still find the code they mention in gcc 1.40, in cccp.c.)

GCC’s early handling of the ANSI #pragma construct is perhaps worth noting at this point. Compiler writers are at liberty to deal with #pragma as they see fit. Paul Rubin, in a bit of whimsy, chose to start running the Tower-of-Hanoi game under emacs. Where this was impossible, a session of the hack game was attempted. Failing that, a rogue session was attempted. When all of these efforts failed, the compiler printed the error message: “You are in a maze of twisty compiler features, all different”.

More recent versions of GCC have this code disabled, however, and #pragma directives now are simply ignored. The original code is still distributed, though, for those who prefer it.

I/O Deja Vu

August 5, 2008
From dcn@cbnewsd.ATT.COM Fri May  4 13:48:27 1990
From: dcn@cbnewsd.ATT.COM (david.c.newkirk)
Newsgroups: alt.folklore.computers
Subject: How Virtual Memory Really Works (or Doesn't Work...)
Keywords: I/O Deja Vu from old Creative Computing
Date: 4 May 90 14:06:04 GMT
Organization: AT&T Bell Laboratories

The recent posting about the Thing King reminded me of a similar parody in
an old Creative Computing magazine - enjoy!


		I/O Deja Vu - A Farce in One Act
		--------------------------------

IBOX:	Hello, CACHE? I'd like the data for location 54321.

CACHE:	I'm sorry sir.  I don't have that data.  Just a moment and I'll
	try to get it for you.

CACHE:	Hello, MAP?  I need the address for location 54321.

MAP:	I don't have that address, sir.  That address is stored at location
	76543.  Just a moment and I'll try to get it for you.  Hello, I/O
	control? I need the data from location 76543.

I/O:	Just a moment.  I'll try to get it.  Hello, CACHE?  I need the data
	from location 76543.

CACHE:	I don't seem to have that data, and I'm not about to get it.

I/O:	Hello, MAP?  What is the address for location 76543?

MAP:	That address is 222543.

I/O:	Hello, CORE?  What is the data at 222543?

CORE:	That data is INDIRECT PAGE TABLE 21, PAGE 44.

I/O:	Hello, MAP?  That data you wanted is INDIRECT PAGE TABLE 21, PAGE 44.

MAP:	Fine.  Now I need INDIRECT PAGE TABLE ENTRY 21.  That would be
	stored at location 556.  Would you get me the data at 556?

I/O:	I'll try. Hello, CACHE?  I need the data from location 556.

CACHE:	That data is 6767.

I/O:	Hello, MAP?  That data you wanted is 6767.

MAP:	Good.  Now, let's see.  6767 plus 44 is 7033.  Now, get me the data
	at 7033.

I/O:	Hold on.  Hello, CACHE?  I need the data from location 7033.

CACHE:	I'm sorry.  I don't have that data.  You'll have to get it from CORE.

I/O:	Hello, MAP?  I need the address for location 7033.

MAP:	I'm sorry.  I don't seem to have that address. I'll try to get it,
	but I'll probably forget what I was doing before, so you might as
	well too.

MAP:	Hello, I/O?  I'm trying to get the address for 7033. That data should
	be stored at location 112233.  Would you try to get me that data?

I/O:	(sigh)  I'll try.  Hello, CACHE?  I need the data from location 112233.

CACHE:	That data is 4242.

I/O:	Hello, MAP?  That data you wanted is 4242.

MAP:	I'll store that away. HEY IBOX, I just stored something.

IBOX:	Hello, CACHE?  I'd like the data for location 54321.

CACHE:	I'm sorry sir.  I don't have that data.  Just a moment and I'll try...
-- 
				Dave Newkirk, att!ihlpm!dcn