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Xilinx FPGA - my latest endeavor is to design a computer on an FPGA
IBM 082 Sorter - my first job was running one of these.
Punched Card
Card Punch 029
ASR-33 teletype - terrible photo, but brings back fond memories

I mostly comment about computer subjects... I finally got around to creating an account, but have previously done a lot of anonymous posting... mostly just didn't want to be bothered with account creation etc..

I have been involved with computers since the days of Punched Cards and Paper Tape. I have done everything from entering programs written in hand coded binary on a front panel to designing FPGA circuits, and my most recent project is the design of a computer programming language. I have also done such things as write Web Servers and Email Servers and even a DNS Server.

In short, it would be safe to say that I have a considerable amount of expert knowledge on the subject of computers (hardware, software, networks) and that furthermore I witnessed a lot of history first-hand, for instance I was present at the grand opening of the first retail computer store in Seattle and the electronics store that proceeded it. I was also there for the unveiling of the first Mac and got to actually use Windows 1.0 and Windows 2.0; which very few people ever saw, also does anyone remember GeoWorks? I had a copy of that too. I hand built (soldered together) my first computer, an S-100 Z80 System with 8" floppy disk drives.

I did a lot of programming on Windows 3.3 and was very impressed by it, especially it's networking capability. I did some programming on Windows 2000 and was far less impressed by it, it's poorly thought out and poorly documented security model was a huge pain to deal with and the reason that so many users were forced to run everything as an Admin. I find Windows 7 to be "not too bad", but XP was much better. These days I do most of my work on Linux... am sad to see the good folks at Ubuntu making such serious mistakes with their UI and not listening to anyone either... personally, I currently recommend Ubuntu Studio which has all the Ubuntu Goodness but uses the XFCE interface instead of that Unity mess which is really only good for cell phones. I find that Mac's are cute but consistently way overpriced, however for some things they are (probably) still the only game in town.

I've also worked in a computer lab with a bunch of NeXT computers -- awesome for their time, and the first that I know of with a Read/Write CD instead of a floppy, unfortunately that CD was also painfully unreliable (something you aren't likely to read in a history book). And I was taught to troubleshoot and repair -- what was then called a mainframe -- right down to figuring out which specific transistor or diode had failed.... But I don't have much use for mainframes, not when the typical modern laptop can run circles around what used to be a typical mainframe, but a room full of 20 meg tape drives with their whirring motors was a sight to behold. The first Light Pen was pretty amazing too... until your arm cramped up from the awkward position.

I also remember when the personal computer was first introduced and people literally did not know what to do with them, nobody had yet figured out how to justify their existence, this was before the days of the internet and widespread use of email.

I also read the original article "Goto Considered Harmful" when it first came out in the ACM in the 80's, so I was quite shocked when the "smart" folks at PHP recently and proudly announced their great achievement of adding Goto to their "wonderful" language (at least I used to think that PHP was wonderful until I encountered it's many bugs and fractured development team). I thought that the issue of "Goto" had been throughly settled 30 years ago... It would seem that ignorance is boundless and ever recurring. I also find the Ruby people to be insufferably arrogant, they claim to have invented many things that in actuality have been around since the 60's and 70's and on top of that their language is dog-slow and initially they gave no thought at all to the difficulty of deployment. But I do give them credit for creating some very cute spoofomercials.

I say all these things, not to brag, but merely to establish my credentials as a knowledgeable commentator -- the point being that I had a front row seat and was eye-witness to many of the major events of computer history. Democracy is a wonderful thing... but the way that the internet is structured there is a strong tendency for people to believe that all opinions are equal... I am sorry to disappoint you, but the reality is quite different, there are many people who are so ignorant and so full of ego that they don't even realize the extent of their misinformed/uninformed blithering.

Since I tend to get a little bit crotchety about, the egotistical know-nothings among us, I decided to call myself Old Codger...

Computer Performance[edit]

I get pretty disgusted with modern day operating systems that require 1 gigabyte of memory, just to be able to run the operating system, this is before any useful work actually gets done. It used to be that progress in software meant that newer versions ran faster and had fewer bugs. But this has not been the case for many years now, instead each new version runs slower and requires gawdawful absurd amounts of memory and disk space, with just as many bugs as before. Operating systems are getting worse not better.

Examples: The IBM_3270 used a block oriented scheme that allowed an early 3033 mainframe with only 16 MB to support up to 17,500 3270 terminals. And the MicroVAX 2000, with much less capacity than your laptop, could support hundreds of interactive users.