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Old October 19th, 2017, 06:06 PM
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Turing's Cathedral

Has anyone read this book? It's the story of the creation of the MANIAC, one of the first if not the first computer. It's written by the son of one of the physicists who worked on the project. It's absolutely incredible. The people were super heroes. Some of the most brilliant minds of a generation were all young and working together with great momentum to get this machine up and running.
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Old October 20th, 2017, 09:59 AM
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I have not. Good reviews on the book.
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Old October 20th, 2017, 11:12 AM
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Yeah the reviews are fantastic for the most part. Maybe this isn't as interesting to many folks here as they might be clever coders who learned the basics of all this in school but I still encourage anyone to read it. Mathematicians, physicists and engineers all came together to create a new technology that would forever unite their fields and transform daily life as we know it. For example the MANIAC was built in the form of a V40 engine (40 stage register) largely due to the fact that the engineer charged with the task of actually translating the digital theorists needs in a digital computer to a functioning piece of equipment was a mechanic and at home with engines. He lived in a blacksmith's shop with his family which he cut in half to ship across town to Princeton because it was taller than the power lines on the roads. Then he bolted it back together. Very colorful people. Richard Fienman was put in charge of figuring out how the IBM punch card equipment worked because he had been a delinquent and safe cracker so they thought he could unravel it. It's fascinating to think that the author of those famous physics lectures that have been on my book shelf my entire life are the work of a juvenile bank robber. The name Montecarlo came about in part due to that being where Jon Von Neuman met his wife and also due to mathematical theories he created in trying to beat the roulette wheel.

The book goes on to point out how the predictions these people made regarding the future development of digital technology are coming true at an ever increasing rate by way of the internet.

It's thoroughly fascinating.
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Old October 20th, 2017, 12:19 PM
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I would like to read the book. He was a fascinating person. While I enjoyed both movies about him, they were long on drama and short on technology. To me Breaking the Code was more historically accurate, The Imitation Game more entertaining.

It sounds like the book weaves together many different stories leading up to and parallel to Turing's. I read an entire chapter is devoted to the development of the 6J6 dual-triode vacuum tube, which would fascinate me.
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Old October 20th, 2017, 01:17 PM
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I believe the chapter about the 6J6 was also the chapter about the engineer I mentioned above, Julian Bigelow. The stuff they went through with tubes was pretty intensive. Apparently the 6J6 was kind of a piece of junk so they developed the entire "Reliable system of unreliable parts" approach. Fascinating.
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Old October 20th, 2017, 01:38 PM
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I believe the chapter about the 6J6 was also the chapter about the engineer I mentioned above, Julian Bigelow. The stuff they went through with tubes was pretty intensive. Apparently the 6J6 was kind of a piece of junk so they developed the entire "Reliable system of unreliable parts" approach. Fascinating.
In the early '60s we lived in Albuguerque, NM. My dad took me to see an Eniac at a military base. it was not running, but I was told it still could. In '76 visited a Cray 1 and sat on the padded bench surrounding it. What a difference!

I got started in electronics (professionally) as TV and audio repairman in the very late '60s. The 6J6 was as ubiquitous in audio as the 6GH8A was in television. I didn't get involved at all in computing until I started with CP/M in about '82 with Heath. Anyone remember PIP? We had to use Wordstar and Supercalc
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Old October 20th, 2017, 04:08 PM
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Used a Kaypro here for bean counting in the family business. I knew only how to use a spreadsheet and word processor on it. Never took it apart. It was heavy and not really a portable computer.
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