This past weekend I attended the Vintage Computer Festival at the Computer History Museum (article). There were numerous highlights at the exhibits. I saw a demo of the Minskytron and Spacewar! on an original PDP-1 by Steve Russell. The Magic-1 was a complete homebrew computer made of discrete 74xx logic chips running Minix. The differential analyzer showed how analog computers worked. I also met Wesley Clark and watched team members type demo code into the LINC, similar to
ed on a very small terminal.
One question I asked other attendees was what recent or modern laptop I could get for outdoor use. I am looking for a low-power device with a high-contrast screen for typing notes or coding while camping. Older LCD devices like the eMate met these criteria but a more modern version is preferable. Most recommended the OLPC XO-1, and in monochrome mode, it sounds like what I want. But I think I’ll wait for the second version to be sure the bugs are worked out.
After looking around at attendees, I was concerned for our future. Other than a few dads with their kids, most people were 40+ years old. While I missed out on the golden era of computer diversity (I got my first C64 in 1987), I was always fascinated with how computers were invented. I checked out books from the library and read old copies of Byte magazine found in a dumpster. Once I got on the Internet, I browsed the Lyons Unix source code commentary and studied the Rainbow Books to understand supervisor design.
So where was the under-30 crowd? Shouldn’t computer history be of interest to most computer science/electrical engineering students, and especially to security folks? Many auto mechanics enjoy viewing and maintaining old hotrods. Architectural history is important to civil engineers. I appreciate the work bunnie is doing to educate people on semiconductor design, including old chips. Is this having an effect?
If you’re under 30, I’m interested in hearing your response.