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Computer Nerd Stuff (Computer History)

The Computer History Museum

This museum in Mountain View is an incredible place (and it has no entrance fee - the best things in life are - indeed - for free). Everybody should go there and learn about the incredible history of computers. If you are only an ordinary user, there will be guided tours through the exhibit held on a level understandable for everybody. Even if you are not an expert who wants to know every detail on how a PDP-11 works, these tours will be interesting because they will equally illuminate issues like why the military was interested in computers (e.g. for calculations necessary to build an atomic bomb, to crack the german Enigma, ...), where the first computer game was developed, the crazy design of Crays (did Seymour Cray design computers inspired by the ones designed for science fiction movies or vice versa?), the game DeepBlue versus Kasparov, ... I really recommend this tour. If you are a computer fan who wants to know all the interesting technology, you are at the right place because staff will constantly walk around to answer all your questions. And these guys really know what they are talking about because most of them were once programming these things and they know every bit of a machine. I learned there for example about interesting features of operating system in the pre-UNIX days. And the museum has a lot of interesting machines: DeepBlue itself actually, Crays in all flavors (though you are not allowed to sit on the Cray I - for that you have to go to the Deutsches Museum in Munich, Germany), PDP-11 (where UNIX was developed on), parts of ENIAC, a model of a Jacquard loom, the first google-server, SAGE, a virtual-reality helmet from the 1960s, IBM 360, Altair 8800 (a variant of that computer appears in WarGames), the first laser printer by XeroX, harddisks more than 1 meter in diameter, an Apple I signed by Steve Wozniak, tons of good old core memory and, of course, tons of punching cards (I learned there that IBM was making most of its money from selling blank punching cards even for some time after it went into the electronic computer business). You can also learn how to crack the phone system and phone for free using Wozniak's Bluebox.

Why is it car and cdr in LISP

... in Berkeley

The math department in Berkeley is an excellent place to explore things, in terms of mathematics and in other unexpected ways: it is full of old computer hardware (especially a monstrous old Sun Server standing on the hallway of fourth floor Evans makes me think of making my own personal style refrigerator a la Silicon Graphics Refrigerator Project).

Recent highlights of my findings

Guess what the image shows? As soon as I get a camera, this will become a little quiz

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