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Gordon Bell - Tour of the Computer History Museum, Part II

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Today you get to see Gordon Bell's face light up as he shows you the second half of the Computer History Museum. He also takes us in the back where people don't get to visit.

Oh, check out the computer with bullet holes and another with cigarette holders! How times have changed.

See early hard drives and even the first Google computers! More stories from Dan'l Lewin, member of the first Macintosh team, later co-founder of NeXT and now works at Microsoft. My son Patrick is there too.

Some special thanks: Ajay Juneja, founder of Speak With Me, and a volunteer at the museum, got us in (he's in the video toward the end too).

Thanks too to John Toole, executive director and CEO of the museum who gave us a killer tour along with Gordon Bell. Also Steven Brewster, director of marketing and communications, and Dag Spicer, senior curator for helping out and getting us this great access.

Finally, thanks to Gordon Bell for having the vision 30 years ago to start saving computers from the trash heap so we have a way to learn about our industry's past.

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  • Yippie Smiley

    First post!

    Go watch the video everyone -- especially if you can't come to the museum.

    And if you can come to the museum, please visit! I tend to volunteer on the weekends there.
  • iStationiStation Fuujin
    What a downsizing history of Computer hardware! :O 
  • Nata1Nata1 .Search - Google Appliance killer
    the suspense was killing me! but it started with a gap in there - no mention of the previous machine -

    whered the bullet holes come from!!
  • Nata1Nata1 .Search - Google Appliance killer
    One of the most beautiful and hideous things about this museum is this -

    Why where these systems built?  what purpose did they hold?

    I'm terribly influenced by The New Industrial State by John Kenneth Galbraith - and when I'm looking at these videos, I see that these systems were underwritten sometimes by big business, but mostly by the coldwar...

    I can hardly think of the coldwar as being something good until I see some of these - that kind of risk - just to have a microsoft/sun/apple today -

    That's what they were built for, and the public underwrote the cost of these enormous machines - by one thing.  Nuclear threat.
  • Did anyone else think it was hilarious when that guy freaked out when Scoble got too close to the memory bits?

    Excellent video!  I must go visit this museum someday! Smiley
  • scobleizerscobleizer I'm the video guy
    Nata1 wrote:
    the suspense was killing me! but it started with a gap in there - no mention of the previous machine -

    whered the bullet holes come from!!


    If I remember the story right, the computer sat in a field in some guy's back yard and his kid used it for target practice.
  • KenIIIKenIII Me smiling for the Camera
    Yeah that fellow who got a bit upset needs a smoke break, he seems a bit stressed Big Smile

    Good Video, I need to get back to the West Coast and visit it.

  • Nata1Nata1 .Search - Google Appliance killer
    scobleizer wrote:
    Nata1 wrote: the suspense was killing me! but it started with a gap in there - no mention of the previous machine -

    whered the bullet holes come from!!


    If I remember the story right, the computer sat in a field in some guy's back yard and his kid used it for target practice.


    I was thinking either the engineer flipped out, or it was some sort of CIA computer assasination (or whatever the cia was called back then Tongue Out)

    If there was another pass through the museum, it would be incredible to see what types of problems all these machines were solving... when that becomes declassified that is
  • Nata1Nata1 .Search - Google Appliance killer
    JChung2006 wrote:
    Did anyone else think it was hilarious when that guy freaked out when Scoble got too close to the memory bits?

    Excellent video!  I must go visit this museum someday!


    Yeah totally - I thought he was joking but when the dude totally flipped out -- I was eating dinner and inhaled some habenaro sauce - it keeps getting funnier every time I watch that
  • Nata1 wrote:
    JChung2006 wrote:Did anyone else think it was hilarious when that guy freaked out when Scoble got too close to the memory bits?

    Excellent video!  I must go visit this museum someday!


    Yeah totally - I thought he was joking but when the dude totally flipped out -- I was eating dinner and inhaled some habenaro sauce - it keeps getting funnier every time I watch that


    Yep, that was an even funnier moment in person! He backed away when he saw John Toole... apparently not everyone was informed of what we were up to.
  • Ooooooooh, Scoble got told off Tongue Out

    Bad boy! [6]
  • TheProgrammerThe​Programmer Always on edge thinking...
    The camera should have focused on computers, not Gordon Bell.Mad
  • scobleizerscobleizer I'm the video guy
    You can visit the museum anytime and see the computers. But this was an EXTREMELY RARE chance to hear Gordon's stories.
  • I remember being in a computer lab once putting a computer together and a guy walking in and shouting at me because he thought I was holding some RAM wrong. I was wearing anti-static and not touching the contacts. So after some fumbling to hold it differently and him still shouting at me, I just put it down on the table and backed away.Tongue Out
  • msuraskymsurasky Go Manolito

    Both videos are a great way to learn about computer history.

    I mean, I took computer history courses and I remember seeing drawings about Craigs and DPDs but seeing them and listening to Gordon talking is a interesting experience.

    Does anybody know if they have computers turned on with their operating systems running?

    There was, there is and there will be so many manufacturers and computers making history in computer industry that I think at some point in time they will have to host the museum in a stadium...

    this whole "retro" thing is making me reminisce about my old ZX Spectrum [C]... I think I'll dig in my back yard to see if I can find it...

  • Christian Liensbergerlittleguru <3 Seattle

    Great videos! Scoble, did you actually have a second tape in your car?

  • johnbrienjohnbrien HARRIER

    The old guy who when nuts needs to get a live  
    [6][6][6]

  • Around 10 minutes into Part II, Gordon Bell mentions that Lisp was one of the many languages that came into existence around 1960 and John Toole mentions that the Museum's Software Collection Committee is working on a project to track down historic Lisp source code. The work done so far is online at http://community.computerhistory.org/scc/projects/LISP/  and a similar project exists for the original FORTRAN system at http://community.computerhistory.org/scc/projects/FORTRAN/ . Other projects are underway for Doug Englebart's NLS/Augment system and for the APL programming language.  We welcome more volunteers.


    Paul McJones
    http://www.mcjones.org/dustydecks/

  • These videos were great!  More!  More!  Big Smile
     

  • billhbillh call -141

    Great video...thanks to all involved.

    [Musuem curator]: Sir.  Sir, please.  Sir! SIR!!! Back AWAY from the donuts.*

    *
    donut core memory

    I think the Google server being out of place was a practical joke by the Google folks, or a feeble attempt to alter history by saying they've been around longer than they really have. 

  • MinhMinh WOOH!  WOOH!
    When's Gordon's memoir coming out? More stories like the Nobel winner please!
  • rhmrhm
    OK, I only just got round to watching this one.

    My first job was with a British defense contractor which at the time was called GEC Marconi (now part of BAe Systems) and in 1995 I was working in their computer services department where I spent a lot of time lifting up tiles from false floors to move cabling. Anyway, they were at the time one of the biggest DEC sites in Europe (had an office on site for DEC employees etc.). The machine room had tons of VAXen of different vintages and right at the back was an 11/780 just like the one in the video and it was still running in 1995! Logins were limited to people that needed to maintain whatever critical application was running on it. I think they eventually shut it down in 1996 when they transfered that stuff onto a MicroVAX that used a halluva lot less electricity. They also still used those old 300Mb removable disc pack drives (the ones that were like twin-tub washing machines), but only to recover old data as far as I know.

    Gordon Bell mentions on the video that the T3e marked the end of the traditional 'cray style' supercomputers, but this isn't quite true as Cray themselves still make some vector computers and the famous Earth Simulator in Japan uses special purpose vector processors made by NEC. I suppose what it really marked the end of was the use of exotic materials and construction techniques to make a few computing elements run at higher speeds as opposed to just adding more elements which is what we do now. One thing Cray didn't really bank on either was that it's the minaturisation of CMOS chips that would lead to higher clock speeds rather than the use of exotic materials (like Gallium Arsenide). Although the speed of his machines was remarkable for the day, it's couldn't compete with the multi-GHz devices we have now.

    It was nice to see the Connection Computer by Thinking Machines. Gordon mentions it was designed by Danny Hillis, but I don't think he actually gave the name of the machine in the video. I remember that being big news in the '90s when it was sold, but as he says, it didn't sell well because the problems of programming it.

    Right next to the connection machine though was a far more significant machine that didn't get a single mention in the video - the Intel Delta. What's important about that is that it was one of the first machines to prove the "massively parallel" concept using commodity CPUs. It was an early prototype in the line of machines that led to the ASCI Red and ASCI White machines in use at Lawrence Livermore which dominated the Top500 list until the Earth Simulator came along.
  • rhmrhm
    And co-incidentally, BillG has decided to donate to the museum today.
  • CharlesCharles Welcome Change

    Thanks, Bill!

    C

  • nightmare_davidnightmare_d​avid Welcome to my NightmarE

    Great video and now I'm interested in that guys car.

    I agree that the guy who yelled needs to take a chill pill. Someone who lives near the museum and has a little bit of free time should make a duplicate of that thing and switch it on him.

    Have Scoble come back for part 3 and Scoble should trip and fall into it shattering it into pieces. Then zoom into the guys face. That would be hilarious.

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