Friday, 7 August 2009

The technology that took us to the Moon

The other week delicate flower posted an old photo of a RAND corp. mock-up of a futuristic home computer and asked for our predictions of what things might be like 50 years from now. This is an interesting question but so difficult to speculate on. Who would have predicted Blu-tack 50 years ago? Yet it was developed in 1971.

Just a couple of years before that, Apollo 11 had landed on the moon and the electronics needed to process those communications looks remarkably similar to df's photo, but a bit more stylish and lacking a steering wheel.

It was kit like that which gave us the TV pictures of the first moonwalk, read the full story at Universe Today.

I am reminded of my own first involvements with computers, which must have been ~30 years ago. But therein lies a different tale. Hmm, I might post about that. It will take a series though :)


Duncanr said...

We've certainly moved on a bit - technology-wise.

I can remember when there was no such thing as desktop PC's - when you had to punch a whole lot of holes in a whole lot of cards, make sure they were in the right order, fasten the whole with an elastic band, then pass through a hatch to a man in a white coat to run the program for you.

Who back then - and I'm talking late '70s - would have predicted laptops, web-books, and wifi ?

Andy Holroyd said...

I started out with punched tape to store data from scintillation counters measuring calcium-45. It wasn't much use because all it did was generate another printout of the raw data, and we already had that.

But I soon realised I could program the counters from punched tape too. Then I didn't have to fiddle with the Teletype except to say run! Happy days, about '75-'76.

Andy Holroyd said...

Just thinking again about the 'punched tape' times. No one else used it for programming, they would load their samples and then diligently stand there (yes, stand) entering the parameters for whatever they were measuring.

I would load my samples, go 'bzzzzzzz', and fuck off for a coffee.

And nobody ever asked me how I did it!