Slideshow: Some Bits and Bytes of Computer History

Wow, time sure does fly, and computers keep getting faster and smaller!  It has been 40 years since I wrote my first computer program, in the BASIC computer language.  I took the only computer class available at my high school back then.

Teletype machine

I learned to program on one of these 40 years ago!

We used a Teletype machine.  While it did not have a display screen, it had a built-in printer with a large roll of paper.  This acted as both display and printer.  While it did not have its own disk drive, you could save your programs and data onto paper tape, with punched holes representing the stored information.  We used a Timeshare system, which was running on a remote computer at the county-level school district headquarters.  We would make a phone call to the Timeshare system, and place the phone receiver into a coupler on a dial-up modem.  Then we could log on.  There was some disk storage available on the Timeshare system, so you could retrieve your homework assignments and project files and programs.

For the fun of it, I created a “homegrown” slideshow (when window opens, please click the “View Slideshow” button in order to slideshow, which will display in full screen mode).

The purpose of this Homegrown DIY Javascript Slideshow is threefold:

  • To show some examples of computers (or similar ones) that I have used since I first learned BASIC programming language around 1974-75, back in high school.
  • To get you thinking about how far we have come with computer technology over the past several decades, and where technology might go in the future. We have already seen rapid change in just the last few years (smartphones, tablets, social media).
  • To show you that you can DIY (Do It Yourself), instead of only just relying on “plugins” and copying/pasting code from other sites. You can customize your own webpages, beyond the limits offered by some plug-ins.

As far as #3, as a long-time computer programmer, here is a bit of my own philosophical take on coding: While there are many benefits to Open Source software or using “free” pre-built plug-ins, you can learn more by trying to Do It Yourself (DIY).  Yes, it might take you longer, but once you’ve built something yourself, you can reuse it again (in full or in part), and you can share it with others as well.  By going the DIY route, you can have more control over your own programs and data.  In other words, you don’t have to always be using someone else’s “Cloud” or so-called “free” web service, where they can sell your personal information and profit off of your “free content”.

DIY typically stands for Do It Yourself. But it can also mean Dig In, You-might-like-IT!

These slideshow photos were obtained via Google Image, and handful came from from the Michigan State University website.

For more on Computer History, check out the Computer History Museum and the Smithsonian Computer History Collection.

Happy Coding,
Ron

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