Flash Fiction #62

Storage

PHOTO PROMPT – © Claire Fuller

COMPUTER STORE

Welcome to the Computer Museum. Nothing in Man’s development has changed as much, as fast, as computing.

This is ENIAC’s grandson. In 1955, a crew of 9 men took almost a month to solder together 37,000 tubes. A large Montreal company used it mostly for payroll. My pocket calculator will do more than what they paid $2.5 million for.

Moore’s law says that speed doubles every 2 years, while size halves. You see that here in data storage also, rows of cabinets of tape reels, rolled by triskele arms for reduced space. School kids’ flash drives now hold this much.

***

In 1976, an erstwhile co-worker told me of being the design engineer in charge of the installation of Ferranti-Packard’s ENIAC successor, in a hall as big as 8 bowling lanes. Fortunately, Carrier had invented the air-conditioner, or all those tubes throwing off heat could have baked bread in the room. Dot-matrix tractor-printers had to be properly grounded, or the static electricity they generated could wipe the core.

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple  site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

#498

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24 thoughts on “Flash Fiction #62

  1. BrainRants says:

    Is this fiction? Even if not, very interesting.

    Like

    • Sightsnbytes says:

      50 years ago it would have been science fiction, so I guess that counts

      Like

      • Archon's Den says:

        I remember a book from the ’60s where a planetary emperor was always accompanied by a personal aide called a Remembrancer. Like the Star Trek Enterprise computer, theirs was built into/part of all government buildings. The Remembrancer accessed this huge computer with what we now regard as a tablet, by touching gold wires inlaid inside and outside all such buildings.
        Some prophecies came true. Some didn’t. It’s been educational, and fun. 😀

        Like

    • Archon's Den says:

      Beyond the fiction of a museum guide, all else is reality. I worked with the engineer who installed a 37,000 electronic-tube Ferranti-Packard behemoth. As Purchasing Agent, I provided him with a $129 Texas Instruments calculator, capable of landing a lunar shuttle. While the above storage bins may not hold computer tapes, they are identical to some which did, usually at universities, or large libraries.
      My employer in 1974 was one of the first to install a computer for bookkeeping and inventory control. It crashed every time one particular, left-handed female clerk tried to do payroll. A tech-rep finally came to the office and moved the integral/supplied wastepaper basket back to her non-preferred right side, and clicked it into place, where it functioned as a ground for the static. 😳

      Like

  2. I remember days when a computer took up a whole room and you had to book slots to use it at University.

    Like

    • Archon's Den says:

      I remember that at both the local Universities, though I was working by then, rather than attending.
      Our first home computer was in 1989 – a Tandy/Radio Shack, TRS -1000. It operated on a DOS system, and was capable only of word-processing, but it relieved my wife of the responsibility of typing my correspondence. Finally, I could produce letters and documents myself, without a dozen (hundred?) strikethroughs, erasures, or a bottle of WhiteOut. 😆
      The son still uses the well-made, large keyboard which fits his big hands. He recently had to purchase a 15-out/16-in pin-adapter, to make it function with his most recent computer.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. mjlstories says:

    I used to have my very first ,pretty huge ‘pocket’ (big pockets!) calculator still working. Kids in my classes always liked it better than their smaller ones! Borrowing it was a special treat – until the day I dropped it. And you just can’t get the parts.
    Interesting piece.

    Like

    • Archon's Den says:

      I am old enough to have lived through (and occasionally posted about) the technology tsunami. I’m a little more tech-savvy than most old fogies my age, but still Waaayy behind the curve.
      A computer-geek young supervisor once asked me if my home computer had/could do….??(something)
      I replied that I had the same model as Fred Flintstone. If you lifted the cover, there was a little guy inside with a chisel, inscribing on a stone tablet. 😆

      Like

  4. I can’t even imagine how tiny computers are going to be. Apple’s watch is a good example of very small. What will we be using in the future?
    Thought provoking words … 😎

    Like

    • Archon's Den says:

      Cell phones got smaller and smaller, till clumsy fingers can no longer run them, and people lost their styluses (styli?). They’re still thin and light, but now are growing larger again.
      We already have wearable tech, and the ‘Internet of Everything’ has our appliances talking to each other, and the grocery store. There are prosthetic limbs that operate by electrical signals from encased muscles. I guess that the next step could be implanted Wi-Fi chips – and SkyNet has won. 😳

      Liked by 1 person

      • LOL … sometimes, I think “It’s the devil in disguise.” My refrigerator (6 months old) was making strange sounds. The repairman said, “It’s letting your know the temperature needs adjusting. HUH …!!! I have to listen to an appliance.
        Scarey … 😳

        Like

  5. Jim Wheeler says:

    When I was a junior submarine officer in the USN our secure means of communication was an encryption system similar to the German Enigma system. Messages were converted to an encrypted format randomized in five-letter groupings which were then transmitted by Morse code over short-wave radio. Incoming messages were decrypted by officers who had to manually set up multiple disks in the machine and then type them in without error. It was laborious and boring. Now all that is done automatically over satellite links, including voice transmissions.

    Not all this is good, given the proclivity of politicians to treat ships and units as chess pieces. I suspect many Commanding Officers wish for a return to the old days when they had more length to the leash. But then, they might not even be aware of how it used to be. 🙄

    Like

    • Archon's Den says:

      A couple of hackers have already taken over a Jeep in flight. I just read an article about how the car-makers are making autos more and more internet-connected. You can order food, or pay for gas without leaving the car. They need to beef up the security systems though, or scammers will be able to sit at the side of the highway and skim your personal info like they do with the phoney ATM readers. 😳

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Hey I have an original Commodor 64 in the original box, anyone interested? 🙂 Well told!

    Like

  7. Margaret says:

    It is fascinating to be alive at a time of such enormous changes – but also a little bit scary. Good story.

    Like

  8. aFrankAngle says:

    Reminds me of the programming course where we used punch cards. Well done!

    Like

    • Archon's Den says:

      I worked for 5 years in an inventory dept. in a basement, next to two female clerks with the data-entry punch machine, and the sorter. Weekly, I took 4 drawers of inventory cards to an IBM office, where they ran them to produce 12 printouts of updated items, to be spread among inside and outside sales reps.
      I learned to repeatedly run through and punch cards to produce a result that would have caused a computer a stroke, but, when held up to the light, showed
      HAPPY
      BIRTHDAY 😉 or
      MERRY
      CHRISTMAS

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I remember the huge computers, and the miles of computer paperprint out you used to get. You could be doing computing science at uni and never see the computer. Only a select few (definitely no students) were allowed in the room it was housed. If you’d said then about the internet and smart watches it would definitely been science fiction.

    Like

    • Archon's Den says:

      I’m currently reading a book which explains that ‘The Church’ suppressed any change for centuries. Between the year 1000, and 1500, the only technological advancements were windmills, and waterwheels. – Then came The Renaissance! I wonder how/if Church rulers would deal with today’s Information Age. 😕

      Liked by 1 person

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