WHO’D HAVE THOUGHT?

Popular Mechanics (South Africa) - - Letters / What’s On Your Mind? - FRANK VAN DER VELDE CAPE TOWN

I found this quo­ta­tion the other day:

‘ Where a cal­cu­la­tor on the ENIAC is equipped with 18 000 vac­uum tubes and weighs 30 tons, com­put­ers in the fu­ture may have only 1 000 vac­uum tubes and per­haps weigh 1.5 tons.’

— Pop­u­lar Me­chan­ics, March 1949

It is in­ter­est­ing that, in the 1950s, I built a bed­side ra­dio with six vac­uum tubes and, in the 1960s at var­sity, tran­sis­tors were first com­ing into use. In ’64 Wits had an IBM1100 com­puter in the fac­ulty of engi­neer­ing, which fit­ted into a room about 3 me­tres by 10 me­tres. The in­put out­put was by punched cards; each punch hole was bi­nary 1 and no hole rep­re­sented a bi­nary 0. Our pro­gramme pack­age was For­tran, which was sim­ple logic: yes-no; and-or; nand-nor; If loops, etc.

The room was care­fully air-con­di­tioned and hu­mid­ity- con­trolled. To­day, all that and much more is con­tained in a pocket cell­phone.

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