Sunday, January 29, 2012

The seventies teaches us what a computer is

A colleague of mine brought this lovely little book published by Ladybird into the office this week.  Titled The Computer and from a series which I presume intended to tell children how different complicated things work. Goodness knows how it's meant to be for children, look at all the code and diagrams they are being told to learn!

Many of the things the book writes about still apply today, but it's interesting to think that when they're talking about storage sizes they are talking about KB and entire rooms and when they're talking about speeds, they are speeds that would probably make you cry with despair and crawl into a corner now.

And the pictures are great, other than being wonderfully seventies, they really make the comparisons between then and now so positively clear.

"A small digital computer designed for the businessman," the book says proudly.

Oh how times have changed as I type this on my 1.7cm thin (at its thickest) MacBook Air. *Secretly laughs at people from the seventies*. If only you knew what this HUGE machine would become!

"Computers, like many other things, have given rise to their own terminology or jargon, and it is important to distinguish the special meaning of such terms from any more common meaning they may have. The following glossary may, therefore, be helpful for reference."

There's no sign of The World Wide Web and Laptops, let alone Social Media. The glossary defines a 'word' (we all know what that is so I thought I'd pick an easy one). Apparently a 'word' is 'an arrangement of binary digits' (oh really, last time looked we were typing in letters not 0s and 1s, but anyway, I forgive you seventies).

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