Category Archives: Computing History

Have You Forgot The Size Of Memory?

 IBM 350 disk storage unit

IBM 350 disk storage unit – capacity 5 MB

Back in November I made a post about how computer memory had declined in price over the past 20 years (you can read it here).

Now I’ve come across another article showing a hard drive from 1956. Pictured right, is the IBM 350 Disk Storage Unit. It had the capacity of just 5 MB and had to be mechanically lifted on to an aeroplane it weighed that much.

I tried to see if it was even still possible to buy a 5 MB memory drive by doing a quick Google search. 128 MB was the smallest I could find and that was a memory stick for a camera. It has a size of about 2.8mm thick and weighs as little as 4 grams (Sony 128MB Memory Stick High Grade – MSH128.CE). Another good example of how quickly the computer industry changes.

The IBM history website has more on this mammoth machine  if you’re interested. I’m putting a challenge out there to anyone who can find a modern device with less data than I did. Post the link in the comments if you manage to find one.

Have You Forgot The Cost Of Memory?

I found this interesting little article at http://www.mkomo.com/cost-per-gigabyte

It shows the price of computer memory and how it’s declined over the past 20 years. It’s another good example of how rapid the computer industry moves and how hard it is to predict future technologies.

The article is only short so give it a read and let me know what you think in the comment section. Can you remember how much memory your first computer had?

Weekly Reflection – Week 1 to 5

Its only been 5 weeks since I started university but over that short space of time I feel like I’ve learnt a lot. Each week has shown me something new. This post is a week by week run through of the things I’ve learnt and the different  programs I’ve come across.

I’ll start by going back to week 1. Week 1 was all about the history of the web. I learnt about its creation and about its creator, Tim Berners-Lee. I actually wrote about him in a related blog post which you can find here. I also looking into HTML which was also created by Tim Berners-Lee. I did all of my research of him online and didn’t come across any problems. There is a wealth of pages and sites about him. I’ll list my resources at the end of this blog if you feel like doing some research of your own.

In week 2 I learnt about search engines. I learnt how they work, what they do and the different types of search engines there is. I conducted some research into Steve Wozniak using different search engines and search techniques to try and improve my research method. Below is a table of searches I made and the results I got from them:

Search Engine Criteria Result
Google Steve Wozniak http://www.biography.com/people/steve-wozniak-9537334
http://ei.cs.vt.edu/~history/WOZNIAK.HTM
http://www.landsnail.com/apple/local/woz_gig/woz.html
http://www.crunchbase.com/person/steve-wozniak
http://sanfrancisco.about.com/od/attractionslandmark1/a/stevewozniak.htm
The history of Steve Wozniak http://www.markusehrenfried.de/mac/applehistory.html
http://inventors.about.com/od/Computer-Geek/p/Steve-Wozniak.htm
http://www.ideafinder.com/history/inventors/wozniak.htm
Yahoo Steve Wozniak biography http://biography.yourdictionary.com/steve-wozniak
Steve Wozniak history http://www.pophistorydig.com/?tag=steve-wozniak-history

You can click any of the links in that table to see the pages I looked at. I posted my findings in this blog post. He is a pretty interesting guy and I enjoyed learning a bit about him. This was my first real experience with the search engine Yahoo and I can honestly say I didn’t like it. First of all the Yahoo site doesn’t look nice at all and although the actual search results page looks similar to Google’s one, I found that it didn’t produce results that were half as good. That is just my opinion anyway.

Week 3 was all about HTML and I got my first experience with Dreamweaver. I went online this week too and try to learn some basic HTML to get me up to speed. I found some great resources that you can read about here. I have had brief experience with HTML so have some basic knowledge but could definitely improve on what I know. I didn’t find it difficult and have since been able to replicate what I learnt that week.

During week 4 I carried on learning about HTML and other mark-up languages. I moved away from Dreamweaver and went back to basics. Pen and paper! I had to annotate a web page and write down what code was being used and where. I found this easy. By dong it on paper and having to actually write it off the top of my head without the help of Dreamweaver I found that this really solidified my learning. I was able to recall the code used for different section and write them down so that someone could pick up that bit of paper and build that web page. I certainly think I’m well on my way to becoming much better at HTML.

That brings us to this week and today in fact. This week was all about designing the web. Today was also the first time I have ever used Adobe Fireworks (as I write this, fireworks are going off outside my apartment, I kid you not). I liked how simple it was compared to the likes of Photoshop and Illustrator. My previous experience with vector programs, which I talk about here, has already give me a good understanding of how Fireworks should operates. I say ‘should’ because as I’ve found in the past, although these programs do very similar stuff they can actually operate very differently. Thankfully Fireworks isn’t too complicated and I’m hoping to pick it up in no time. I’m getting to the point now where I’m really enjoying my web lessons in university. After all this is what I came to uni to learn about in the first place. The use of Dreamweaver was great. Tinkering with code and making thinks do what I want, for me was actually really therapeutic. I’m keen to learn a lot more about Dreamweaver but haven’t had the chance just yet. Firework was also something enjoyable. I found that I could quickly create content for a web page and save it in a format that is sensitive to the webs restrictions. I.e. bandwidth and browser type.

I’m excited about next week and I’m hoping for more work on either Dreamweaver or Firework. From here on you will be able to read a weekly update of the things I’m learning and my thoughts about the subjects. In the future they will probably have a bit more detail in them, as I won’t be trying to remember what happened 5 weeks ago. Sometime I can remember what happened 5 minutes ago.

If you are studying the same subject as me then leave me a comment and let me know what you have thought of Dreamwaver and the like. If your not studying the same subject as me then leave a comment anyway about your experience at university and how your finding it so far. Is your courses living up to expectations? Is it better then expected? Let me know!

 


Addison Wesley Longman (1998). ‘A history of HTML’ W3.org http://www.w3.org/People/Raggett/book4/ch02.html

Ross Shannon. ‘What is HTML? HTML’ Source.com http://www.yourhtmlsource.com/starthere/whatishtml.html

W3c.org. ‘W3C Mission’ http://www.w3.org/Consortium/mission

Jennifer Kyrnin, About.com Guide. ‘What is HTML? Learn More About the History of Web Page Markup’ About.com http://webdesign.about.com/od/htmlxhtmltutorials/a/what-is-html.htm

W3school.com. ‘Web Standards’ http://www.w3schools.com/web/web_standards.asp

Anders Møller and Michael I. Schwartzbach. ‘An Introduction to XML and Web Technologies’. Addison-Wesley, January 2006

A Short History of Steve Wozniak

Steve Wozniak – The other Steve from Apple

Stephen Gary Wozniak was born on 11th August 1950 in California, but it wasn’t until 1976 that he became a Silicon Valley icon when he founded Apple Computers (now Apple Inc.), a company he started along with Steve Jobs and the less known Ronald Wayne. Not as big in popular culture as Steve Jobs or even Bill Gates (although he did once guest start in the popular TV show ‘The Big Bang Theory’), he is certainly an influential figure and a key individual in evolution of personal computing.

Steve’s dad, Jerry Wozniak, worked at Lockheed Martin, a security and aerospace company. It was his dad that first inspired his interest in electronics and he would build small devices using the parts his dad would bring home from Lockheed Martin.

In his late teens he worked at Hewlett-Packard as an engineer and studied at the University of California. It was at Hewlett-Packard that he met Steve Jobs through mutual friends. Together they worked on something they called the ‘little blue box’. It was an illegal device that could hack telephone lines and make all calls free. He is quoted as once using the device to call the Vatican and demand he speak to The Pope. Steve and Steve sold this ‘little blue box’ to other students for $150, already a couple of smart business men. He did not finish his first year at the University of California; instead he dropped out to work full time.

Where Steve really excelled was in designing and producing circuit boards. A short famous story is Wozniak and Jobs first paid work together. While Wozniak worked at HP, Jobs was working at computer game company Atari. Atari wanted to make a game influenced by Pong, known as Breakout. Steve Jobs was tasked with designing the prototype game and arcade cabinet. Jobs knew that Wozniak would be great at this and asked him to work with him on the promise of splitting Jobs wage. Wozniak designed the game in just 4 days and also designed a small functional chipboard too. Atari couldn’t use his design though as it was difficult to manufacture. Instead they used one that had more than double the components he had used. A little interesting fact about that story is that Jobs never actually split the full amount of his pay with Wozniak although it was Wozniak that had done most of the work. Wozniak found this out years later and it resulted in a breakdown of their friendship.

While still working at HP Wozniak was allowed to develop his own ideas out of office hours. It was there that he developed his own personal computer. His design philosophy was that it must be simple, easy to program and affordable. It was when Jobs seen this that he convinced Wozniak to set up Apple and sell his computer. They didn’t have an office; instead they worked from Jobs garage. The computer the designed was called the Apple I. At first they tried to sell it to the companies they had worked for, HP and Atari, but neither company was interested. After weeks of hard work though, and help from a local computer shop, they eventually orders to the total of $50k. It was at this point that Ronald Wayne left Apple as he thought the company would go no further. He was very wrong.

The Apple I had started their business for them but it was the Apple II that would revolutionise home computing. Wozniak still worked at HP and during out of office hours continued on improving the Apple I. Apple II created a market for itself. It was for everyman, where the Apple I had only really been for computer experts. It was simple and easy to use, much like Apple’s modern day products. Wozniak was the creative force behind the computer, he designed its interface and made it function, Jobs on the other hand just worked out how to market it. If it wasn’t for Wozniak we may not have the Apple we know today or personal computers anything like we do now. He pushed the ideas of hardware design and user interaction to new areas.

Apple grew and grew from here. Wozniak developed a way to connect Apple computers to printers, making it more useful and more helping the average person use computers. He did end up leaving Apple in 1985 because he felt the company was no longer the Apple he had started and was moving in the wrong direction. Since then he has gone on to set up other companies but they have not been as successful as Apple. Although he was only at Apple for 9 years he managed to create a market that at the time no one knew existed and almost single handily changed what was thought possible with home computers.