100 posts • joined Wednesday 17th June 2009 15:20 GMT
OT: New Coke
Need to tighten the straps on your Tinfoil Hat. There are many who believe, with some evidence, that the whole point of "New Coke" was to flush the supply of "Old Coke" so that when they "relented" and "brought back Classic Coke", nobody would notice that the sugar had been replaced by HFCS. This only makes sense in the U.S., where sugar incurs high tariffs and corresponding high local prices, while HFCS is subsidized.
But they probably recouped the cost of the "New Coke Fiasco" in a few months of higher margin on Classic.
And yet the story lives on, like the "Chevy Nova" one, or the notion that patents are for the benefit of small inventors, because, well, that one guy eventually got a payout for intermittent wipers.
As for Omidyar "playing to his new crowd", well, what do you expect? He's in business. You may as well be shocked that politicians lie or water runs downhill.
Putting on my mu-metal hat (tinfoil is not effective against the latest NSA/GCHQ measures), I have to wonder if the whole thing is just "motivation" getting users to "update" to a version more friendly to "lawful intercept".
Fact is, if "They" (NSA, GCHQ, RBN) want to do something nasty to you, they will, unless you go all Unabomber and live totally off the grid in some unheated (can't forget the IR-scanners in those drones) but
well-insulated cabin in the woods.
Cassette data storage
Sigh. I've been reviving a KIM-1, and yep, the one bit that isn't working yet is the cassette data storage. Yes, the (approximately proper era) cassette recorder has line-out. Even has a "remote switch" so in theory I could do cool things with a PIO pin and a transistor or so.
Already hacked the "sorta 20mA loop" TTY lines to be "sorta RS-232". Then found how much serial IO drivers have rotted since people who actually used TTY 33s were common. This was not helped by KIM being hard-wired half-duplex...
Noticeable Latency Increase?
As a Comcast subscriber, that would be "Hmm, it's been about 15 minutes now..."
So, I have the choice of not opening emails of unverifiable provenance, consisting of only attachments, in which case my bank, my doctor, and my boss (back when I was employed) get angry with me, and get even...
... or ...
opening such attachments and having my computer owned by criminals.
Nice choice there.
Re: Put the screen in a phone
I think you missed the point. He said he wanted the e-ink display in a small "mostly dumb" phone, with a WiFi hotspot for the "screen intensive" stuff could by outsourced to a tablet or the like. I agree _that_ would be desireable, so I may be mis-reading as well, but I doubt it. Phone for connection. Tablet for webgrazing and Angry-birds. Or, in my case laptop for "research" (webgrazing) and a pile of xterms running ssh.
Re: You need to be thinking *phototypesetter,* not Linotype if you want to go that way.
> how are you going to produce the multiple copies of a letter?
The letters are exactly analogous to the matrices of a Linotype. If you need 1920 As, then sop be it. Makes the type-magazine pretty large, but it is in the class of problems which can be solved by throwing money at them.
As opposed to the class of "We have no idea how to do this, even if we had billions at our disposal.
You just know that this thing is going to be so expensive that it will be installed in the managing director's office, where he will use it to train his philodendron, rather than actually having to work very often.
> While I'd like to have seen more use of a photographic approach the challenge is tough enough (I think) that no solution should be ruled out unless it's very cumbersome.
Well, quite a few photographic solutions, especially of the Victorian era are "ruled out" by modern health and safety laws. A friend has been trying to create less toxic (i.e. legal for normal people to use) equivalents to older photographic processes, and had some tales to tell. OTOH, I spent enough time playing bare-handed with mercury as a child that I should be mad as a hatter by now. Oh, wait...
> Regarding a character code well Baudot, used for teletype/telex systems would be more authentic.
Baudot was a Johnny come lately in telegraphy (not to mention that what we know as Baudot is actually Murray's later version), pre-dated by at least Morse and Cooke/Wheatstone multi-needle codes. I'm mentally trying to come up with something buildable in Babbage's lifetime, thus from bits and pieces that existed then. Morse makes the cut. Baudot not.
I'm beginning to think that a "practical" machine would benefit from your notion of phototypesetter, where only one master copy of each glyph is present, but with a pin-screen to store the image.
Of course, one of my favorite notions would stuff clear or opaque marbles (small as possible) into the bottom of a frame with translucent front and back, and perhaps an optically dense fluid. As each row of these "pixels" is "rendered", it is shoved up in the frame, with older lines emerging from the top. If the opaque "marble" were iron, the two types could be sorted magnetically. for reuse Of course, even a 24x80 screen of 5x7 (in a 6x8 cell) characters would need 92160 of each (actually fewer of the clear ones, unless we do inverse video) .
Still about the same as the 1920x48 "type matrices" for my Linotype-style machine, but cheaper in bulk, and you could do graphics. can one render a convincing LOL-Cat in 480x192?
Actually about the Morse keyboard sender.
The "drum with pins" calls to mind a controller for complex chemical synthesis I saw in an old Sci Am for the "Merrifield Technique." Essentially an uncommitted cam timer where you set the speed of the drum rotation and programmed it by inserting or removing "plugs" at each location on each control channel, each segment along the drum being a channel.
Sort of the extension into three dimensions of certain light-timers. You place "on" and "off" pegs wherever you want on a disk which is truned by a clock motor. Maybe I should say "4 dimensions", as your device allowed variable speed.
But doing it mechanically? If the input is Morse it could be using a solenoid to pull or push the pins in or out of the drum. How much store? If the storage is substantial a spiral pattern round the drum would make more sense.
No solenoids. No electricity at all, far as I could tell, other than that switched by the output contacts. I don't think it had an electric motor either. Appeared to be clockwork, although I suppose a large office could be run off a line-shaft with belts. :-)
As far as I could tell, the keyboard pushed a code into a row of bistable pins, then advanced the drum to the next row. Meanwhile, a "reader" of some sort walked around the drum, reading and clearing rows. From the (dim and dimly remmbered at this point) photo, there appeared to be maybe 50 rows of 7-10 (a guess, see below) pins, or maybe invertable springs, or wire-memory like used by Zuse used in Z-1 and Z-2.
You say a keyboard, do you mean the keyboard writes to the drum in a code like ASCII (or more appropriately Baudot)?
More likely a native representation of Morse. I know of three possibilities. the first is like some tape machines used, punching "on" and "off" holes and advancing a variable number of spaces depending on character length. This makes the reader/sender easy, but complicates the keyboard/punch. Another is to use 10 bits per character. The send-head close the keyer for each "mark" pin, then clears the pin. It stops when it has no more mark pins. The last (which I tend to use in Morse-sending code) is to send a dit for a zero and a dah for a one, except for the last bit, which is ignored, but allows 1000 (read right to left) to be ... (S) and 1111 to be --- (O), etc. There is a little more complexity in the read/send head, but you can store all common characters and digraphs to fit in 7 or 8 bits (pins), for more flexibility and fewer fiddly pins.
How's that for a digression? To further digress, in the same time-frame as that article, were usually advertisements foe Frederick Electronics, touting their Morse<->Baudot gateways. Electronic, but fascinating.
Re: You need to be thinking *phototypesetter,* not Linotype if you want to go that way.
> Linotype machines are not desk sized.
You clearly have never seen some of the desks on Mahogany Row. Besides, a good bit of the bulk is the melting pot and casting operation. Not to mention the expanding spaces. I think we can do without full justification.
> What you've missed about Linotype m/cs is they cope with unlimited copies by casting lead copies of the raw font forms.
Didn't actually miss that. Met my first Linotype in 1958 or so. Picked up a fresh slug. Anyway, my point ws that the basic ideas behind coded slugs and automated sorting would provide a way of storing the characters in a way that could be read back. Useful for operations like "delete character". I'm not sure how you propose to implement sceen-edit with a phototypsetter. Not to mention how you plan to develop each frame (Although there was a Vctorian-era camera with built-in developer. Sort of like a proto-Polaroid).
> Consider the proverbial 24 * 80 display.
My first non-printing display was more like 12x72, or even 8x40, but agreed, the matrix (or character) magazines would need to be large. OTOH:
> That's 1920 copies of any character to cover all the possibilities.
Well, a screen ful of AAAAAA would be a bit boring. and I suspect that the 48 characters typical of early (pre 1960 or so) Data Processing equipment would do for a character set. BTW: I've seen older books which substituted characters, possibly when the supply of, e.g. 'Q' ran out while setting a page. Not to mention the common use of lower-case l for numeral one, and occasionally upper-case O for numeral zero.Humans are adaptable.
"The tiles would have unique notches or teeth on the back, allowing the machine to read the text, and also sort the tiles back into the correct trays when they were deleted from the display."
Linotype matrices already have coded notches (albeit on the top) for precisely the purpose of sorting the them back into the magazine. 19th century tech FTW.
I agree that combining display with storage is a big win. As our host has mentioned, the hard part is the RAM. On that note, if anyone can help me find info on a keyboard driven Morse Keyer with FIFO buffer (to smooth out sending speed), purely mechanical, I'd appreciate it.
Please, no pointers to the punched-tape systems or machines implemented with PICs or PCs, or even the rash of surplus-electronics versions in the 1960s. This thing was briefly mentioned in QST in the 1960s or so, and seemed to have implemented the FIFO in some sort of drum, probably like a re-writeable pin-drum (ala music box). Very 1890s, or 1920s at the latest.
Re: Laserscan HRD-1
Interesting. Sounds similar to, but different in many details from, the Greyhawk Soft Plotter.
Sorry for the long URL that might get mangled in the forum, but its the first "natural" result for the three words I used (Greyhawk Soft Plotter). For those disinclined to wade through it, this used lasers and mirror galvanometers like the Laserscan, but "wrote" on an LCD which was then projected. For the "absolutely no electricty" crowd, well, yes, this use electricity for biasing the LCD. I think collimated limelight would sub for the lasers, though. Oh, and Mirror galvanometerss were IIRC, invented by Lord Kelvin back before he was Lord Kelvin, for use on the Transatlantic telegraph. Yeah, the one that was used to send a message from Queen Victorian to Franklin Pierce. To me, "Steampunk" at its best is, pretty much. "Victorian Tech". The whole "no electricity" thing smacks of the various hacks used to _technically_ avoid forbidden activities on the Sabbath. Or the air-driven routers used by Amish woodworkers (for carving wood, not hooking their air-driven tablets to air-driven internet)
Re: Note printers and punch cards were viable by the 1850s
My father worked with some fluidic computers, albeit typically analog ones. He was an auto mechanic specializing in automatic transmissions.
You'd really want to run any steam-punk fluidics with oil or air, rather than actual steam. I shudder at the thought of designing a multi-layer logic block to account for pressure drop along the way due to condensation.
Let me know if one of these barges heads for the Philipines.
Dates for SteamPunk
There seems to be a wide variety of assumed time periods. Most of the steampunk I see these days amount to glueing fake cogs on an iphone case. Anyway, on to the technical stuff:
1) The Difference Engine(s) built by the Science Musem were _not_ built of modern materails and processes. They had "the Beautiful Fragment" (Demo model of the calculation section of Difference Engine 1), so could analyze both the materials and the variation in tolerance. Difference engine #2 was built from the same materials and parts were (if need be) hand-filed to final profile. The only "cheat" that I know of was the use of Laser etching for the numbers on the wheels, which are only used for setting and debug. Unless you want to assert that Clements and Whitworth would have been unable to find someone to etch numerals in 1830s London, I don't think that "hack" is germane. The main problems, to the best of my knowledge had to do with the design being too ambitious (DE1 would have had less numeric precision and yet used three times as many parts), and some "personality issues", not uncommon in startups.
Before Babbage was born, at about the beginning of the age of Steam (Boulton/Watt engine) Pierre Jaquet-Droz. built the Writer Automaton. There's a nice video of it in operation at
including enough to see the basic principles. Substitute chalk for ink and Robert is your parent's sibling.
Although The Writer wrote a message from "ROM", that ROM was changeable (as can be seen in the video), and basically served to position the cam-stack for the each character. Substitute a receiver/selector like that on the Teletype (last major change in 1925, first plausible "single wire serial" implementation about 1900). If you've ever taken a Teletype from the Model 15 to the 37 (1925 to early 1970s), you can see that there is very little "electrical" about them. Just about anything could wiggle the "magnet" arm, and it's all mechanical from there on.
Or consider the Linotype, which you can see in action in this trailer:
Clearly, fully formed characters are an advantage, and the main cost of extending to multiple rows would be enlarged matrix magazines. But since one would be reading the characters directly, the "matrices" could be less detailed and the whole "hot lead in your lap" aspect could be skipped.
Anyway my main point was that "the age of Steam" lasted long enough to overlap with the age of nifty automata in the 18th century, and the age of Electricity in the late 19th. And of course a lot of electricity is still generated by steam, produced by Coal, Nuclear, Solar, etc. energy. How about a Steampunk Breeder reactor to drive this thing?
Re: End the Drug War or No More Debt
Actually, the pushers (the ones well-connected to bent LEOs) are the biggest fans of the War On Drugs. If their tame coppers didn't have a completely legal and very public way to put their competition out of business, they wouldn't get that "hazard bonus" for their goods.
You'll be wanting to read up on the work of Kenneth R. Shoulders then.
He was looking into building structures, including processors, from plasma back in the early 1960s.
Havin a laff?
Or are many commentards here genuinely unaware that Thomas (the blind) Dolby has less relation to Ray (the inventor) Dolby than Francis (The Artist) Bacon has to Francis (the subject of so many conspiracy theories) Bacon. At least Francis the younger was born a Bacon.
Polonius is neither Hamlet nor Shakespeare
That last bit of the article ("to thine own self be true...") was written by Will (or Francis :-), but the words were put in the mouth of Polonius, and were intended (AFAIK) to lampoon the sort of pretentious twaddle dished out by self-help gurus then as now. The fact that they are _still_ quoted, without irony, but such folks just proves the bard's point. But I would have expected Brit journos to have actually seen, or read, the play they are quoting.
Re: Applying that idea to documentation
At one time, many governments have had "inventory taxes", paid on the value of goods available for sale, but not those in transit. At least one company I know of found it worthwhile to rent semitrailers, load them with goods for "inventory day", and unload them the next day. Apparently this started out with actual transit, but some legal decision held that just being loaded _for_ transit was sufficient to dodge the tax. The one company I know of doing this was a major computer manufacturer, since deceased, whose first computers used delay-line memory.
As for "those oldsters", note that the maximum latency (in CPU clock cycles) for a memory access today is in the same range as that of a delay-line or drum-memory computer. That's why "All programming can be viewed as an exercise in caching".
And CRT (Williams-Kilburn) memories did not use photodiodes. The phosphor itself stored the "bits" via secondary emission. Early analog-addressedd DRAM.
Full Contact Pinball
Not sure about the PC, but Atari (Coin-op) made a pair of Video Pinball machines with a decently-simulated "shooter" (IMHO) and a "nudge" switch in the (very slightly) movable control-panel. The first (Disco-themed, based on the Middle Earth playfield) was called simply "Video Pinball", and sold decently but not spectacularly. The second, "Solar War" (based on the Superman playfield) was ready for production at about the time as Asteroids, so was never sold (although I heard a rumor that 300+ "kits" of electronics were sold to a Greek distributor). Having played both, I can say that the "feel", while not really up to the full mechanical experience, is miles ahead of a console or PC game, and the one I have (sadly, with broken nudge switch) is still running. Unlike my two previous "real" pinball machines.
EDSAC is also 100 this year
If you are the sort of person who realizes that thumbs are not fingers.
In a more serious vein, Manchester Baby was more a "proof of concept", while EDSAC was intended from the get-go as a serious tool. Not to take away from either, but get 10 history buffs in one room and you'll probably get 11 opinions on "First computer", depending on the qualifiers.
And... "UNIVAC" used tubes/valves. The (later) "Univac Solid State" computer, a.k.a SS80 and SS90 (as used by Don Knuth and Grace Hopper, among others) was the one with the diode-core logic (and, yes, 6 power tetrodes on the "clock", and over 50 Thyratrons in the printer). It was also the first computer I modded, although not the first I ever programmed.
Re: Trailblazing a pointless device
Having a watch support standard profiles is still pointless if the carriers (I'm looking at _YOU_ Verizon) disable those profiles in the phones (Not that Apple seem to need much external motivation). About the only way such carriers will ever allow nifty stuff on your watch is if it has to connect to your phone via their network, and you will need to buy a separate data plan for it.
Re: VMS ... on the Raspberry Pi."
Running on an emulator might be fun, but does not really lead to the state of the art in OS design advancing. I would indeed love to see VMS open-sourced, and worked on by folks like the OpenBSD crowd.
As for "forking is hard work", it _should_ be hard work. What started out as a way to minimize swap-disk load on the XDS940 by taking a "copy it all, let the child sort it out" approach to a process creation, instead pf a proper remote procedure call, has led to a lot of ugliness as we moved from a "one CPU, many users" to "one user, many CPUs" world.
Re: Next stop: Logan, Utah!
One word: "TenFourFox ". Google/Bing/Blekko it. There's life in that old iBook.
Not to mention that, unlike newer Mac's you can plug a USB serial or parallel port into it and bang about with attached hardware, without finding the manufacturer's site to download a driver. And it is unlikely to "walk away" unless your neighborhood is filled with very un-tech-savvy yoof.
US DHS has some advantage over China PLA
Although I suppose the PLA _could_extort your private info out of Google and the like by imprisoning Larry and Sergei until they knuckle under, it's a whole lot easier for US entities to do so. All espionage (or crime, or business) is subject to benefit/cost analysis. Unless you are doing something that makes it worthwhile for the malefactor to target you, you don't need to outrun the bear. Some malefactors get great discounts on operations within their own countries. Some give/get "friends and family" discounts too (NZ, UK, USA)
Re: Just blame BP
-- Britain subcontracting patrolling of the Atlantic during WW2 to the Germans --
Fair's fair. IIRC, a Standard Oil (U.S.) tanker was caught refueling a U boat.
The company claimed it was a rogue captain what done it, but I have to imagine a bit more security than leaving the keys to ships on a hook at the guard shack.
Chat, Power, and frog-boiling
To the chap who extolls chat for its anti-weasel properties (logging what was said by whom), I note that a former coworker (still at the weasel-farm I left years ago) has informed me that they are now forbidden to log chats. Not surprising from a company that shunned email for coordination in favor of flaky wikis and meetings that reliably started 18 minutes after the scheduled time and consisted mainly of "Oh, did you expect me to do that? I'll get to it this week." repeated weekly.
The pictured dock gave me shudders as it seems that all device manufacturers have taken up the position that Toshiba took in 2000, when I was shocked to be told, after the battery in a month-old laptop had failed, that it was my fault, as I was not meant to leave it on the adapter/charger once it was fully charged, and by doing so I had killed the battery. SInce I was familiar with IBM and Apple laptops that could be "docked" for days and still retain full capacity, I thought Toshiba were clueless feebs, but my most recent Apple laptop has the same sort of warning. I'd hate to think how often one would need to replace the battery in a docked iPad.
Voice Quality? I pine for that days that a phone, while far from perfect, did not regularly sound as if the call to Dave in Accounting was via satellite to Ulan Bator. I wonder how bad voice quality will get once all us old farts who can remember those days have gone permanently on-hook.
Re: Has It been a year already?
-- Not that Gmail is remotely intuitive until you've used it daily for a month
Wait, there was a month during which gmail's interface was reasonably stable?
I've been on gmail since back when you needed to be invited (fortuitously right about when my previous ISP was going titsup), and all I recall is an endless round of "Now, where did they hide that functionality this week?" and later "WTF can possibly take so long to load". Still miles ahead of any of my other webmail accounts, but...
I've gone pretty much completely to IMAP today, other than that day when gmail IMAP would not work until one had logged into the the web interface and clicked the "Yeah, I see what you did there" button to "accept" that they had hidden yet more commonly-used actions behind a layer of indirection.
Based on other comments, IMAP does not (yet?) work for HoTMail. As a former Outlook (and OWA) victim, I feel their pain.
Silicon Valley is not Heaven
So, just to say, I don't think living here normally provides an illusion of living in the future. Working for a major company and having "Business class" ($100+/month) service, paid by your employer, might.
You might want to check with the lady above left about how secure such systems are.
Anybody who cares can probably find all the answers to a typical company's "security questions" for any person who even has a presence on the Internet. (My first use of the Paris icon, but then, you don't have Ms Palin)
Yeah, what's with that loss figure?
The loss does seem excessive. I recall several years ago some boffins at MIT did this sort of thing, just in time for the collapse of broadband market. So, since their main (achieved) goal was low loss (hence increased repeater spacing) they pivoted to selling the stuff for surgical laser guides. It seems folks get uncomfortable with the waste heat from conventional fiber delivering surgical power levels.
Now _there's_ a vivid image. Canadian MPs huddled in the cellar, beset by ravening hordes of ActiveX-infested voters. At least they may be "exchanged for masses of people out of control", which sounds much more amenable to paid political advertisments.
Re: Penguins console
If it's a boot problem, more like ash, or busybox.
BTW: Back when I was "qualifying" servers, and writing tests for add-in cards, it was not unusual to get a demand that my tests run under DOS (Usually FreeDOS). Apparently many manufacturers don't like taking the time to boot either Linux or Windows. Big fun explaining how a DOS program to test a 10Gbit NIC with 64-bit DMA was going to cost them.
And yes, I ran across Mobos that had lots of "PCIe" slots, which were only "qualified" as graphics card slots. That is, "We do not respond to bug reports when anything but one of our approved video cards is plugged in to those slots. Oh, and some "8-lane" slots were on the far side of a 1-lane HT link.
Re: the 'expected distance' for car keys would be very small
You need to be far enough to sustain minimal damage when the pipe-bomb wired to the starter goes off.
Or at least that's the use-case I would expect for at least some buyers of keyless starters, in some lines of business.
There's a reason it was often referred to in house as "StoneVision". :-)
BTW: the Amiga was designed by Ex-Atarians, while the ST was designed by ex-Commodore folks. Corporate shenanigans lead to strange bedfellows. (And that's not even counting the ice swan left in a certain Marketing VP's bed)
About those Windmills
ISTR Cervantes was actually making a point with them. The windmills in his vicinity were run as government monopolies, with home-milling forbidden, so that taxes could be levied on all grain, even that used by the farmer and his family. The fact that the monopolistic millers could now charge exorbitant rates for the milling itself, and were all "connected" to the rulers, was, I'm sure, a mere unintended consequence.
Re: Nice try, but consider
Start/stop bits are not needed for 8b/10b encoding. There are more than 256 usuable k-codes, so some are used for IDLE and other SYNC purposes. (Pedants: yes, things get more complicated with multi-lane versions)
That said, I do wish they had made this RFC1926 compliant.
1) EDSAC had Wheeler's "Initial Orders" from pretty much the beginning. This provided a Higher Level (than toggling in binary) language somewhat like a Forth assembler, and a subroutine library on paper tape. EDSAC was also based less on ENIAC than on EDVAC, although that machine did not appear until later.
2) While I agree that the PDP-8 was very significant, small (i.e. fridge-sized) computers such as the LGP-30 and G-15 (designed by harry Huskey, who had worked with Turing) pre-date it. They did, however, cost about the same as a suburban single-family house (still cheap at the time), while the PDP-8 could be had for the price of a (very nice) auto.
Re: How about ..
Problem with "Sender" and "Receiver" is that in most non-trivial cases, there are multiple messages, sent both ways. So it really helps to assign fixed names to the endpoints rather than names that depend on only one message of a group. Thinking back to Modems, even half-duplex ones could both send and receive, just not at the same time. What distinguished roles in the original call setup were "originate" and "answer".
(Me for symmetry. I even like the concept of the old hermaphroditic connectors on IBM channels, although I suppose today they'd be forbidden in U.S. government installations due to the Defense of Marriage Act)
Tech vs Legal jargon
I assume from the comments that many have not actually read any patents. They are most definitely not written in Tech Jargon. They are written in their own special dialect of Legal Jargon. I can barely recognize the inventions at the base of my own patents, so what hope does a jury of non-patent-lawyers have?
And yes, it doesn't help that juries are expressly forbidden to use anything that they know independently of the testimony. That leads me to wonder how one could inject his own definition of "prior art". In theory, you are not even allowed to know that the sun sets rather later than 6PM in mid-summer, if neither side introduced that in testimony
Re: I'm still hurting
Seconded (well, fifthed, from the other comments). Looking better would not help. They need to actually go back to making non-crap products. Not that it would really help with me. They are dead to me after my last (home) all-in-one and constant pain of their blade servers.
Why buy it?
"Greater Fool" theory, I suppose. Mind you, I was apparently the greater fool back in the early 80s when a mate had three of these for sale, asking $75 each. If I had bought all three maybe today I'd have a chance at a house near the new FaceBook HQ. Well, a small one. But I didn't even buy one. Sigh.
I'd like to see a laptop that delivers on battery life measured in calendar months as well as running hours. My daughter's "Space Clam" iBook could sit on her homework desk, plugged in, for weeks at a time, then be unplugged and get 4 hours on the battery charge. My mid-2000 Toshiba killed its battery after less than a month of such use, and while Toshiba replaced it, they chided me for expecting any different. Now everybody seems to take the same line: "You _must_ unplug when the battery is fully charged, and re-plug when it is close to fully drained, or we cannot guarantee battery life". IIRC my Thinkpad T-40 worked decently, too. Later Dell and Apple laptops, not so much.
So what is it that at least Apple and IBM used to know about chargers and power management, that everybody has forgotten?
Before cat's whiskers ...
we had coherers. Typically called "Branly Coherers", due to Stigler's law ( Nothing is ever named for its actual discoverer). That's for the receiver. Transmitters were spark-gaps, internationally forbidden in the 1920s, but I have beside me as I type a toy using both these items, from the 1950s.
Also from the 1950s (and more relevant) Sylvania's ceramic multi-component modules (think: macro-scale I.C.s). incorporating thermionic valves, and intended for space use.
Re: Yes, DRAM
You seem to be mixing generations in your mind. Back when DRAM was multi-supply and only 4Kx1, contemporary SRAM might also be multi-supply (or slow, we're talking pre-ion-implant days), and only 1K bits, e.g. 256x4. So to get the same number of bits of memory, you needed more chips.
Yes, there were "toy" computers with only 256 bytes of RAM, but seriously, 1K bytes was a minimum practical system (for some definition of "practical", like "able to run Tom Jennings' MicroChess"), and that would have been 8 256x4s or 8 1Kx1's no matter how you sliced it.
If you are going to compare devices without taking time of introduction into account, you might as well ask why IBM was faffing around with "spinning rust" back in the early 1950s when 32Gig flash drives are so cheap.
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