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RIP Bill Godbout: Cali wildfire claims the life of master maverick of microcomputers

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

The name rang a bell in the headlines - back then it was familiar from the ads in Byte.

S-100 was transformative. Although our 48K box was only about 1/6th of the number of bits on the 1907 at QUB a few years back it was still a table-top box compared to the 6' or thereabouts cabinet holding just the memory of the mainframe. Add in things like an ADC card and there was the capability to build instrumentation that would have cost a fortune to buy from HP or Perkin Elmer even if it had been in their catalogues, which it wasn't.

Not only did the table-top box amount to a sufficient fraction of a mainframe it also had a compiler for the same language, FORTRAN but without the restrictions of punched cards, 100K disk allocations and 3 runs a day. In less than 10 years computing had made a leap forward in accessibility which really hasn't been matched since. The advances in miniaturisation and computing power have all too often been matched by losses in flexibility by way of productisation.

Put me down as another whose life was altered for ever by Bill Godbout and his peers.

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