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May 15, 2022

Multitasking: we all do it. For a feature of modern computing multitasking has surprisingly old roots. It started out as timesharing on vacuum tube based machines, reached ubiquity on large computers, then hit a wall: the microcomputer. Multitasking didn't smoothly transition over as soon as home computers hit...


May 1, 2022

There's power in music, but not all tones are created equal. During the reign of Bell Telephone there was one tone in particular that opened up a world of possibilities: 2600 Hz. The devotees of this note were called phreakers, and in some cases they knew the telephone system better than Bell employees themselves. This...


Apr 17, 2022

When people talk about early computers Babbage's Analytical Engine is bound to come up. Designed back in the 1830's it's definitely older than any other example of the art. But it also has a lot of strikes against it. The machine was purely mechanical. It only really did math. It stored numbers in decimal instead of...


Apr 3, 2022

We're getting back to my hypertext series with a big of an obscure tale. ZOG is a hypertext system what was first developed in 1972 at Carnegie-Melon University. It then stagnated until the latter half of the 1970s when it was picked back up. By 1983 it was cruising on a US Navy aircraft carrier. ZOG presents a...


Mar 20, 2022

Programming doesn't have to be a very serious discipline. In fact, sometimes it's better if it's a little silly. Today we are talking about INTERCAL, the first esoteric programming language. Is it a joke? Is it a form of hacker folk art? Is it even a good language? To answer those questions we need to asses what makes...