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2004 PC prediction from 1954 Popular Mechanics Magazine

Discussion in 'Tech Talk' started by NRA_guy, Nov 24, 2004.

  1. NRA_guy

    NRA_guy Unreconstructed

    Jun 20, 2004
    Mississippi, CSA
    From a 1954 Popular Mechanics Magazine

    Only difference the steering wheel was replaced by a mouse, and (I'm sad to say, Fortran was abandoned for Windows.

    Be sure to read the caption below the picture.


    I'm optimistic that in the next 50 years they will get cell phones to actually work.

  2. Tvov


    Sep 30, 2000

  3. Anon1


    Aug 17, 2000
    I think it is a hoax. I can't think of any reason why any computer from any era would have the gauges and a steering wheel like that. I think it is a training deal for some kind of system, like a nuke power plant.
  4. My mother was a computer programmer here in D.C. for the government in 1959.She says that the wall panel and console are accurate but she thinks the steering wheel and overhead monitor must be concepts for the future.
  5. NRA_guy

    NRA_guy Unreconstructed

    Jun 20, 2004
    Mississippi, CSA
    They sure got me that time.

    Acording to snopes, it's a nuclear sub control panel PhotoShopped to black and white, with an old teletype and TV pasted in.

    I usually check things out. It just never occurred to me that anyone would spend the time and effort to do something so pointless.


  6. sdakota

    sdakota señor member

    Sep 5, 2001
    Here, Now
    Yeah it got me when I first saw it because the whole picture "looks old".

    I think the pin-feed paper, then the terminal/printer finally tipped me off.

    I guess there's no shortage of people with too much time on their hands creating pointless stuff like this !

    As a sidenote, at my first job in computers (1976), I used a terminal even more primitive than the one in the picture.

    It was designated SP0 - Serial Printer zero, pronounced so it rhymed with "toe".

    Instead of pin-feed paper it used a roll almost like wider, sturdier toilet paper.

    At the end of my shift, I'd roll up the "sp0log" that had a printed trail of everything I had typed in and each response I got back - literally a paper trail of everything I did.

    I didn't get my hands on a real life CRT tube for a couple of years after that.

    Sorry for rambling on, but Heck, I'm a grandpa so I've earned the right to ramble !

  7. 10 Ring Tao

    10 Ring Tao Red White Blue

    Sep 18, 2003
    Southeast Michigan
    I was gonna say, it looks mighty photoshopped to me.
  8. NRA_guy

    NRA_guy Unreconstructed

    Jun 20, 2004
    Mississippi, CSA
    Hey ramble on. In fact, I'll join you.

    My first computer access was at Ole Miss. Their main (only) computer in 1965 was an IBM (can't remember the model). Data entry was punched cards and all output was punched cards. You then took your output stack of cards over to a separate card printer and ran them through to get printout. You reserved the computer for half hour increments during the night. (The school ran it's billing and stuff all day on it.) I would walk across the deserted campus at 1:30 a.m. and be the only person in the whole building. Everything was written in FORTRAN.

    My next access was an IBM 360 at Mississippi State.

    Then after graduation, I accessed computers via the latest thing: "time sharing" using a 10 character per second teletype terminal and a 110 baud dial up modem that you placed the phone handset in. Data entry was via punched tape---a real advance over cards. Man, we thought we were rolling.

    I still like FORTRAN for programs, but nobody actually computes on computers anymore. They only click around and surf the net and do GlockTalk things.

    Thanks for the comments.

    PS: The TV looks like the old Mototola dad bought around 1953 just after we got electricity.

  9. cgwahl

    cgwahl Sheriffs a near

    Feb 15, 2002

    That was your first mistake...;f

  10. Sinister Angel

    Sinister Angel I'd Hit It!

    Oct 11, 2004
    Traverse City, Michigan
    I could tell instantly that it was about something for a ship due to the fact I saw a chadburn. I mean seriously, why the **** would a computer have a chadburn.

    For those of you who don't know what a chadburn is, it's the little gauge thing in the upper right of the steering wheel with the knob. This is also known as the engine order telegraph. Basicly it lets the engine room know what the bridge wants to do.
  11. gwalchmai

    gwalchmai Lucky Member

    Jan 9, 2002
    Outside the perimeter
    That's interesting. I once worked on a Burroughs B3500 system which used a SPO for a user interface. SPO stood for "Supervisory Printer Output", and was essentially a teletype with a paper reel printer.

    Ahh, fond memories... ;)
  12. sdakota

    sdakota señor member

    Sep 5, 2001
    Here, Now
    That is interesting, gwalchmai.

    I was talking about a Burroughs B1700, so the SPO was the same type of device. It's quite likely I am disremembering what SPO stood for, or was told the wrong thing way back when.

    Fond memories, indeed, but possibly faulty in my case ! :)


    We also had a B500, which was even more primitive than the B1700. It had all the registers displayed as lights on the front of the console, and you could poke in new values, too.
    If you were really good at machine language, you could enter a program directly into core memory, one instruction at a time.

    There was one program that had not been coded properly and had no end-of-file routine for reading punched cards.
    It would hang on a read of the card-reader and I had to punch in a branch to the address of the correct next command.

    That felt like real computing when I could bitfiddle an executing program !

    NRA_guy - it's amazing to reflect back on what we considered state-of-the art back then !
    Now we have more computing power in our watches and toasters than those old room-sized mainframes had !

    I'm glad things have advanced as far as they have, though.
    Can you imagine surfing the web at 110 baud ? ;P
  13. NRA_guy

    NRA_guy Unreconstructed

    Jun 20, 2004
    Mississippi, CSA
    Yeah, the first computer guys I used to work with were thrilled at the fact they could punch in code in octal rather than binary. That was a major leap to them.

    Here's a trip down memory lane with IBM

    The first one I used was an IBM 1401. Then I moved up to a 360-mod 40. Then the Federal government ruled that IBM couldn't donate mainframes to universities any longer. It was an IBM marketing strategy: after working with them in college, the graduates tended to only buy IBMs when they got into the business world. GE/Honeywell was having trouble competing.

    Last month I made the sarcastic comment in a staff meeting at work that if we would pull the plugs on all the PCs, shut down the cell phones and pagers and BlackBerries, eliminate all the automated phone answering and recording systems, eliminate email, and require folks to work fixed hours (9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday), our costs would go down and productivity would go up 100%.

    I got one of those Dilbert looks. Maybe I have stayed too long. (We run several supercomputers at work and everbody has 1 to 3 PCs on his desk.)

    Thanks for the feedback.