A Magic Box of Your Very Own:

A look at the box and the people that use it

In 1943, Thomas Watson, the Chairman of IBM, said, "I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." (Lindsay) If only he had known that today that millions of people are using them to connect with one another. The computer has changed life. In some ways it is for the better and in some ways it is for the worse.

In 1889 "Herman Hollerith's Electric Tabulating System outperforms the competition and in the fall is selected for use in the 1890 census." ("Comphist a2") Herman later goes on in 1896 to start the "Tabulating machine company, later to be called IBM". ("comphist a2") In 1940 "The Z2 Computer of Zuse becomes the first fully functioning electromechanical computer." ("Comphist a3") In March of 1943, the "first contracts between U.S. Army and the Moore School for the production of the ENIAC (the Electrical Numerical Integrator and Computer) for use in computing ballistics tables." When it was done, "by spring" of 1945, "it weighed thirty tons, occupied a thirty-by-fifty space, contained 18,000 vacuum tubes, used subroutines, and could perform 360 multiplications per second." ("Comphist a3") The uses and power of this machine were best said when its patent was filed in "June 1947" which goes as follows:

"...With the advent of everyday use of elaborate calculations, speed has become paramount to such a high degree that there is no machine on the market today capable of satisfying the full demand of modern computational methods. The most advanced machines have greatly reduced the time required for arriving at solutions to problems which might have required months or days by older procedures. This advance, however, is not adequate for many problems encountered in modern scientific work and the present invention is intended to reduce to seconds such lengthy computations..." ("ENIAC")
"In 1948 the government's chief scientist initiated a government contract with Ferranti Ltd. to make a production version of the Manchester Mark 1", ("Ferranti") which was built between "1947 and 1948" that was one of the first types of a "stored-program computer." ("Manchester") The sales brochure for this computer gave a measurement of its speed and reliability as follows,
"An operator with a standard desk calculating machine can do about 500 multiplications of pairs of ten-digit decimal numbers in an average working day. The Ferranti machine can do about the same amount of work in two seconds. In a day it could do more arithmetic than the average man could do in many years, and will make fewer mistakes." ("Sales Literature")
Despite as impressive as this may seem, the computer, like everything, has a strong chance of failure. The computer industry seems to follow one major law. That law is Murphy's Law. "If there is a possibility of several things going [wrong, the one that will cause the most damage will be the one to go wrong. " and "Corollary: If there is a worse time for something to go wrong, it will happen then." ("Murphy's") On September 9th 1945, at Harvard University, a "moth was found trapped between points at Relay # 70, Panel F, of the Mark II Aiken Relay Calculator while it was being tested at Harvard University" ("Does not"). The bug was then removed and affixed to the Logbooks (See fig.1). Grace Murray Hopper, second in charge of the project and "Mother of Modern Computing" ("does not") said the following about the event, "Finally, someone located the trouble spot and, using ordinary tweezers, removed the problem, a two-inch moth. From then on, when anything went wrong with a computer, we said it had bugs in it." ("Does not"). During the elections, on "November" 4th, "1952", at "8:30" PM, "one pundit was now projecting 100-1 odds that Dwight D. Eisenhower would win by a landslide. That pundit wasn't a human being, however. It was the Univac I, the only general-purpose computer of its day." ("Univac Predicts") This was one of the major advances in introducing people to the computer.
"The first run of the numbers had predicted an electoral vote of 438 for Eisenhower and 93 for Stevenson. The official count was 442 for Eisenhower and 89 for Stevenson -- an error of less than 1%. On the popular vote, the Univac projected a total of 32,915,000 nods for Eisenhower, which was only about 3% off the official total of 33,936,252." ("Univac Predicts")
This accuracy showed news broadcasters the power and potential use for computers. "Higher power programmable computer, but the math theory hasn't caught up with it yet. Fuzzy Logic (like for predicting elections) not invented yet. Still a tool for math and science. " (Athalon) Which directly affected how people viewed computers as a whole. Following that, in 1956, "The era of magnetic storage dawns with IBM's shipment of a 305 RAMAC to Zellerbach Paper in San Fransisco." (Mueller 12). "Tape storage means the first data processing. Not `live', but batch programs. Monitors don't exist yet. `Databases', the interactive sort, don't exist. But at least it's useful for businesses. Barely." (Athalon) Magnetic storage is now used primarily in hard disk drives and floppy disks in modern computers. In 1958, "Jack Killby Creates the first integrated Circuit at Texas Instruments to prove that resistors and capacitors can exist on the same piece of semiconductor material." (13) Integrated circuits, or chips, are used in modern computers now as well. In 1960 "Bell labs designs its Dataphone, the first commercial Modem, specifically for converting digital computer data to analog signals for transmission across its long-distance network." (13) The modem is a device that is used now to connect to the Internet, which shall be discussed later on. In 1969 "The root of what is to become the Internet begins when the department of defense establishes four nodes on the ARPAnet: tow at University of California campuses (one at Santa Barbara and one at Los Angeles) and one each at SRI International and the University of Utah." (13) This is a major accomplishment in the beginning of the infrastructure of the Internet. In 1972 Steve Wozniak builds his "Blue box," a tone generator to make free phone calls." (13) This event shows the beginning of the supposed dark side of computer culture. In 1973 the personal computer known as the "Micral" makes its way into the world. It is based on the "Intel 8008 microprocessor" introduced a year before (13). Two years later, "Telenet, the first commercial packet-switching network and civilian equivalent of ARPAnet, is born." (14) In 1976, Steve Wozniak (whom built the blue box three years earlier) builds the "Apple 1"(14), and starts Apple computer, which makes the "Apple II"(14) the following year, (This computer also dominated Glastonbury's School System for some time), and the "Macintosh" in "1984"(14), which shall be discussed later on. In 1980, "John Shoch, at the Xerox Palo Alto Research center, invents the computer `worm,' a short program that searches a network for idle processors."(14) This worm is the first of the viruses that have become familiar with the negatives of computers. In the same year "Seagate Technology creates the first hard disk drive for microcomputers, the ST-506." The following year "IBM introduces its PC, igniting a fast growth of the personal computer market. The IBM PC is the Grandfather of all modern PCs." (14) The interesting thing about the IBM was that "it was the first one built from off the shelf parts (called open architecture) and marketed by outside distributors (Sears & Roebucks and Computerland)" ("The IBM PC"). Oddly, "Less than four months after IBM introduced the PC, Time Magazine named the computer "man of the year" ("The IBM PC"). It ran on Intel's "8088 microprocessor" at a clock speed of "4.77mhz". It had "one or two 160k floppy disk drives and an optional color monitor." For memory it came with "16 kilobytes" and "was expandable to 256k." "Cheap computer, so the masses can have one. Monitors, so it's interactive, not a batch deal. Popular, so hobbiests start writing games. Home users now can do things that only businesses could use computers for. Lots of user programs, database applications, communications apps (muds). `User Friendly' is invented, because before, the user didn't matter in the whole deal." (Athalon) In 1984, Apple computer released the Macintosh, its major differences between itself and the PC is
"First, there was the mouse, just like Lisa had. In fact, Apple was so adamant that you use the mouse that the early Mac keyboard had no arrow keys. (The Ctrl key was also a later innovation.) Then there was that 3.5" floppy drive storing 400KB of date -- 25% more than the 320KB 5.25" disks in the IBM world, but when you turned it on, the Macintosh showed it's greatest difference, a graphical user interface. Although similar to the interface from the Lisa, the Mac used square pixels, making it far easier to accurately map graphics to the screen." ("Macintosh History")
This new computer was run on "It was built around the new Motorola 68000 chip, which was significantly faster than previous processors, running at 8 MHz." ("Apple Macintosh") which made its speed about 1.67 times faster then its competitor, IBM. It had a different architecture than the IBM PC, so none of the software available for it was available for the PC. During the Superbowl of that year it made one of, what is considered, the greatest commercials ever. Directed by "Ridley Scott" ("Ken M. Kuhl"), whom directed "Alien and Blade Runner"("Macintosh Marketing") based on a novel of the same title by George Orwell, it suggested, "the Big Brother and IBM were one and the same." ("Ken M. Kuhl"). The commercial hadn't been too successful. After "seventy-four" days, "50,000" units had sold. In the following year, however, the Macintosh "received a big sales boost with the introduction of the LaserWriter printer and Aldus PageMaker, home desktop publishing was now possible." ("History of the Apple") On the other side of the Graphical User Interface game, there was Microsoft, and Microsoft had Windows. "On November 10, 1983, Microsoft announced Microsoft Windows, an extension of the MS-DOS operating system that would provide a graphical operating environment for PC users." ("Windows") This allowed people using the IBM PC, and its clones, to run a graphical user interface. In 1993, Microsoft introduced windows for workgroups 3.11 that "added peer-to-peer workgroup and domain networking support." ("Windows") "Now the big change here is all about making it easy. Not just possible, easy. This is on the road to making the computer something that you think with, not just something that sits on the desk. It's more personal." (Athalon) This networking support began a level of connectivity that was a much harder task to accomplish before this. In 1995, Microsoft introduced Windows 95. "Windows 95 included an integrated 32-bit TCP/IP stack for built-in Internet support, dial-up networking, and new Plug and Play capabilities that made it easy for users to install hardware and software." ("Windows") The built in Internet support allowed the common mass to connect to the Internet. But, before the Internet, there was the Bulletin Board Service, or BBS for short. The BBS, created in "1978" by "Ward Christensen" ("BBS history"), was popular in the 1980's which was a text only form of the internet it evolved into today. Text files were of the most popular things to download. The "Why does this Matter" page, from www.textfiles.com explains this well:
There are some ugly things down in these archives; there are narcissistic ravings from pre-adolescent social misfits. There are calls for anarchy. There's satanism, there's racism, there's all the -isms in the book lurking in the words. But there's hope, too. There's excitement, there's joy, there's every manner of feeling being crammed down into ASCII and posted for the world to find. It's a spectrum of humanity, and this is what I hope you'll find, buried there, among the text." ("Textfiles")
Towards the middle of the 1990's, the BBS was nearing its end. The "graphics-oriented World Wide Web" ("BBS history") was attracting users from the text only BBS. America Online, now a major ISP, released a "DOS version" ("AOL a history") in February of 1991. Two years later it released a "windows version" ("AOL a history") of its Internet connection software. Also in 1993, "Jan Brandt starts sending AOL disks in the mail." ("AOL a history") This is a major event in the history of the Internet. These disks are a major piece of US culture. Everyone has received one of these disks in the mail as they receive credit card applications in the mail. This is the beginnings of a major advancement at getting people online. Now everyone who owns or doesn't even own a computer has the chance at now getting online. Other Internet service providers included Prodigy and CompuServe Internet. Whenever there is a form of communication, a culture grows around it. As is true with the Internet. All cultures can be good and they can be bad. A wise person said,
"Like anything, the Internet has a dark and seedy side too. It's a tool, and people can use it for bad intentions as well as good. People use it to deceive...for fraud and crime and free speech...well...there's a dark side to that too. It allows groups like the KKK to spread their word and recruit new members. Pornography and spam abound too. There are illegal items for sale, and information available on how to make explosives and weapons. Tools are tools, and can be used with bad or good intentions." (Lobowolf)
On the other hand, "the 'net allows you to find whole tribes and chapters and conferences of persons who share the same interests and values and approach to life." (Athalon) Information wise, the internet is also an "encyclopedia of everything! Not only can you get factual information about just about *anything* you want to find out about" (Lobowolf) It's connectivity allows you to "see how other cultures (at least ones with an on-line presence) function and how other countries and cultures look at things." (Lobowolf) Though this type of communication brings up a problem,
"The internet presents only an illusion of real communication. Most of what we share with each other in person is physical: subtle cues, facial expressions, inflection and manner of voice and delivery, body language, scent (emotion-communicating scents are called pheromones), metabolic heat, touch. These things are so strong in fact, that a pre-verbal infant still communicates, sharing what he experiences and feels, picking up on everyone around him. We are so stuck with words as we get older that we forget the critical fact that words don't come first. But with the internet, all the "else" is lost. Words are all you have, and words are of their nature too slippery to be used lightly when used alone. " (Athalon)
"I've also noticed that grammar and spelling are very much relaxed on the Internet, and it may end up leading to the general degradation of the English language" (lobowolf)
The conclusive statement can be made that internet has made naught only positive and negative affects on life, but it, itself, has become a function of life all its own for some people.

http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/images/h96000/h96566k.jpg
fig. 1: Moth excerpt from logbook.




Works Cited

Lindsay, Jeff. Home Page 23, March 2003. http://my.athenet.net/~jlindsay/SkepticQuotes.html.
“Comphist a2”. Online. 23, March 2003. http://www.hofstra.edu/pdf/CompHist_9812tla2.PDF.
Athalon. Personal Interview. 20, March 2003.
“Comphist a3”. Online. 23, March 2003. http://www.hofstra.edu/pdf/CompHist_9812tla3.PDF.
“The ENIAC story”. Online. 23 March, 2003. http://ftp.arl.mil/~mike/comphist/eniac-story.html.
“Ferrenti Mark 1”. Online. 23 March, 2003. http://www.computer50.org/mark1/FM1.html.
“Manchester Mark 1”. Online. 23 March, 2003. http://www.computer50.org/mark1/MM1.html.
“Ferranti Mark 1 Sales Literature”. Online. 23 March, 2003. http://www.computer50.org/kgill/mark1/sale.html.
“Murphy’s laws”. Online. 23 March, 2003. http://dmawww.epfl.ch/roso.mosaic/dm/murphy.html.
Does Not Compute”. Online. 23 March, 2003. http://www.tafkac.org/faq2k/compute_86.html.
“CNN – Univac Predicts winner of 1952 election – April 30, 1999.”. Online. 23, March 2003. http://www.cnn.com/TECH/computing/9904/30/1952.idg/.
Mueller, Scott. Upgrading and repairing PCs 14th Edition. Indianapolis: Que. 2003.
“The IBM PC – History”. Online. 23, March 2003. http://inventors.about.com/library/weekly/aa031599.htm.
“Macintosh History: 1984”. Online. 23, March 2003. http://www.lowendmac.com/history/1984dk.shtml.
“Apple Macintosh (1984)”. Online. 23, March 2003. http://www.ipo.tue.nl/homepages/mrauterb/presentations/HCI-history/tsld047.htm.
“Ken M. Kuhl | Apple Computer – Advertising”. Online. 23, March 2003. http://www.dfwmusic.com/kmk/apple.html.
“The Macintosh Marketing Campaign”. Online. 23, March 2003. http://library.stanford.edu/mac/market.html.
“The History of the Apple MacIntosh – Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak”. Online. 23, March 2003. http://inventors.about.com/library/weekly/aa051599.htm.
“Windows Operating Systems Family History”. Online. 23, March 2003. http://www.microsoft.com/windows/WinHistoryIntro.mspx.
“Windows Desktop Operating Systems”. Online. 23, March 2003. http://www.microsoft.com/windows/WinHistoryDesktop.mspx.
“BBS history”. Online. 23, March 2003. http://www.fortunecity.com/marina/reach/435/bbs.htm.
“T E X T F I L E S”. Online. 23, March 2003. http://www.textfiles.com/statement.html.
AOL A History”. Online. 23, March 2003. http://iml.jou.ufl.edu/projects/Fall2000/McAtee/.
“(I.S.P.) INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDERS”. Online. 23, March 2003. http://home.earthlink.net/~laanderson/wcim-hot.htm.
Lobowolf. Personal Interview. 11, March 2003.
Athalon. Personal Interview. 12, March 2003.



This was my term paper, handed in to my history teacher on said date. Well, That's all I have to say for node your homework

Log in or registerto write something here or to contact authors.