Sunday, November 30, 2008

Pointing stick

The pointing stick (trademarked by IBM as the TrackPoint & by Synaptics as the Touchstyk) is an isometric joystick used as a pointing device (compare especially touchpad). It was invented by research scientist Ted Selker. It is present on many brands of laptop, including IBM's line of ThinkPad laptops (now made by Lenovo), Toshiba Satellite laptops, HP business notebooks and on Dell Latitudes under the name of Track Stick. It has also been observed on computer mice and on some desktop keyboards, such as the UltraNav. Pointing stick devices are sometimes informally referred to as a "nipple", "nub"[citation needed], "nipple mouse" The pointing stick has a replaceable rubber cap, traditionally red on the ThinkPad but also found in other colors on other machines. On a QWERTY keyboard, the stick is embedded between the 'G', 'H' and 'B' keys, and the mouse buttons are placed just below the Spacebar. The cap can also be a slightly rough "grippy cat's tongue" material. The mouse buttons are usually operated by the right thumb, but some people use both left and right thumbs, for buttons 1/3 respectively.

The pointing stick operates by sensing applied force (hence it is also known as an isometric joystick), by using a pair of resistive strain gauges. The velocity of the cursor depends on the applied force.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


The UNIVAC I (U N I Versal A utomatic C omputer I ) was the first commercial computer produced in the United States. It was designed principally by J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly, the inventors of the ENIAC. Design work was begun by their company, Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation, and was completed after the company had been acquired by Remington Rand. (In the years before successor models of the UNIVAC I appeared, the machine was simply known as "the UNIVAC".)

The first UNIVAC was delivered to the United States Census Bureau on March 31, 1951 and was dedicated on June 14th that year. The fifth machine (built for the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission) was used by CBS to predict the result of the 1952 presidential election. With a sample of just 1% of the voting population it correctly predicted that Eisenhower would win. The UNIVAC I computers were built by Remington Rand's UNIVAC-division (successor of the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation, bought by Rand in 1950).

Friday, November 28, 2008


CSIRAC (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research Automatic Computer, pronounced /'sаɪræk/), originally known as CSIR Mk 1, was Australia's first digital computer, and the fourth stored program computer in the world. It was first to play digital music and is the only intact first-generation computer.

The CSIRAC was constructed by a team led by Trevor Pearcey and Maston Beard, working in large part independently of similar efforts across Europe and the United States, and ran its first test program some time in November 1949.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Honeywell 316 (Kitchen computer)

The Honeywell 316 was a popular 16-bit minicomputer built by Honeywell starting in 1969. It is part of the Series 16 which includes the Models 116, 316, 416, 516 and 716. They were commonly used for data acquisition and control, remote message concentration, clinical laboratory systems and time-sharing. The Series 16 computers are all based on the DDP-116 designed by Gardner Hendrie at Computer Control Corporation (3C) in 1964.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Jacquard loom

The Jacquard Loom is a mechanical loom, invented by Joseph Marie Jacquard in 1801, that simplifies the process of manufacturing textiles with complex patterns such as brocade, damask, and matelasse[1]. The loom is controlled by pasteboard cards with punched holes, each row of which corresponds to one row of the design. Multiple rows of holes are punched on each card and the many cards that compose the design of the textile are strung together in order. It is based on earlier inventions by the Frenchmen Basile Bouchon (1725), Jean Falcon (1728) and Jacques Vaucanson (1740)

Each hole in the card corresponds to a "Bolus" hook, which can either be up or down. The hook raises or lowers the harness, which carries and guides the warp thread so that the weft will either lie above or below it. The sequence of raised and lowered threads is what creates the pattern. Each hook can be connected via the harness to a number of threads, allowing more than one repeat of a pattern. A loom with a 400 hook head might have four threads connected to each hook, resulting in a fabric that is 1600 warp ends wide with four repeats of the weave going across.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Rainbow 100

The Rainbow 100 was a microcomputer introduced by Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) in 1982 to compete in the IBM PC market. This desktop unit had the video-terminal display circuitry from the VT102, a video monitor similar to the VT220 in a box with both Z80 and 8088 CPUs. The Rainbow 100 was a triple-boot machine: VT102 mode, CP/M mode (using the Z80), and CP/M-86 or MS-DOS mode using the 8088.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Datapoint 2200

The Datapoint 2200 was a mass-produced programmable terminal announced by Computer Terminal Corporation (CTC) in June, 1970 (with units shipping in 1971). It was intended by its designers simply to be a versatile, cost-efficient terminal for connecting to a wide variety of mainframes by loading various terminal emulations from tape rather than being hardwired as most terminals were. However, enterprising users in the business sector (including Pillsbury Foods) realized that this so-called "programmable terminal" was equipped to perform any task a simple computer could, and exploited this fact by using their 2200s as standalone computer systems. Equally significant is the fact that the terminal's CPU (processor) was the embryo of the x86 instruction set architecture, which powered the original IBM PC and has powered all of its descendants since.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sega TeraDrive

The TeraDrive was a 16-bit PC with an integrated Mega Drive, manufactured by IBM for Sega. The system was only released in Japan, as Sega was hopeful that by integrating its then popular Mega Drive console into an IBM PC would be an attraction for potential customers wishing to purchase a PC. The system however proved unpopular with the Japanese market and ultimately failed. A new PC was also in the discussion stages to be developed by Sega under the leadership of ex-IBM executive Narutomi, but this likely never got past the discussion stages due to the failure of the TeraDrive.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Lear Siegler ADM-3A

The ADM-3A was one of the first computer terminals manufactured by Lear Siegler. It had a 12 inch screen displaying 12 or 24 lines of 80 characters. Originally priced at $1195, a DIY kit later sold for $995. At first only allowing capital letters as ADM-3; the model was quickly supplanted by the more advanced version with both lower case, and uppercase. Further optional Add-ons included a graphics card enabling it to emulate a Tektronix 4014 and an extension port which would allow daisy chaining several ADM-3As on a single RS-232 line. The setup was controlled by 32 DIP switches under the nameplate at the front of the machine, beside the keyboard, including speed from 75 to 19200 bit/s (although all speeds above 9600 were purely theoretical, as it could accommodate such speeds only if the actual incoming characters were coming at a much slower rate to accommodate its buffer, otherwise data would be lost). The advanced configuration options allowed split speed connection, sending at one rate, and receiving at another.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Sharp PC-E500S

The Sharp PC-E500S was a 1995 pocket computer by Sharp Corporation and was the successor to the PC-E500 model, featuring a 2.304 MHz CMOS CPU.

It came with 32 kB of RAM which could be upgraded to 96 kB. The monochrome LCD display had 240x32 pixels which could display four lines with 40 characters per line. The 256 kB system ROM also contained a BASIC interpreter which could be used to program the device. Printer and serial ports were also available.

The PC-E500S had a weight of 340 g (with batteries) and was powered by four AAA batteries. It could, given its power consumption of 0.09 W, be used for about 70 hours on a charge.

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Thursday, November 20, 2008


The HP-65 was the first magnetic card-programmable handheld calculator. Introduced by Hewlett-Packard in 1974, it featured nine storage registers and room for 100 keystroke instructions. It also included a magnetic card reader/writer. Like all Hewlett-Packard calculators of the era and most since, the HP-65 used reverse Polish notation (RPN) and a four-level automatic operand stack.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Altair 8800

The MITS Altair 8800 was a microcomputer design from 1975, based on the Intel 8080 CPU and sold as a mail-order kit through advertisements in Popular Electronics, Radio-Electronics and other hobbyist magazines. The designers intended to sell only a few hundred to hobbyists, and were surprised when they sold thousands in the first month. Today the Altair is widely recognized as the spark that led to the personal computer revolution of the next few years: The computer bus designed for the Altair was to become a de facto standard in form of the S-100 bus, and the first programming language for the machine was Microsoft's founding product, Altair BASIC.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Radio Shack TRS-80

TRS-80 was Tandy Corporation's desktop microcomputer model line, sold through Tandy's Radio Shack stores in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The line won popularity with hobbyists, home users, and small-businesses. Tandy Corporation's leading position in what Byte Magazine called the "1977 Trinity" (Apple, Commodore and Tandy) had much to do with retailing the computer through more than 3000 of its Radio Shack (Tandy in the UK) storefronts.[2] Notable features of the original TRS-80 included its full-stroke QWERTY keyboard, small size, well-written Floating Point BASIC programming language, an included monitor, and a starting price of $600.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Apple Lisa

The Apple Lisa was a personal computer designed at Apple Computer, Inc. during the early 1980s.

The Lisa project was started at Apple in 1978 and evolved into a project to design a powerful personal computer with a graphical user interface (GUI) that would be targeted toward business customers.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Atari Portfolio

The Atari Portfolio is the first PC-compatible palmtop computer, and was released by Atari Corporation in 1989. The Portfolio was licenced from Distributed Information Processing (DIP) based in Guildford, Surrey, England. The original founding member of DIP was Ian Cullimore, fresh from his experiences at helping design the early Organiser products at Psion.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Macintosh Portable

The Macintosh Portable was Apple Computer's first attempt at making a battery-powered portable Macintosh personal computer that held the power of a desktop Macintosh.

Released in 1989, it was received with excitement from most critics but with very poor sales to consumers. Seemingly no expense was spared in the construction of the machine. It featured a black and white active-matrix LCD screen in a hinged cover that covered the keyboard when the machine was not in use. The mouse function was handled by a built-in trackball that could be removed and located on either side of the keyboard. It used expensive SRAM in an effort to maximize battery life and to provide an "instant on" low power sleep mode.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Atari ST

The Atari ST is a home/personal computer that was commercially available from 1985 to the early 1990s. It was released by Atari Corporation in 1985. The "ST" officially stands for "Sixteen/Thirty-two", which referred to the Motorola 68000's 16-bit external bus and 32-bit internals.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Apple Newton

The Apple Newton, or simply Newton, is the iPhone's predecessor and was an early line of personal digital assistants developed and marketed by Apple Computer (now Apple Inc.) First developed in 1992, it was sold from 1993 to 1998. Some electronic engineering and the manufacture of the Newton was done in Japan by Sharp. The original Newtons were based on the ARM 610 RISC processor and featured handwriting recognition software. Apple's official name for the device was "MessagePad"; the term "Newton" was Apple's name for the operating system it used (Newton OS), but popular usage of the word Newton has grown to include the device and its software together. The name is an allusion to Isaac Newton's apple.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Apple II series

The Apple II was the first highly successful mass produced microcomputer product, manufactured by Apple Computer (now Apple Inc.) and introduced in 1977. It was among the first home computers on the market, and became one of the most recognizable and successful. In terms of ease of use, features and expandability the Apple II was a major technological advancement over its predecessor, the Apple I, a limited production bare circuit board computer for electronics hobbyists which pioneered many features that made the Apple II a commercial success. Introduced at the West Coast Computer Faire in 1977, the Apple II was among the first successful personal computers and responsible for launching the Apple company into a successful business. (Competitors with the Apple II for the title of "first mass-produced microcomputer" include the IBM 5100 [sold fully assembled] and the Altair 8800 [sold in kit and assembled form, but mostly as a kit], both introduced in 1975; the winner depends on the definition of "mass-produced".) Throughout the years a number of different models were introduced and sold, with the most popular model manufactured having relatively minor changes even into the 1990s. By the end of its production in 1993, somewhere between five and six million Apple II series computers (including approximately 1.25 million Apple IIGS models) had been produced.

Monday, November 10, 2008

IBM 5110

The IBM 5110 Portable Computer was the successor of the IBM 5100 Portable Computer.

Three variations of the IBM 5110 were built:

IBM 5110 Model 1 (with a built-in QIC DC300 tape drive of 204 kB).
IBM 5110 Model 2 (without the QIC tape drive).
IBM 5110 Model 3 - also designated as the IBM 5120 (with two built-in 8 inch 1.2 MB floppy disk drives).
The IBM 5110 was announced in January 1978 (3 years after the introduction of the IBM 5100). Its main differences were support for more I/O devices (floppy disk drives, IEEE-488, RS232, ...) and a character set (EBCDIC) which was compatible with other IBM machines. These improvements made it partially incompatible with the IBM 5100.

The 5110 featured the same housing as the 5100 (although the colors were different), which contained a central processing unit, a keyboard and a 1,024-character display screen. Main memory held 16, 32, 48 or 64 KiB of data, depending on the unit. Offering either magnetic tape or diskette storage, the Model 1 could store as much as 204,000 bytes of information per tape cartridge or 1.2 million bytes on a single diskette; the Model 2 allowed only diskette storage. Up to two IBM 5114 diskette units, each housing a maximum of two diskette drives, could be attached to the 5110 for a total online diskette capacity of 4.8 million bytes. The IBM 5110 Model 3 allowed only one external IBM 5114 diskette unit.

An IBM 5103 printer and an external IBM 5106 auxiliary tape unit (Model 1 only) were available as options.

Citing the easy use of his new system, Jeff Grube, vice president of Punxsutawney Electric Repair (who received the first IBM 5110 on February 2, 1978), said: "If you can type and use a hand-held calculator, you have all the skills necessary to operate a 5110."

Sunday, November 9, 2008

ASR-33 Teletype

Introduced about 1963, Teletype Corporation's ASR33 was a very popular model of teleprinter. Designed for light-duty office use, it was much flimsier (and cheaper) than its heavy duty cousin, the Model 35ASR.

The printing mechanism was an array of levers, cranks, and a type cylinder wheel on a movable carriage. These mechanical parts printed up to 10 characters per second. Printing was limited to the upper case ASCII character set.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Dragon 32

The Dragon 32 and Dragon 64 are home computers that were built in the 1980s. The Dragons are very similar to the TRS-80 Color Computer (CoCo), and were produced for the European market by Dragon Data, Ltd., in Port Talbot, Wales. The model numbers reflect the primary difference between the two machines, which have 32 and 64 kilobytes of RAM, respectively.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Osborne 1

The Osborne 1 was the first commercially successful portable microcomputer, released in April, 1981 by Osborne Computer Corporation. It weighed 23.5 pounds (10.7 kg), cost US$1795, and ran the then-popular CP/M 2.2 operating system. Its principal deficiencies were a tiny 5 inch (13 cm) display screen and single sided, single density floppy disk drives whose disks could not contain sufficient data for practical business applications. Its design owed much to that of the Xerox NoteTaker, a prototype developed at Xerox PARC in 1976.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Commodore PET

The PET (Personal Electronic Transactor) was a home-/personal computer produced by Commodore starting in 1977. Although it was not a top seller outside the Canadian, US, and UK educational markets, it was Commodore's first full-featured computer and would form the basis for their future success.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Epson HX-20

The Epson HX-20 (also known as the HC-20) is generally regarded as the first laptop computer, announced in November 1981, although first sold widely in 1983. Hailed by BusinessWeek magazine as the "fourth revolution in personal computing", it is generally considered both the first notebook and handheld computer and it is for this reason that it is highly prized among collectors.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Apple I

The Apple I, also known as the Apple-1, was an early personal computer. They were designed and hand-built by Steve Wozniak. Wozniak's friend Steve Jobs had the idea of selling the computer. The Apple I was Apple's first product, demonstrated in April 1976 at the Homebrew Computer Club in Palo Alto, California. It went on sale in July 1976 at a price of $666.66, because Wozniak liked repeating digits[4] and because they originally sold it to a local shop for $500 and added a one-third markup. About 200 units were produced. Unlike other hobbyist computers of its day, which were sold as kits, the Apple I was a fully assembled circuit board containing about 30 chips. However, to make a working computer, users still had to add a case, power supply, keyboard, and display. An optional board providing a cassette interface for storage was later released at a cost of $75.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Digital Equipment Corporation PDP-8

Digital Equipment Corporation was a pioneering American company in the computer industry. It is often referred to within the computing industry as DEC (this acronym was frequently officially used by Digital itself,[1] but the trademark was always DIGITAL). Its PDP and VAX products were arguably the most popular minicomputers for the scientific and engineering communities during the 1970s and 1980s.

In 1976, DEC decided to extend the PDP-11 architecture to 32 bits, creating its first 32-bit minicomputer, referred to as a super-mini. This was launched as the Virtual Address eXtension (VAX) 11/780 in 1978, and immediately took over the vast majority of the minicomputer market.