Tuesday, October 03, 2006


I am told by my supervisor that the previous owner of this room subsequently became the Dean of the University, so I find myself sitting in a leather easy chair of august heritage. I also find myself in something of a little museum of computational mathematics, and in the style of most museums in small towns in Japan it is dusty, presented against a brown lineoleum background, and demanding of considerable personal research from the diligent amateur.

Here I present to you some artifacts from the early history of the computer. Clockwise from top left we have the Casio FX-1 Calculator,which was built in 1971 and is actually powered from the wall socket, not a battery; a box of 5.25" floppy disks (containing the 'system disk' (on one disk!) and a program called pi); an envelope containing magnetic cards for the Canon SX-3110 scientific calculator (so obscure I can't find a picture on the web); examples of the floppy disk and the card; and finally a 'statistics pack' for the SX-3110 calculator, which presumably one plugs in at the back to give it the kind of advanced functionality every 70s statistician needed. It must have been pretty big, because that stats pack is chunky. Unfortunately some looter has made off with the SX-3110; maybe it is of pre-war vintage, and was confiscated by the US for their electronic warfare program.

This isn't the only history available to me in this building. Down the hall is a cabinet in which are stacked two neat rows of magnetic backup tape which must be of 80s vintage at best. Rather a lot of the equipment in this place is rather old, actually, and all encased in brown. Even the LAN cable through which I beam this message to the internet is brown (I challenge you, fellow Australians, to find a brown LAN cable in Australia). It goes fetchingly with the formica table and brown chairs, but is so old that it has no flexibility.

I hope when my Hewlett-Packard PC arrives it is not from the Hewlett Packard Museum of Electronic Calculators, and is a colour other than brown!!!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

My God, Datalife floppy disks!! The memories of playing with floppies...


6:36 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home