jm + computing   8

SXSW 2018: A Look Back at the 1960s PLATO Computing System - IEEE Spectrum
Author Brian Dear on how these terminals were designed for coursework, but students preferred to chat and play games [...]

“Out of the top 10 programs on PLATO running any day, most were games,” Dear says. “They used more CPU time than anything else.” In one popular game called Empire, players blast each other’s spaceships with phasers and torpedoes in order to take over planets.

And PLATO had code review built into the OS:

Another helpful feature that no longer exists was called Term Comment. It allowed users to leave feedback for developers and programmers at any place within a program where they spotted a typo or had trouble completing a task.

To do this, the user would simply open a comment box and leave a note right there on the screen. Term Comment would append the comment to the user’s place in the program so that the recipient could easily navigate to it and clearly see the problem, instead of trying to recreate it from scratch on their own system.

“That was immensely useful for developers,” Dear says. “If you were doing QA on software, you could quickly comment, and it would track exactly where the user left this comment. We never really got this on the Web, and it’s such a shame that we didn’t.”
plato  computing  history  chat  empire  gaming  code-review  coding  brian-dear 
4 weeks ago by jm
The power of role models
At dinner I asked some of the women to speak to me about this, how astronomy became so (relatively) egalitarian. And one topic became clear: role models. Astronomy has a long history of women active in the field, going all the way back to Caroline Herschel in the early 19th century. Women have made huge contributions to the field. Dava Sobel just wrote a book about the women who laid the foundations for the discovery of the expansion of the universe. Just a couple of weeks ago, papers ran obituaries of Vera Rubin, the remarkable observational astronomer who discovered the evidence for dark matter. I could mention Jocelyn Bell, whose discovery of pulsars got her advisor a Nobel (sic). The most famous astronomer I met growing up was Helen Hogg, the (adopted) Canadian astronomer at David Dunlap Observatory outside Toronto, who also did a fair bit of what we now call outreach.

The women at the meeting spoke of this, a history of women contributing, of role models to look up to, of proof that women can make major contributions to the field.

What can computing learn from this? It seems we're doing it wrong. The best way to improve the representation of women in the field is not to recruit them, important though that is, but to promote them. To create role models. To push them into positions of influence.
software  women  feminism  role-models  gender-balance  egalitarianism  astronomy  computing  rob-pike 
february 2017 by jm
To "patch" software comes from a physical patch applied to paper tape
hmason: TIL that the phrase software "patch" is from a physical patch applied to Mark 1 paper tape to modify the program.

It's amazing how a term like that can become so divorced from its original meaning so effectively. History!
history  computing  software  patch  paper-tape  patching  bugs 
october 2014 by jm
Bletchley Park Trust erects "Berlin Wall" to cut off on-site computer history museum - Boing Boing
The Bletchley Park trust have erected a fence, nicknamed "The Berlin Wall," between their well-funded museum and its poorer on-site neighbour, the UK National Museum of Computing, which houses the hand-built replica of the codebreaking Colossus computer. The trust received an £8m lottery-funded grant and set about shitcanning long-serving volunteers, cutting off the computer history museum, and generally behaving like greedy jerks, systematically alienating long-term supporters. Oh, and there was that Snowden business.

WTF. Stupid antics.
bletchley-park  history  wankers  uk  museums  computing 
may 2014 by jm
Girls and Software
a pretty thought-provoking article from Linux Journal on women in computing, and how we're doing it all wrong
feminism  community  programming  coding  women  computing  software  society  work  linux-journal  children  teaching 
february 2014 by jm
TOSEC: Commodore C64 (2012-04-23) : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive
A massive, 6.5GB collection of C64 history.
There are an astounding 134,000+ disk, cassette and documentation items in this Commodore 64 collection, including games, demos, cractros, and compilations.
commodore  c64  history  computing  software  demos  archive 
march 2013 by jm
Lovelace's Leap
a great observation from jgc. 'Lovelace realized that even though a computer was, at its heart, a mathematical machine, it wasn't restricted to doing mathematics. She realized that a computer could be used to process other types of 'information' by having numbers represent anything else. She realized that a computer could handle text, or music, or practically anything. That's Lovelace's Leap.'
jgc  history  ada-lovelace  computing  software  information  code  babbage 
september 2011 by jm

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