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150745.  Fri Feb 23, 2007 10:44 am Reply with quote

I think there might be some general ignorance to be had here, though I’m not sure of the exact approach.

The chairman of IBM, in the early days of the computer industry, famously said that “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.”

This turns out not to be quite the legendarily poor business prediction which it is generally held up as.

It seems that when Thomas Watson said this in 1953, he was referring to one specific model - “IBM’s first production computer designed for scientific calculations” - and they eventually sold 18 of them.

S: Quote...Unquote Newsletter Jan 07, quoting “the new Yale Book of Quotations.”

150774.  Fri Feb 23, 2007 11:27 am Reply with quote

The increase in computer power is something which has awed me - apparently (a fine QI source there) those birthday cards which play a tune when you open them have the same power (or something) as the computer that put men on the moon (or something - stop me if I'm getting too technical).

Yet I heard today that there's a humungous computer being built in Scotland which will cover the size of two tennis courts and be capable of 60 million million calculations a second.

This is larger than the computers that were in my Big Book of Science in 1961.

As I always shout at passing 4x4s, does it have to be that big?

150778.  Fri Feb 23, 2007 11:32 am Reply with quote

Computing power on space missions is always pretty crap. All components of a space mission have to spend years being tested to ensure they will withstand the rigours of space travel. Computing innovation being what it is, by the time some computer technology has been cleared for space travel, it always looks hopelessly out of date compared with the state of the art being used on Earth.

This is one of the reasons why Space Shuttle pilots tend to take laptops on board with them to do all the real computing stuff (the other reason, of course, is that the Space Shuttle is over 20 years old now).

150859.  Fri Feb 23, 2007 1:02 pm Reply with quote

In 1969 when my first husband was at Sheffield University, the computer occupied the entire top floor of the Physics building. It had the same power as the BBC Model B we bought in 1982 for £399.

151464.  Mon Feb 26, 2007 4:53 am Reply with quote

These days you could buy a mobile phone for about £50 which had orders of magnitude more power than your BBC Model B


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