1963 Timesharing: A Solution to Computer Bottlenecks

[Recorded: May 9, 1963]This vintage film features MIT Science Reporter John Fitch at the MIT Computation Center in an extended interview with MIT professor of computer science Fernando J. Corbato. The film was co-produced by WGBH (Boston) and MIT. The prime focus of the film is timesharing, one of the most important developments in computing, and one which has come in and out of favor several times over the last several decades as the dichotomy between remote and centrally-managed computing resources played out; the latest incarnation for centrally-managed computing resources is known as cloud computing. Timesharing as shown in this film, was a novel concept in the early 1960s. Driven by a desire to more efficiently use expensive computer resources while increasing the interactivity between user and computer (man and machine), timesharing was eventually taken up by industry in the form of special timesharing hardware for mainframe and minicomputer computer systems as well as in sophisticated operating systems to manage multiple users and resources.Corbato describes how after the mid-1950s, when computers began to become reliable, the next big challenge to improve productivity and efficiency was the development of computer languages, FORTRAN being an example. One of the next bottlenecks in computing, according to Corabto, was the traditional batch processing method of combining many peoples computer jobs into one large single job for the computer to process at one time. He compares batch processing to a group of people catching a bus, all being moved at once.Timesharing, on the other hand, involves attaching a large number of consoles to the central computer, each of which is given a time-slice of the computers time. While the computer is rapidly switching among user applications and problems, it appears to the user that s/he has complete access to the central computer.Corbato then describes in technical detail a complex description of timesharing before showing some examples of timesharing from a terminal using a simple program to calculate a simple geometric problem (Pythagorean theorem).In the long run, Corbato says, timesharing will help address the increasing need for computer time and ease-of-use

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The Electronic Coach

[Recorded: circa 1959]”The Electronic Coach” is a short film made by IBM describing the use of computers in the management of a university basketball team. The film features computer science legend Don Knuth, then a junior at Case Institute of Technology. For all four of his undergraduate years at Case (1956-60), Knuth was manager of the basketball team and sought ways to improve his team’s play by analyzing a series of special statistics he captured during games. The scoring method was unusual in the weightings it gave to activities not necessarily associated with traditional coaching but Knuth’s insights into basketball, combined with his computerization of the reams of data he collected, helped Case’s coaching staff make their basketball team a winner. The computer used is an IBM 650.

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Man & Computer – IBM 1965

The film Man & Computer, made in 1965 by IBM’s UK branch, provides a basic understanding of computer operations. A large portion of the film shows the ways in which a computer can be simulated by five people using the standard office equipment of the day. The film employs a number of different techniques, including animations, and features a few brief scenes of an IBM System/360 in use—just months after the first machines were delivered.Starting in the 1940s, IBM became a major producer of films used for sales, training, documenting business processes, entertaining at company functions, and educating the public. Several IBM films were made by respected filmmakers and sometimes featured well-known actors

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Man discovers glasses-free 3D tech in the blink of an eye.

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Teenage Engineering OP-1 synthesizer now available for pre-order, we tour its shiny new features (video) — Engadget

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Synth pioneer Roger Linn shows us his new analog drum machine, Tempest (video) — Engadget

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Moog Lap Steel adds infinite analog sustain to the top of your thighs: ears-on at NAMM 2011 (video) — Engadget

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