Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.


UNIVAC’s Birthday

Filed under: Apple,Deep Thoughts,Geek Work,News and Current Events,Ooo, shiny... — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 6:51 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

On this day in 1951, my profession was, essentially “born”.

Today marks the anniversary of the unveiling of the UNIVAC, the world’s first commercially produced and available electronic digital computer in the United States. The first electronic computers were invented during World War II by the military. Engineers in Great Britain invented the Colossus computer to help break Nazi codes, and engineers in the United States invented the ENIAC, to help calculate the trajectories of missiles.
The ENIAC used 17,468 vacuum tubes, 7,200 crystal diodes, 1,500 relays, 70,000 resistors, 10,000 capacitors and around 5 million hand-soldered joints. It weighed 30 tons, was roughly 8 feet by 3 feet by 100 feet, took up 1800 square feet, and consumed 150 kW of power. The ENIAC radiated so much heat that industrial cooling fans were needed to keep its circuitry from melting down. It took two days to reprogram it for each new task.

The men who created the ENIAC decided to go into private business for themselves, and it was on this day in 1951 that they unveiled their first product, the UNIVAC I, the world’s first commercially available electronic computer. It was quite an improvement over the ENIAC, using a mere5,200 vacuum tubes, UNIVAC I weighed just 29,000 pounds (or 13 tons), consumed 125 kW, and could perform about 1,905 operations per second running on a 2.25 MHz clock, which was the fastest calculation rate in the world at the time. The Central Complex alone (i.e. the processor and memory unit) was 14 feet by 8 feet by 8.5 feet high. The complete system occupied more than 350 square feet of floor space.
The first customer to buy the UNIVAC was the United States Census Bureau, and the computer was used to predict the presidential election of 1952, after early returns began to come in. It correctly predicted that Eisenhower would win. Originally priced at $159,000, the UNIVAC I rose in price until they were between $1,250,000 and $1,500,000. A total of 46 systems were eventually built and delivered.
Thomas J. Watson, the chairman of IBM at the time, thought that computers, with all their incredibly complex vacuum tubes and circuitry, were too complicated. He famously said, “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” But with the invention of the microchip in 1971, all the processing power of those thousands of vacuum tubes and punch cards could suddenly be crammed into a space the size of a postage stamp. Within a decade, the first personal computers, or PCs, began to appear. Ironically, Apple made them popular and inexpensive enough for the home user and drove what we think of as the computer revolution.

But, it all started with UNIVAC. So, happy birthday, big guy. Thanks for being just delicate enough to keep me working!

That “Special” Time

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Calamity, Cataclysm, and Catastrophe,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Dog and Pony Shows,Geek Work,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:15 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

No, I’m not talking about “that time of the month”.

It’s hurricane season again. Yeah, already. I mention this because a fairly heavy tropical storm has already started up and is smacking Florida around. So, if you haven’t started thinking about how you’re going to survive this year’s hurricane season, you better start.

First of all, let’s talk business, okay? Do you have a plan yet? Better get one quick. Really quick, at this point. What are you going to do if your business gets hit? Where are you going to set up shop while you get your damaged location fixed? Who’s going to staff that temporary location? What about your data? Who’s in charge of protecting it and getting it to a secure location in the event of a disaster?
Don’t know the answer to these questions? Better figure them out in a hurry. Oh, don’t think it’ll happen to you? Check this story on Computer Business Review Online. A lot of those folks didn’t think it would happen to them, either.
Need help with the questions? Oh, yeah, those few, little questions I fired off are just the start. This article on Continuity Central has all those and a whole bunch more that will keep you awake at night until you answer them. It won’t write the plan for you, but it sure will let you know where the holes are in your disaster recovery plan.
Still need help? I recommend checking out SunGuard. I’ve used them, professionally, before and they’re very good at this sort of thing. Very good.
Now, what about you and your family? Considered that yet?
I remember last year when Katrina hit, followed by Rita. It was a disaster with a capital D. People were panicking and running. Gas stations ran out of gas. Grocery stores ran out of canned food and bottled water and batteries. You couldn’t buy a generator at any price. It was a real nightmare. And that was just a close call. Imagine what it would have been like if Rita had actually hit us here in Houston. Right.
So, now is the time to lay in that canned food and the water purification tablets and the batteries and candles and … Well, there’s a lot of stuff, isn’t there? Luckily, there are a lot of different lists and guides to preparing for a hurricane. All you have to do is start now, while it’s still easy. I’ve found links to do-it-yourself hurricane survival kits at Southcom, Hurricaneville, and the Tampa Bay Government website. Also, if you have pets, check out the Pet Survival Kit at the Tampa website. I like the Hurricaneville one because it’s a downloadable PDF file that includes pretty good advice about hurricanes in general and not just what stuff to get to make it through one. It offers practical advice and has good general information about tropical storms and hurricanes.

Personally, I prefer to use solar and dynamo power over batteries when I can and I have that stuff I got last year. I still need to get more canned food and, maybe, some MREs. Never did get that shotgun, either. Not to mention the gas cans or the first-aid kit. I did get a book on First Aid for Dogs though, just in case. And, maybe it’s time to get a couple decorative oil lamps, too…
Excuse me while I exorcise the latent survivalist in me. I know it seems crazy now, but when I’m sitting pretty after the next hurricane, all you Houston readers will be stopping by for coffee, since I’ll be the only one with any!
Seriously, though, folks, it’s never too early to start planning.

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"Justice may be blind, but she has very sophisticated listening devices."
   --Edgar Argo

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