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Portables Hardware

The Laptop, Circa 1968 120

Posted by timothy
from the some-turtles-have-nice-shells dept.
Harry writes "In 1968, computers tended to occupy entire rooms, and were therefore hard to take with you. But Computerworld reports on Anderson Jacobson's 75-pound Teletype-terminal-in-a-case, an early attempt to let folks compute from anywhere. (Well, anywhere they had power and access to a telephone for the Teletype's acoustic coupler.) Wheels were optional."
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The Laptop, Circa 1968

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  • by warlock (14079) on Saturday July 04, 2009 @05:27PM (#28582681) Homepage

    No thanks. I'll take youtube, flickr and wikipedia instead, and I was in the BBS scene back in the late '80s early '90s.

  • by rts008 (812749) on Saturday July 04, 2009 @05:34PM (#28582717) Journal

    *sheesh!* Kids now days![Ryiah (1324299) that you replied to, not you]

    Hell, compared to the first computers I experienced at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in 1975 and 1976, these 'laptops' would almost be considered 'handhelds' since you did not need a forklift and 20 engineers to move them around.

  • Hah (Score:5, Insightful)

    by coryking (104614) * on Saturday July 04, 2009 @05:58PM (#28582845) Homepage Journal

    What is funny is I was contemplating how to make a statement like yours and get it +5 funny! You aren't insightul, you are forgetful.

    BBS's didn't have wikipedia. 99% of your BBS buddies were local. You couldn't order books on your BBS. You couldn't book a vacation to some far off land online--you'd have to use a travel agent. You couldn't play any kind of game with 10,000 other users at the same time. You couldn't be on a bus, a coffee shop, a library, or a park and instantly connect to any BBS in the world all at the same time. Elections weren't won or lost in part because of the effectiveness of a candidates BBS strategy. You didn't have entire political revolutions organized using BBSes either. If Iran was in the midst of a revolution during the BBS era, the US government wouldn't be telling some random BBS not to perform system maintenance because so many iranians were relying on it for communication!

    Information? Forget it! You couldn't "google" a BBS and pull up schematics for some random IC. Which BBS did you dial into when you wanted to get a corporations SEC filings? Which BBS had information about the number of legs on a centipede? Which BBS contained streaming, real-time video coming from the olympics and for that matter, which BBS had the scores for every olympic game updated by the second? Which BBS had the wiring digram for a vintage VW bug?

    I'm sure right now, some dillegent Slashdotter is going to post some BBS who did those things, but let me ask them this--how did you know of that BBS's existance? There was no Google, Bing or Yahoo for BBSes, and if there was, you'd have to know its phone number (which would probably be non-local).

    No sir, you aren't insightful. You are my "+5 Funny" comment only serious. I had fun with BBSes too--but we have moved on. The amount of information available *instantly* at my fingertips is many, many orders of magnitude higher than the sum of all information found on all BBS systems that ever existed.

    It is okay to be nostalgic about ANSI art, ACID draw, renegade BBSes, and 16 color gifs of madona in her swimsuit, but don't fool yourself into thinking you are feeling anything else.

  • Um, yeah, that "progress" was called the microchip.
  • No display (Score:3, Insightful)

    by michaelmalak (91262) <michael@michaelmalak.com> on Saturday July 04, 2009 @06:12PM (#28582897) Homepage
    For everyone out there who learned to use a computer after the late 1970's or so, a "Teletype", as this device is called, does not have a display. All output is to a printer -- a character printer. I am slightly amused at the stated despair over the need for a power plug and a landline. How about that ream of paper you have to lug around? (And if it's confidential information, I suppose also a trash bag.)
  • Re:Hah (Score:3, Insightful)

    by osu-neko (2604) on Saturday July 04, 2009 @06:29PM (#28582989)

    All true, but to be fair, the GP was mostly focused on 80's style "social media", and the kind of posts you would find, or chats you would have. YMMV, but really good, quality posting and discussion that's extremely rare on today's discussion boards and tweets and such were the norm back then.

    On the other hand, I don't believe there's less of it today than there was then. I think, in fact, there's a lot more. But that's kinda hard to see or keep in mind sometimes when back in the day, it was >50% of the time, whereas today, it's <1% of the whole. There may be more quality in terms of KB, but there's a lot less in terms of % of the whole. Which makes finding that quality place to engage with people much more difficult. Before, you had a good change when dialing any random BBS that it would be a hit on a great place to discuss things with an interesting community of intelligent thinkers and responders. Now you have to sift through a thousand forums to find one of the same...

  • by coryking (104614) * on Saturday July 04, 2009 @06:40PM (#28583029) Homepage Journal

    Look at why facebook is popular. I wager almost your entire friends list is people you know (or knew) in person.

    If I were a betting man, my hunch would be that we'll figure out people dont really like socializing with random people on in the internet and what we really want is ways to better communicate with the people geographically and socially close to us. In otherwords, we'll go from "random people scattered across the globe talk about Linux" (slashdot) to "random people scattered across my city talk about technology in general".

    ...Maybe. But facebook isn't popular because of hype. It is popular because it lets us put an online face to people we already knew offline. Before "social networking" was the rage, for the most part the internet was "online people talk with other online people" or "people trying to put an offline face to people we only knew online". In short--facebook is popular because it lets us enhance the experiences we have with people we met face to face.

  • Re:Aristotle (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cstacy (534252) on Saturday July 04, 2009 @07:44PM (#28583301)

    ...Or they didn't move as much. I don't think this was carried around in the way that a laptop was but rather this was (for the time) a lighter alternative to a desktop, similar to the mini-PCs today like the Mac Mini.

    Why do people wildly speculate like this when it comes to vintage computing? The people from back then are still around, and you can just ask them.

    Yes, we did carry these around like a laptop. Not from room to room during the day, but commuting between home and office and to other offices/sites.

  • by rts008 (812749) on Sunday July 05, 2009 @01:13AM (#28584573) Journal

    LOL!
    That was the year I graduated from High School.
    I was actually a subcontractor employee with Bendix Field Engineering Corp., working at Goddard's NTTF facility in the Logistics Department, on the graveyard shift then.
    No more than a 'parts man' with a security clearance for the Computer Science Corporation's tech's and engineers that had to be on duty 'just in case'.
    I was playing a text-based baseball game, and blackjack on those behemoths, not actually 'doing work' on them...much less understanding them!
    I was just there 'just in case someone needs something', on duty parts man at the mandatory 24-7 parts counter there.

    But nothing short of death will erase the memories and mental imagery of walking into that 'Walmart-sized' room full of computers, with everyone dressed in parkas, seeing your breath in the air, as I watched those tape reels jerk around, and all of the flashy lights! Made one hell of an impression on me, even though I had no clue what I was seeing at that time!

    BTW:
    1976 was a very good year to be 18 years old!

  • by Animats (122034) on Sunday July 05, 2009 @01:26AM (#28584605) Homepage

    From the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s, the USAF put a huge amount of effort into making electronics more reliable, with considerable success. One of their more interesting efforts involved marking a few percent of the Air Force's inventory of electronics boxes with a sticker instructing users that the unit was part of the USAF's Reliability Program, and if it broke, it was to be replaced as a unit, not fixed in the field. The broken unit was to be sent back to a lab (at Wright-Patterson AFB, I think) for analysis.

    At the lab, the unit was tested and the failing component(s) found. The, the failing component was disassembled and analyzed. This involved opening up transistor cans and looking at the component under a microscope, and if necessary, an electron microscope. The USAF was trying to understand why components failed in the field. Did a "hermetic" seal leak? Was a bonding wire badly soldered to a pad? Was something mispositioned? Was the transistor substrate damaged?

    Results were published in Aviation Week. With enlarged pictures of the defect. Part numbers and names of vendors were given. The USAF deliberately did this to apply pain to vendors.

    Over time, parts got much better. By the 1980s, though, the USAF wasn't buying a big enough fraction of the output of the electronics industry to get much attention, much to the annoyance of senior USAF types.

  • by atraintocry (1183485) on Sunday July 05, 2009 @03:01AM (#28584897)

    Information overloaded happened as soon as the first libraries were constructed. We only don't feel it when we're in a library because we already know the system (wing > aisle > shelf, fiction by author, non-fiction by topic, etc).

    FWIW I think the various social bookmarking sites, although not always super useful, move the work of filtering information from an algorithm to a groups of people with similar tastes who you can link up with. Not quite the same as a BBS but when combine that with forums, it gets easier to find relevant info.

    And I think that what's actually changed is the specialness of the connection itself (I mean the person-to-person connection, not the LAN). I don't have any reason to be in a chat room any more but there was a time when I thought that was the coolest thing ever. I think my generation basically has gone through that. It all happened fast enough that we have one generation that was wowed by being able to download BBS messages and another that is growing up with no notion of a world without Facebook.

  • by TapeCutter (624760) * on Sunday July 05, 2009 @04:28AM (#28585125) Journal
    My eldsest son ran his own BBS in the 80's but I prefer the new fangled online search to find information these days.

    OTOH I love nostalgia; the older I get the better I was.
  • by V!NCENT (1105021) on Sunday July 05, 2009 @05:45AM (#28585373)

    Sounds to me like cloud computing.

    History does repeat itself hehe...

Programmers do it bit by bit.

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