Make Magazine's Arwen O'Reilly recently wrote asking if I could provide a brief reminisce about a kit that I'd especially loved as a kid. I wrote her this:
In between getting a Selectric in 1976 and a TTY in 1977, we had a brief period in my household where my dad was transitioning from being a programmer to going to teacher's college. He brought home a "cardboard computer" that you assembled by punching out parts, inserting tabs into slots. It assembled to something about three-card-thicknesses deep and about 10" by 6". It had little tokens that represented bits, and a table of operations. You could write a program to calculate, say, 2 + 2, then move the tokens around from one part of the computer to another, simulating the shunting of bits through logic-gates, until you got the total. I was completely enchanted with this thing -- I spent days and days making it add up very small numbers, fascinated by this look into the universe of a Von Neumann machine. Years later I saw Tron and was unimpressed -- sure they had speeder-bikes, but they weren't a patch on my cardboard tokens. I wish I could remember what that thing was called!
Based on my sketchy description, Arwen managed to turn up the long-lost cardboard computer: it was a Bell Labs CARDIAC: A Cardboard Illustrative Guide to Computers. There's a lot of CARDIAC fans out there, and there may even be a vendor still selling original, left-over CARDIACs!
CARDIAC Photos Link, Answers About CARDIAC
The Cobham catalog, exposed by The Intercept, features countless pages of surveillance gadgets sold to U.S. police to spy on American citizens: tiny black boxes with a big interest in you. In the creepily bland feature lists and nerdy product names is a whisper of a dark future; perhaps darker than anyone can imagine.
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Geek Fuel is a subscription delivery service that caters to those of us that love comics, gaming, and general geek culture. Every month, Geek Fuel will assemble a box of goodies with a value of $50 or over. The specific items are a mystery, but you’ll always get an exclusive t-shirt not found anywhere else, a full […]
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This week’s top deals from the Boing Boing Store range from lobster to wine to desk organization. 1. Get Maine Lobster (50% Off)With these discounted packages from Get Maine Lobster, you can experience the sweet, fresh flavor of world-renowned Maine lobster right at your own dinner table. There are four options to choose from, each at […]