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
Today a future without schools. Instead of gathering students into a room and teaching them, everybody learns on their own time, on tablets and guided by artificial intelligence. Flash Forward: RSS | iTunes | Twitter | Facebook | Web | Patreon | RedditIn this episode we talk to a computer scientist who developed an artificially […]
Where are our petabyte drives? Brian Hayes takes us through the reasons storage is “stuck” in the low terabytes. The tl;dr is that we got such exceptional capacity growth in the late 90s and early 00s we don’t need much more right now, so the focus since then has been on SSDs, networking, interfaces, etc, […]
Amélie Lamont, a former staffer at website-hosting startup Squarespace, writes that she often found herself disregarded and disrespected by her colleagues. One comment in particular, though, set her reeling — and came to exemplify her experiences there.
If you’ve got a coding career on your mind, few programming disciplines will take you farther than a commanding knowledge of the Python language, which is not to be mistaken for parseltongue. Its versatility and ease of use make it a go-to for any coding project…so master Python now with this all-inclusive all-level python programming course […]
The realm of web development is constantly evolving. New platforms, languages, and processes materialize all the time, so staying on top of all that innovation is a tall order.Whether you’re brushing up on new tricks, starting from scratch, or just looking to make your own website a little jazzier, Rob Percival’s new Complete Web Developer Course 2.0 (now […]
Folks used to rely on alarms to protect their home – and before that, the family dog. Now, anyone looking to guard their homes can choose from some high-tech options, including the Amaryllo iCamPRO FHD Home Security Camera (now just $219 in the Boing Boing Store).In fact, this 2015 CES “Best of Innovation” award-winner boasts so many features, it’s […]