"The Computer Girls," 1967 Cosmopolitan magazine article on women working with technology

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Back then, the women themselves were sometimes called “computers.” They used these machines to compute.

34 weird vintage photos of women in tiny miniskirts at huge old computers

Vintage Photos of Mini-skirts Behind Computers (4)
Enjoy ogling these broads' gams, and get a load of those ginormous mainframes.

Watch the trailer for new Steve Jobs documentary

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"His stuff was beloved, but it wasn't that he was beloved." Read the rest

PC shipments decline sharply, again

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"The death of the PC," writes Davey Alba, "has not been greatly exaggerated."

Research outfit Gartner tracked a 9.5 percent decline in shipments in the second quarter of this year compared to the same time a year ago, posting a tally of 68.4 million units. Meanwhile, researchers at IDC, which doesn’t count tablets in its report, calculated an 11.8 percent drop year-over-year to 66.1 million PCs shipped. To put that number into context, Apple said in its most recent earnings report that it had sold 61 million iPhones during the same quarter—and that’s just one smartphone from one (massively popular) company.

Can you guess which PC maker saw growth? Read the rest

BBC finalizes Micro:bit computer design

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To Britons of a certain age, the BBC Micro was a legendary 8-bit computer perfect for learning to code (and to play with between lessons). The public broadcaster's Micro Bit will be its spiritual sequel.

The tiny 4cm device has an ARM CPU, bluetooth and a USB port, through which it can be powered.

Uniquely, it has a series of 25 LED lights to help young children get instant results and appreciate its simple programmability, said to be a key differentiator between the Micro:bit and more elaborate devices such as the Raspberry Pi.

It also has an accelerometer, a motion detector, a compass, and and an array of inputs for more sensors to be attached. The wee board is 18 times faster than the original BBC Micro, which recently celebrated its 33rd birthday—and about 600 times lighter. The BBC will reportedly give a million Micro:bits to kids in the UK. Read the rest

The IBM 1620, an affordable “scientific computer” from 1959.

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Some users gave it the acronym CADET: "Can't Add, Doesn't Even Try."

WATCH: A lady goes insane trying to comprehend computers

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"Why is it that men understand computers so easily, but women don't?" After being driven mad by her technophobia, a hapless woman is visited by the spirit of Ada Lovelace, who patiently guides the woman back to her miserable reality. Read the rest

A farmhouse shrine to obsolete computers

York University's Jim Austin, a teacher of neural computing, has accumulated some 1,000 machines across 30 years of collecting obsolete computers. He keeps them in four sheds at the top of of a hill behind his farmhouse in Yorkshire.

The London Review of Books visited Austin and learned some fascinating things about hardware depreciation:

‘This IBM mainframe was $8.7 million in 1983,’ he told me when I went to see them. ‘Which in today’s money is $24 million. I mean, that’s astronomical. And they’re scrapped after four years. That’s it. Scrap.’ He points to another. ‘The Fujitsu supercomputer, I think it depreciated at £16,000 a week for three years. Then it was zero.’ Behind the IBM and the Fujitsu are more machines: DECs, Wangs. ‘I just take them all home. I preserve them. I just collect them, because I like them. And I’ve got the sheds, so I just put them in.’

The visit to Austin's shrines to obsolescence makes for almost poetic reading -- especially the story of 2005's 64th-fastest machine in the world, whose former owner traded away half its processor boards for chocolate bars. Read the rest

Online activism and why the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act must die

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Courts have appreciated that even distributed denial of service attacks can be legitimate form of public protest. Molly Sauter on the insane U.S. law used to criminalize them and other forms of online activism.

Graphics chip commercial debunks moon landing conspiracies

NVIDIA made an interesting video to market their graphics processing tech by showing how it can be used to debunk conspiracy claims that the 1969 lunar landing was faked. (Thanks, Bob Pescovitz!) Read the rest

Mellow electronica video shows what happens in your computer when you go right ahead and just spill juice all over it

Read the rest

How It Works …. The Computer (Ladybird books, 1978)

I found a copy of one of my favorite childhood books about computers. And now you can enjoy it too!

Pesco on LSD, computers, and the counterculture

Above, video evidence of my short presentation "Just Say Know: A Cyberdelic History of the Future" at the recent Lift Conference 2014 in Geneva, Switzerland. Albert Hoffman first synthesized LSD in 1938 in Switzerland so this felt like the right set and setting to share stories about the intersection of psychedelic culture and computer technology from the 1960s to the present and beyond! Read the rest

A midnight army at the dawn of the web

Leigh Alexander recalls her adventures working with porn spambots in the 1990s, and the strange mixture of nostalgia and disappointment that remains.

How to: Shop for a computer in 1953

Ptak Science Books reprints a helpful article from the journal Computers and Automation, meant to help early computer shoppers make sure they're wisely spending their hundreds of thousands of dollars (in 1953 dollars, that is). You don't want to end up with a gigantic, room-sized piece of machinery that doesn't meet your needs or, worse, is a lemon. Read the rest

Flightline is a beautiful desktop PC inspired by the Wright Brothers Memorial

Jeffrey Stephenson's most elegant handmade PC yet comprises 167 handcut veneers, made of quilted maple, mahogany, lacewood and "aircraft grade birch plywood." Inside is a Gigabyte Thin Mini-ITX motherboard with an Intel Core i3 processor, 8GB RAM and a 60GB SSD, but specs hardly matter when the chassis is so beautiful. [Slipperyskip] Read the rest

Video: uncanny 3D faces show "parametric expressions"

It's watching us, and this is what it sees. Mike Pelletier explores quantified emotions in software, in collaboration with Subbacultcha! and Pllant / Marieke van Helden [Video Link] Read the rest

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