BL21 – 0001 1110 – And now for something completely different…



I bought a new remote control for my TV, or my wife did. It was dead on arrival.

I got thinking… how much MORE power than the first computer I ever touched does this remote have. So I did some research.

In 1968 at U of T, they let us first year engineering students actually touch a computer. Well, they let us touch the cards that went INTO the computer anyway.

This is the IBM 7094, and it rented for over USD$80,000 a month. The big upgrade from the 7090 was that top box with blinking lights. Engineers added blinking lights when management asked how customers could tell it was doing any work. Lacking display screens, the best they came up with was to blink lights.

Students were kept out of the room in which it lived.

We WERE allowed into the keypunch room where we would punch up the deck of cards representing a Fortran program.

After cleaning and alignment, the feed mechanism works very smoothly.

So, this entire machine is equivalent to the touch screen on your iPhone, plus your fingers, pointers, camera, AirPods… anything to provide any kind of input. If it did NOT get punched into a card, the data did not exist to the computer.

You got out a bunch of holes surrounded by light cardboard <=== looking like this.

If you wanted to be sure your cards were punched correctly, you placed them in a second machine called a “verifier”. And you typed your data AGAIN.

Two women entering data onto punched cards at Texas A&M in the 1950s. The woman at the right is seated at an IBM 026 keypunch machine. The woman at left is at an IBM 056 Card Verifier. She would re-enter the data and the ‘056 verifier machine would check that it matched the data punched onto the cards.

Then you put a rubber band around the “deck” of punched cards and left it in a tray to be “executed” that night. Next morning, you picked up your cards wrapped with a few pages of 15″ X 1″ “stock tab” paper and you read what you did wrong. Rinse and repeat.

So, how to compare the remote’s computer to this beast?

 The IBM 7094, was first installed in September 1962. It has seven index registers, instead of three on the earlier machines. The 7094 console has a distinctive box on top that displays lights for the four new index registers.[5] The 7094 introduced double-precision floating point and additional instructions, but is largely backward compatible with the 7090. Although the 7094 has 4 more index registers than the 709 and 7090, at power-on time it is in multiple tag mode,[6]:8 compatible with the 709 and 7090, and requires a Leave Multiple Tag Mode[6]:56 instruction in order to enter seven index register mode and use all 7 index registers. In multiple tag mode, when more than one bit is set in the tag field, the contents of the two or three selected index registers are ORed, not added, together, before the decrement takes place. In seven index register mode, if the three-bit tag field is not zero, it selects just one of seven index registers, however, the program can return to multiple tag mode with the instruction Enter Multiple Tag Mode,[6]:55 restoring 7090 compatibility.

In April 1964, the first 7094 II was installed, which had almost twice as much general speed as the 7094 due to a faster clock cycle, dual memory banks and improved overlap of instruction execution, an early instance of pipelined design.[7]

WOW! All that sounds so powerful.

Let’s establish a starting point for that comparison. One year after I first used a computer, man landed on the man and he used a computer to guide him there and land him safely…

A pocket calculator or even a USB-C charger has more computing power than the best computers used to send astronauts to the moon.

This is what got man to the moon.

Compare that to the room sized machine I worked on. It was a tiny fraction of the power.

(Fun Trivia – a friend of mine worked for Spar Aerospace in 1969 and was one of the “scientists” who used slide rules to recalculate a new entry orbit for Apollo 13 when it headed back too light without moon rocks. If they got it wrong the capsule would either bounce off the atmosphere back out into space or come crashing straight in as a short ball of flames. They got it perfect.)

The mouse in your hand has more power.

The IBM 7094 had core memory, an upgrade from the vacuum tubes of its predecessor. And it had 32,000 of them. 32K’s worth.

Your iPhone, the cheapest one you can buy, starts at 32,000,000,000 “cores” equivalency. 32GB’s worth. 32 billion.

And if you actually want to use apps and take pictures, you need much more.

So, it is likely of no use to go further. Who cares?

I care. I like to look back and think about how far we have come. We had only cardboard in and paper out back then.

Just like the Ontario courts system today.

If you analyzed how the courts stored information in 1969, you would find it unchanged today. Cardboard file folders with paper in, and just paper out.

How could 50 years of computing NOT make a dent in the law?

How can the law even BEGIN to prosecute “computer crimes” when it uses only paper as evidence?

Right, it’s not possible.

So, what is the result?

You come to the simplest alleged computer crime imaginable, mine, and you cannot even bring to court the evidence needed because it was on a computer. And one CANNOT submit computer stuff as evidence because no one understands it in the court system.

Even police today have no tools to record computer crimes.

They actually use video cameras to take PHOTOS of computers to take to court.

This is the high tech equivalent to “hearsay”. Call it “seensay”. What OTHER computers executed, when you can only use REAL computer evidence theoretically.

Bit, Bob, your accusers bring stacks of paper evidence to court, what is that?

Well, I have the perfect accuser to demonstrate what is happening today.

Take a random Law Society licencee, call her… say #3. She is highly a trained “officer of the court” and she is so expert, she teaches other young lawyers/future licencees.

Then, imbue her with a personal skill at computers, maintaining her own web sites to supplement her LSO licence income. Say she has 6 of them. She has lots of experience in both the law and computers. She would KNOW how to avoid “seen say” when she brings in evidence.

What does our fictional lawyer do?

She uses a high tech tool to record what she is seeing on her computer so she can take it to police for use at trial.

That tool is called “CMD-C and CMD-V”. Already you are impressed, right?

She uses copy/paste to tell her computer to go find the characters in the screen before her and copy them into a Word document. Now instead of “seensay”, she has “seencopy”.

“Seencopy” lets her save her Word document to a USB stick and take it to police, where she uses it with her testimony to get me arrested.

She shows the trained detective her stacks of paper, and she moans about how MUCH of it there is. As a lawyer now REQUIRES paper in EVERYTHING she does, she complains I typed up way too much paper and that is part of her complaint.

Then she says I type 100 pages at times. Which is impossible but the cop has no way to know if 100 is realistic size blog post.

I just realized this post is not “completely” different.

Sorry, eh?

Author: Bob Lepp

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