Week 3 IxD History: Computing Technology in the Workplace


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  • Mauchly and Eckert applied for a patent on a "General-Purpose Electronic Computer" in 1947, which was finally granted in 1964. The rights to the patent had been sold in 1951 to Remington Rand (to become Sperry Rand); that company created a subsidiary (Illinois Scientific Developments) to start demanding royalty payments from other equipment manufacturers in the electronic data processing industry in the 1960s.
    In June 1954 IBM patent attorney A.J. Etienne sought Atanasoff's help in breaking an Eckert-Mauchly patent on a revolving magnetic memory drum, having been alerted by Clifford Berry that the ABC's revolving capacitor memory drum may have constituted prior art. Atansoff agreed to assist the attorney, but IBM ultimately entered a patent-sharing agreement with Sperry Rand, the owners of the Eckert-Mauchly memory patent, and the case was dropped.[3]
    On May 26, 1967, computer manufacturer Honeywell Inc. filed a lawsuit against Sperry Rand in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, Minnesota challenging the validity of the ENIAC patent. The trial, one of the longest and most expensive in the federal courts to that time, began on June 1, 1971, lasted until March 13, 1972, had 77 witnesses, plus 80 depositions and 30,000 exhibits. Atanasoff's machine was introduced as prior art.
    The case was legally resolved on October 19, 1973 when U.S. District Judge Earl R. Larson held the ENIAC patent invalid, ruling that the ENIAC derived many basic ideas from the Atanasoff-Berry Computer. Judge Larson explicitly stated, "Eckert and Mauchly did not themselves first invent the automatic electronic digital computer, but instead derived that subject matter from one Dr. John Vincent Atanasoff".
    Sperry declined to appeal the decision in Honeywell v. Sperry Rand, but the decision received little publicity at the time, perhaps because it was overshadowed by the Watergate era "Saturday Night Massacre" firing of special prosecutor Archibald Cox by President Richard Nixon the next day. Despite the uncontested legal decision, some computer history publications continued to represent the ENIAC, rather than the ABC, as the first electronic digital computer.
  • The computer itself could store 9kb of memory

    All interaction with these machines was intimately connected to the nature of the hardware, namely the handling of data in aggregates called files, which consisted of records stored sequentially on reels of tape. Although tape offered many advantages over punched cards, it resembled cards in the way it stored records one after the other in sequence. In order to use this data, one frequently had to sort it into an order (alphabetic, or based on a certain binary operator) that would allow one to find a specific record. Sorting data dominated early commercial computing, and as late as 1973 was estimated to occupy 25% of all computer time.

    Among the processing functions was a program to sort a file and print out various reports sorted by one or more keys. These reports were bound into folders and it was from these printed volumes that people in an organization had access to corporate data. For example, if a customer called an insurance company with question about his or her account, an employee would refer to the most recent printout, probably sorted by customer number. Sorting and merging records into a stored file dominated data processing until disks were developed that allowed access to a specific record.
  • UNIVersal Automatic Computer

    As had happened with BINAC, EMCC's estimates of delivery dates and costs proved to be optimistic, and the company was soon in financial difficulty again. In early 1950, the company was for sale; potential buyers included National Cash Register and Remington Rand. Remington Rand made the first offer, and purchased EMCC on February 15, 1950, whereupon it became the UNIVAC division of Remington Rand. The first UNIVAC was not delivered until March 1951, over a year after EMCC was acquired by Remington Rand, and too late to help much for the 1950 census.

    The pieces modeled are a Uniprinter (2 pieces), a tape to card converter (3 pieces), a high-speed printer (4 pieces), 8 Uniservo tape drive units (1 L-shaped piece), the supervisory control with typewriter (2 pieces) and a chair, a Unityper II with chair, a verifier with chair, the central processing unit (CPU), and a card to tape converter (3 pieces).

    However, upon acceptance at the company premises, truck load after truck load of punched cards arrived to be recorded on tape (by what was called jokingly the card to pulp converters) for processing by UNIVAC. The Census Bureau used the prototype UNIVAC on EMCC premised for months. Mauchly resigned from Remington Rand in 1952; his 10-year contract with them ran until 1960, and prohibited him from working on other computer projects during that time. Remington Rand merged with Sperry Corporation in 1955, and in 1975, the division was renamed Sperry UNIVAC.[1] The company's corporate descendant today is Unisys.
  • Positioned as giant brains
  • With the death of EMCC's chairman and chief financial backer Harry L. Straus in a plane crash on October 25, 1949, EMCC was sold to typewriter maker Remington Rand on February 15, 1950. (Eckert and Mauchly now reported to Leslie Groves, the retired army general who had managed the Manhattan Project.) Remington Rand had its own lab in Norwalk, Connecticut, and later bought Engineering Research Associates in St. Paul, Minnesota. Remington Rand merged these groups, calling the result the Univac Division of Remington Rand.

    The most famous UNIVAC product was the UNIVAC I mainframe computer of 1951, which became known for predicting the outcome of the U.S. presidential election the following year.

    In 1953 or 1954 Remington Rand merged their tabulating machine division in Norwalk, Connecticut, the Engineering Research Associates "scientific" computer division, and the UNIVAC "business" computer division into a single division under the UNIVAC name.

    In 1955 Remington Rand merged with Sperry Corporation to become Sperry Rand. The UNIVAC division of Remington Rand was renamed the Univac division of Sperry Rand. General Douglas MacArthur was chosen to head the company. Around 1975, to assist "corporate identity" the name was changed to Sperry Univac, along with "Sperry Remington", "Sperry New Holland" etc.

    In the 1960s, UNIVAC was one of the eight major computer companies in an industry then referred to as "Snow White and the seven dwarfs"—IBM, the largest, being Snow White and the others being the dwarfs: Burroughs, NCR, Control Data Corporation, General Electric, RCA and Honeywell. (Another industry player, albeit much smaller, was Scientific Data Systems). In the 1970s, after GE sold its computer business to Honywell and RCA sold its to Univac, the analogy to the seven dwarfs of legend became less apt and the remaining small firms became known as the "BUNCH" (Burroughs, Univac, NCR, Control Data, and Honeywell).
  • Positioned as giant calculators
  • The history of human computer interaction was, in this era, synonymous with the history of programming languages. These are languages that generate machine codes from codes that were more like human language -- either algebra or text -- the way a person might describe a process.
  • Originally worked on the Harvard Mark 1, an early electromechanical computer. Users punched a row of holes in a paper tape for each instruction. Since the Mark 1 was not a stored program computer, Hopper had to code the same instructions over and over again, and she quickly realized that if she could re-use the tape for another program, that would save time.

    With a stored program computer, a sequence of instructions that would be needed more than once could be stored on a tape. When a particular problem required that sequence, the computer could read the tape, store the sequence in memory, and then insert the sequence into the proper places in the program. By building up a library of sequences representing the most frequently used operations of a computer, a programmer could write a sophisticated and complex program without constant recourse to binary.

    Mauchley persuaded her to work on programming the UNIVAC.
  • “Grandma COBOL”

    It was from Grace Hopper that COBOL acquired its most famous attribute, namely the ability to use long character names that made the resulting language look like ordinary English. In FORTRAN one might write IF A>B, but in COBOL the statement might read IF employee-hours IS GREATER THAN maximum.

    Gave the illusion that comptuers understood more than they do. Getting computers do what you mean, not what you say, is still a problem.
  • Who is the user? The programmer? The keypunch operator? The supervisor of the machine? The people who refer to the output?
  • The "memex" was a theoretical analog computer described by the scientist and engineer Vannevar Bush in the 1945 The Atlantic Monthly article "As We May Think." The word was a contraction of "memory extender" conceiving Hypertext and the World Wide Web, envisioned as microfilm but computer. Bush described the device as electronically linked to a library and able to display books and films from the library and automatically follow references from one work to another. This idea directly influenced computer pioneer Douglas Engelbart, and also led to Ted Nelson's groundbreaking work in concepts of hypermedia and hypertext. Written as the war ended, and the world was abuzz with possibilities of computing machines.

    Identified the information storage and retrieval problem: new knowledge does not reach the people who could benefit from it
    “publication has been extended far beyond our present ability to make real use of the record”
  • 1960 J.R. Licklider – postulated “Man-Computer Symbiosis“, which revolutionized human and machines interaction and information handling, the goals and visions are:
    Time sharing
    Electronic I/O
    Interactive real-time system
    Large scale information storage and retrieval
    Combined speech recognition, character recognition, light-pen editing
    Natrual language understanding, speech recognition and heuristic programming
  • A visionary, but also eminently practical, responsible, moral, and financially successful. A man of integrity.

    As one of the celebrity industrial designers of the 1930s and 1940s, Dreyfuss dramatically improved the look, feel, and usability of dozens of consumer products. As opposed to Raymond Loewy and other contemporaries, Dreyfuss was not a stylist: he applied common sense and a scientific approach to design problems. His work both popularized the field for public consumption, and made significant contributions to the underlying fields of ergonomics, anthropometrics, and human factors.

    An excellent case study for interaction designers today, as his industrial design work was in the heyday of that discipline, and his accounts provide a good foundation for designers who seek ways to negotiate with management, marketing, customer service, and technology.
  • The book is fetishized for its illustrations and typography!
  • Whirlwind Innovations:
    magnetic-core memory
    graphical output terminal to display results
    light pen for operator interaction
    software aids
    diagnostic routines
    data communications over telephone lines
    computer-run air-traffic control (SAGE)
    automatic control of machine tools
    time sharing
  • This led to two parallel paths. The first was to cost reduce the teletype interaction, a road that was initially attractive because it led to cheaper and more accessible machines. The second path pushed the limit of designing the human-computer interaction, developing the display and pointing device until the value of using a desktop and mouse was proven, and it became the dominant design. These paths stayed parallel for a while, with the typing model winning while price was the most important issue. As soon as the cost came down enough the graphical interface won out.

    The typing model was the path of least resistance . It was much less demanding for technologists because they could build on the powerful machines like ENIAC that were already normal in the industry.

    The path to the GUI was based on the mouse. A pointing device lets you choose commands from menus, which means you can move from recall to recognition. This road combined a display and pointing device, leading to the desktop and the mouse.
  • Early 60s saw three major developments, the first was SAGE

    The Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) was an automated control system for tracking and intercepting enemy bomber aircraft used by NORAD from the late 1950s into the 1980s.
    Enabled real-time operation by multiple users.
  • The IBM System/360 (S/360) is a mainframe computer system family announced by IBM on April 7, 1964. It was the first family of computers designed to cover the complete range of applications, from small to large, both commercial and scientific. The design made a clear distinction between architecture and implementation, allowing IBM to release a suite of compatible designs at different prices. The System/360 models announced in 1964 ranging from 8 kB and up to of 8 MB main memory, though the latter was unusual. A large system might have 256 KB of main storage. The 360s were extremely successful in the market, allowing customers to purchase a smaller system with the knowledge they would always be able to migrate upward if their needs grew.
  • The term "mini computer" evolved in the 1960s to describe the "small" third generation computers that became possible with the use of transistor and core memory technologies. They usually took up one or a few cabinets the size of a large refrigerator or two, compared with mainframes that would usually fill a room.

    The PDP-8 was the first successful commercial minicomputer, produced by Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) in the 1960s. DEC introduced it on 22 March 1965, and sold more than 50,000 systems, the most of any computer up to that date.[1] It was the first widely sold computer in the DEC PDP series of computers (the PDP-5 was not originally intended to be a general-purpose computer).

    Great photo of this computer on the back of a potato picker in the fields
  • Shift from batch processing to time sharing
    Large mainframe computers with terminals attached
    Gave the illusion that you were operating your own computer
    “Computer utility” like an electric power utility

    Shift from timesharing of mainframe or minicomputers to personal computers
  • IBM develops the SABRE (Semi-Automatic Business-Related Environment) reservation system for American Airlines, the industry's first to work over phone lines in "real time." The system links high-speed computers and data communications to handle seat inventory and passenger records from terminals in more than 50 cities.

    The SABRE reservation system for airline passengers was the first large, high-speed commercial computer/communications network that operated in "real time" -- handling transactions at the time they occurred. It was developed by IBM for American Airlines over six years of joint research and became operational in 1962. (VV3072)
  • Online transaction processing vs Time sharing
    Although computer usage was no longer in batches of cards, some of the basic structure of a punched card installation remained.
    Sometimes called “dumb terminals” or “glass teletypes”
    Offered little beyond data entry and viewing
    Operated on the assumption that the user would be keying information into selected fields
    That the same fields (name, DOB) would be repeated over and over
    Therefore terminal did not transmit information as it was keyed in, but waited until the entire screen/record was finished
    Typically used in rooms near the mainframe (replacing keypunch rooms?)
    Rarely in private offices
  • Developing software for timesharing systems was disastrous for many manufacturers
    This was the era where software costs started to exceed hardware costs
    IBM lost $50 million on developing a time sharing system for its mainframes
    GE launched an early timesharing system at Dartmouth
  • Project MAC was a large and well-funded effort. Its initial grant from DARPA for a little over $2 million per year was quickly raised. Funding peaked at $4.3 million in 1969, slumped to under $3 million in 1973, and rose again in the late 1970s. Project MAC's research staff peaked in 1967 at 400.

    The founders of Project MAC envisioned the creation of a computer utility whose computational power would be as reliable as an electric utility. To this end, Corbató brought the first computer time-sharing system, CTSS, with him from the MIT Computation Center, using the DARPA funding to purchase an IBM 7094 for research use. One of the early focuses of Project MAC would be the development of a successor to CTSS, Multics, which was to be the first high availability computer system, developed as a part of an industry consortium including General Electric and Bell Laboratories.

    GE Partnered with MIT Project MAC and Bell Labs to develop MULTICS
    Wholly unprepared for the magnitude of how hard it is to develop software
    GE exited the computer business as a result

    Because of software problems, believed that only small, specialized systems would be viable. Niche markets for science, engineering, and business computing with a max of 30-50 users, not the computer utility imagined.
  • One benefit of the Multics disaster was UNIX, developed at Bell Labs/AT&T
    Led systems designers to explore a small, minimalist design
    UNIX was frugal in the extreme: two and three letter commands
    Output of any process was usable for the input of another
    Meant that nothing was formatted with page breaks or status info, reduced clutter

    “Wanted to build not just a good environment for programming, but a system around which a fellowship could form”

    UNIX was well positioned to take advantage of a mood swing in computer usage in the early 1970s caused by a growing exasperation with large, centralized mainframe computers and the failure of the large computer utility. Users were beginning to reject the centralized mainframe in favor of a decentralized small computer in their own department. Few manufacturers offered suitable operating systems, and UNIX filled the void.

    Bell Labs offered it to colleges and universities at low cost, and the framework organic growth easy. It enabled programmers to stand on the shoulders of others.
  • Week 3 IxD History: Computing Technology in the Workplace

    1. HISTORY OF INTERACTION DESIGN Week 3: Computing Technology in the Workplace
    2. 1875 http://www.earlyofficemuseum.com/IMagesWWW/cb000183_c._1900_Bookkeeping_Office_OM.JPG 2
    3. http://www.officemuseum.com/1876_Amberg_File_Asher__Adams.jpg http://www.officemuseum.com/1876_Amberg_Letter_File_Cabinets_Asher__Adams.jpg http://www.officemuseum.com/Rotary_Slate_Pencil_Sharpener.jpg 3
    4. 1900 http://www.earlyofficemuseum.com/Photo%20Gallery%201900-1909/1902_Detroit_Typing_Dept._Nat._Cash_Register_4a20574r.JPG 4 http://www.earlyofficemuseum.com/1907_Burroughs_Corp_Collection_Charles_Babbage_Institute_U_MN_cb000184.jpg
    5. http://www.officemuseum.com/typewriters_office_models.htm http://www.officemuseum.com/calculating_machines.htm http://www.officemuseum.com/communications_equipment.htm http://www.officemuseum.com/filing_equipment_cabinets.htm 5
    6. 1975 http://www.flickr.com/photos/army_arch/3867647402/sizes/o/ 6
    7. http://www-03.ibm.com/ibm/history/documents/index.html 7
    8. 2000 8
    9. 9
    11. 11
    12. ENIAC (1946) http://mrsec.wisc.edu/Edetc/SlideShow/slides/computer/eniac.html 12
    13. PRESPER ECKERT & JOHN MAUCHLEY “ (1919 – 1995) (1907 – 1980) I built the first electronic digital computer and the prototype was finished up in October or November of 1939. — John Vincent Atanasoff http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:PresEckertJohnMauchlyENIAC.jpg “ He lies like a rug. — J. Presper Eckert 13
    14. “ One would think that if a man invented a machine that revolutionized the world, took out a patent on that machine, and had the full financial and legal resources of a major American corporation on his side, he would spend most of the rest of his life enjoying fortune and fame. Edison did. Bell did. By and large, Pres Eckert and John Mauchley did not. —Shurkin, Engines of the Mind 14
    15. http://www.library.upenn.edu/exhibits/rbm/mauchly/img/unidia.jpg 15
    16. UNIVAC (1951) http://americanhistory.si.edu/collections/comphist/objects/univac.htm 16
    17. 17
    18. http://www.digibarn.com/collections/ads/univac-50s/stand-alone/index.htm http://www.digibarn.com/collections/ads/univac-50s/divide-by-zero/index.htm 18
    19. IBM ELECTRONIC CALCULATORS (1950s) http://www.digibarn.com/collections/ads/ibm-50s/index.html 19
    21. GRACE MURRAY HOPPER “ (1906 – 1992) A ship in port is safe; but that is not what ships are built for. Sail out to sea and do new things. “ It's easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission. http://www.flickr.com/photos/publicresourceorg/493885707/ 21
    23. “ Not only would a programmer hardly ever see the computer, he or she might never even see the keypunch on which the programs were entered into the computer. —Ceruzzi, A History of Modern Computing 23
    25. “ VANNEVAR BUSH (1890 – 1974) The world has arrived at an age of cheap complex devices of great reliability; and something is bound to come of it. http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/File:Vannevar_Bush_portrait.jpg 25
    26. “AS WE MAY THINK” “ (1945) Consider a future device for individual use, which is a sort of mechanized private file and library. It needs a name, and to coin one at random, memex will do. A memex is a device in which an individual stores all his books, records, and communications, and which is mechanized so that it may be consulted with exceeding speed and flexibility. It is an enlarged intimate supplement to his memory. 26
    27. WEB MEMEX 27
    28. J.C.R. LICKLIDER “ (1915 – 1990) The hope is that, in not too many years, human brains and computing machines will be coupled together very tightly and that the resulting partnership will think as no human brain has ever thought and process data in a way not approached by the information-handling machines we know today. — Man-Computer Symbiosis http://marcoalemes.files.wordpress.com/2008/09/jcl2.jpg 28
    30. AI HCI 30
    32. HENRY DREYFUSS “ (1904 – 1972) The products we design are going to be ridden in, sat upon, looked at, talked into, activated, operated, or in some way used by people individually or en masse. If the point of contact between the product and the people becomes a point of friction, then the industrial designer has failed. If, on the other hand, people are made safer, more comfortable, more eager to purchase, more efficient—or just plain happier—the industrial designer has succeeded. http://perpenduum.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/09/henrydreyfuss.jpg 32
    33. DESIGNING FOR PEOPLE (1955) 33
    34. 34
    35. 35
    37. WHIRLWIND (1952) http://www.computermuseum.li/Testpage/Whirlwind-1949.htm http://www.computerhistory.org/collections/accession/102622503 37
    39. SAGE (1963) http://www.computermuseum.li/Testpage/IBM-SAGE-computer.htm 39
    40. IBM SYSTEM/360 (1964) 40
    41. DEC PDP-8 (1964) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PDP-8 41
    43. HERB GROSCH GRACE HOPPER “ Computer performance increases as the square of the cost. If computer A costs twice as much as computer B, you should expect computer A to be four times as fast as “ In pioneer days they used oxen for heavy pulling, and when one ox couldn't budge a log, they didn't try to grow a larger ox. We shouldn't be trying for bigger computers, but for computer B. more systems of computers. 43
    44. SABRE (1960s) http://gadgets.boingboing.net/2008/08/08/101-classic-computer.html http://www-03.ibm.com/ibm/history/index.html 44
    45. DATA ENTRY 45
    46. “ By the mid-1960s, data processing computers for business had become well established. The commercial computer installation was characterized by a large, centralized computer manufactured by IBM or one of the other half- dozen mainframe computer companies, running a batch-processing or real-time application. The role of the user in this computing environment was to feed data into the computer system and interact with it in the very restricted fashion determined by the application. —Kelly and Aspray, “Computer” 46
    47. MULTICS (1964 – 1969) Project MAC @ MIT _Mathematics and Computation _Multiple Access Computer _Multi-access Computing _Machine Aided Cognition _Man and Computer _Maniacs And Clowns _Men Against Computers 47
    48. UNIX (1969–1974) 48
    50. THE TRANSISTOR http://www.jiict.be/afbeeldingen/transistor.jpg 50
    51. http://cva.stanford.edu/classes/cs99s/papers/hennessy-jouppi-computer-technology-and-architecture.pdf 51
    52. NEXT WEEK Personal Computing _A Computer of Our Own _Direct Manipulation _The Graphical User Interface _Mobility and Hypertext _The Discipline of Interaction Design
    53. 53