Categories
Technology

The first supercomputer, IBM’s 305 RAMAC from 1956

In September 1956 IBM launched the 305 RAMAC, the world’s first supercomputer with 5 MB of data.

The machine weighed over a ton — it took a team of people to transport it.

To put the computer size and storage in perspective, our pocket-sized phones contain 256GB of storage. A grain of rice dwarfs the world’s smallest computer.

The world’s smallest computer next to a grain of rice

120 Years of Moore’s Law

Like fire and farming techniques before it, the ubiquity of computers and the exponential processing speed of chips, also known as Moore’s Law, changed the course of history. But even Moore’s Law is dying in exchange for brain-inspired chips.

Writes venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson who updated Ray Kurzweil’s visualization of Moore’s Law:

The fine-grained parallel compute architecture of a GPU maps better to the needs of deep learning than a CPU. There is a poetic beauty to the computational similarity of a processor optimized for graphics processing and the computational needs of a sensory cortex, as commonly seen in neural networks today.

Stephen T. Jurvetson

Dare we say it, the next supercomputer is not only artificially intelligent, but it also melds the mind and the machine.

Forget Google. Imagine having already downloaded all the relevant knowledge directly to your mind and using it expeditiously.

Here’s how IBM’s Director of Research Dario Gil sees the fusion of chips, neurons, artificial intelligence, and quantum computing wiring together.

“We’re beginning to see an answer to what is happening at the end of Moore’s law. It’s a question that has been the front of the industry for a long, long time.

And the answer is that we’re going to have this new foundation of bits plus neurons plus qubits coming together, over the next decade [at] different maturity levels – bits [are] enormously mature, the world of neural networks and neural technology, next in maturity, [and] quantum the least mature of those. [It] is important to anticipate what will happen when those three things intersect within a decade.”

Dario Gil
Categories
Culture & Society Technology

Christopher Reeves explains what Superman represents

In this video, the late Christopher Reeves who played Superman explains what the fictional superhero represents.

In a world of selfishness ushered in by smart devices and social media, Superman as a friend metaphor is a subtle reminder of the power of relationships.

It’s nice to know that there’s someone out there who’s willing to offer a hand and be a friend regardless of supposed differences, whether that be in race or politics.

Big thinking, small fragile world — such prescient words from Superman in the tribal world that is today.

Categories
Technology

The original Apple Watch: Seiko’s TV Watch from 1982

In what was amazing technology for its day, the Seiko TV watch (Model T001-3) from 1982 is still one of the smallest TVs ever made with a 1 1/4″ screen.

With a Liquid Crystal Video Display (LVD), the images would only appear when exposed to light. So the brighter the light, the better the screen pixels looked.

The watch made its big-screen debut in 80s movies James Bond Octopussy and Dragnet.

It’s easy to see how the Model T001-3 served as a precursor to the Apple Watch, which made its debut three decades later in 2015.

Categories
Architecture & Design Culture & Society Health Technology

Why pirates actually wore an eye patch

Eye patch, parrot, and wooden leg, and a limp. Those are the essential ingredients to becoming a pirate.

But did you know that pirates wore an eye patch, not because of a missing eye, but because the patch increased their sight instantly inside low lit areas?

During raids, pirates needed the ability to flip up the eye patch so they could quickly snag a cannonball faster below the deck of the ship.

So one eye was trained to see in daylight, the other in dark. The pirate patch was an early technology to solve the issue of temporary blindness caused by going to a dark room from a brightly lit space.

Why pirates actually wore an eye patch
Categories
Architecture & Design Technology Travel

The musical road in the Netherlands that sings Frisian national anthem

There’s a road in the Netherlands that starts to sing the Frisian Folk Song when cars hit the right speed of 60 kph/40 mph limit.

The musical road resides in the village of Jelsum in the north part of Holland.

The structure of the strategically laid “rumble strips” was built in 2018 to celebrate the unique language and culture of the Friesland region. But the special ‘singing road’ also served as a warning to slow down speedy drivers.

However, the musical experience struck a chord (literally) with the locals who grew tired of hearing the notes 24 hours a day.

According to Dutch News, the €80,000 custom-built pavement markers were finally removed for driving (see what I did there) ‘psychological torture’.

Categories
Architecture & Design Technology

Dual head-mounted listening devices

This dual-mounted listening device served as an aircraft detection device before the invention of radar in 1935.

The Dutch military used the elephant-looking ears to detect approaching enemy aircraft by listening afar for engine sounds.

There were various iterations of the acoustic locators.

The Germans created a dual sight and sound system in 1917 that combined sound-ranging capabilities with binoculars to scope out aircraft.

The Imperial Japanese army used massive war tubas (resembling the musical tuba instrument) in World War I to detect the sound of incoming aircraft.

Imperial Japan massive war tubas in World War I

The Dutch also created personal horns in 1935 that were double the size of the personal sound locator.

England built concrete acoustic mirrors around its coasts up until 1935.

Learn more about pre-radar objects here.