Original Publication Date: 1988-Mar-31
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-06
Software Patent Institute
JEAN E. SAMMET: AUTHOR [+2]
THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.
Copyright ©; 1988 by the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. Used with permission.
JEAN E. SAMMET,
This department attempts to help people think about the history of computing in new ways, through the mechanism of questions, with answers on a separate page -- thus permitting the reader to do self- testing. The answers list source material for further self-study on topics relating to the questions. Occasionally some questions will be used that have either no answers or controversial answers.
Readers are urged to send suggested questions (and answers with cited material) to the department editor.
1. Considering the importance in everyday life of fiction, television and computing, it is not too surprising to learn that they have been combined. What might be surprising is to find out how early this was done. When and under what circumstances was a TV fiction show with a script not written by a human being actually shown on the air? How was the script created, and what were the circumstances? Who were the people involved?
2. It would probably be impossible for airlines to exist today without effective reservations systems. Under what circumstances, and for what airline, was the first of these created, and what was it called? On what machines did the early versions run? How were the programs written?
3. Today there are a great many computer stores of varying kinds, and nobody considers this unusual. Nevertheless, at some time and place, there had to be a "first" computer store. Where and when did the first one open, and what did they stock?
4. A significant-sized industry has been created to enable individuals and corporations to have on-line access to data bases. What were the earliest of these data bases, and some of the major milestones since then? How many data bases were available in the early years?
5. The computing system known as the Burroughs B 5000 was deemed important enough to have an entire issue of the Annals devoted to it. The following questions attempt to elicit some of the highlights about that particular computer. a. What were the major achievements of the B 5000, and when was it announced? b. What were the major hardware characteristics? c. Although the user did not have access to it, there really was a basic machine language. What was it? Was there an assembler, and did the users know about it? d. How did this system achieve (or justify) claims of a very rapid translation of high level languages? e. Did the earlier computer Burroughs 220 have any role or importance in the development of the B 5000, and if so, what was it? f. What were the results of self-compiling the BALGOL Compiler which had been written initially in assembly language on the Burroughs 220? g. Who were the first two customers for the B 5000, and when did they receive their machines? h. Based on the view of some of the participants,...