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Breaking News Home | All | Religion | Society | Tech | Choice | Fridays | SA Newsroom
FRONT PAGE  |  12/15/2017
SATURDAY, APR 26, 2008  |  9 comments
150-Year-Old Computer Brought to Life
Designed nearly 150 years ago but never actually built until recently, the Difference Engine No. 2 designed by Charles Babbage (1791 to 1871) is a piece of Victorian technology meant to tussle with logarithms and trigonometry long before the first modern computer. Technophiles have a rare opportunity beginning May 10 to see one of these devices (only two exist) on display at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif.

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· Page 1 ·  Found: 9 user comment(s)
News Item5/1/08 2:59 PM
Jim Lincoln | Nebraska  Find all comments by Jim Lincoln
Dan, I liked COBOL, it must be because I'm English orientated. Not that you would notice that from a lot of comments here. Neil, the French are an interesting people, too bad they killed or ran off all the Huguenots, they sure could have used them through the centuries.
9

News Item4/29/08 9:34 PM
Dan | Tennessee  Find all comments by Dan
Jesus is a programmer. He designed DNA (talk about code!) and created the minds of men who could in turn write programs with the abilities that He provided them.

I‚Äôm also a coder. Have done assembler (PC & mainframe), COBOL, Pascal, C/C++, RPG, Rexx, Unix shell scripting and others. But when you look under the covers of all of them, it‚Äôs the same machine language (assuming the same hardware platform). Kind of like the underlying text of the Bible. You can build all kinds of ‚Äúversions‚ÄĚ on top of it but to really find out what‚Äôs going on you have to look at the underlying text.

8

News Item4/29/08 3:28 PM
Neil | Tucson  Find all comments by Neil
Jim, the Ada designers (at Honeywell Bull in France) elaborated upon many Pascal concepts, so it is even more structured, e.g., derived & private types, packages, & generics, for example. The French love method & system, whether in software, cuisine, cities, warfare, or theology.
7

News Item4/29/08 2:27 PM
Jim Lincoln | Nebraska  Find all comments by Jim Lincoln
Ah, sorry, Neil, when I was trying to pick a word, I picked program instead of language. Yes, Linux users can get gnat, and quite a few other programming languages as well. Calvinistic, I would have thought something like Pascal and its variants would be Calvinistic -- they're highly structured.
6

News Item4/29/08 11:18 AM
Neil | Tucson  Find all comments by Neil
Ada for NC lathes, etc.? That's news to me, though it certainly is possible. Maybe it's a safety thing there, too.

A major problem with Ada is logistics - other than recent free versions like GNAT, its compilers have always been costly, in part because they had to be formally validated, & because of the "semantic gap". Efficiency problems have been largely resolved.

5

News Item4/29/08 10:58 AM
San Jose John | San Jose, CA  Find all comments by San Jose John
Never used it, but first heard about it
(ADA programming language) while taking
a machine shop class in the early 90s.

Evidently it was (is?) used to control
modern CNC machine shop tools.

4

News Item4/28/08 3:03 PM
Neil | Tucson  Find all comments by Neil
Ada is not a program, it is a programming language *standard* for which there are many compliant implementations, such as GNAT (Linux, Cygwin, Win32), Rational, and HP (formerly the venerable DEC Ada). It is analogous to the ANSI C standard.

The Euros still seem to like it - the French TGV, for example. Be grateful that airliner manufacturers have used it for their flight software - it's usually more fault-tolerant (able to detect & recover from errors) than C or C++. Think of it as the programming language for Calvinists.

3

News Item4/28/08 2:49 PM
Jim Lincoln | Nebraska  Find all comments by Jim Lincoln
Ada, and the computer program that was named after her, seemed to be doomed to be forgotten. Considering her background, God was gracious to her in giving her a more practical life.

Terrible idea she had though, computers writing music.

2

News Item4/26/08 10:37 PM
Neil | Tucson  Find all comments by Neil
Ada, Countess of Lovelace, is thought to be the first programmer for her proposed algorithm that could have been implemented on Babbage's engine had it been built then. I wonder if they tried that on the modern one? Contrary to a scurrilous comment on the above webpage, there is no evidence that she was his "girlfriend."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ada_Lovelace
The Ada programming language, MIL-STD 1815A, was named in her honor.

Another English invention, Colossus, was the first programmable electronic digital computer:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colossus_computer
The more gen'l-purpose ENIAC came a bit later in America, but got more publicity.

1
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