back to article 8086 and All That. Revisited

Editor's Note: Verity Stob's celebrated history of computing was first published in EXE magazine in 1997, but has been unobtainable on the internets for several years. Now, thanks to the painstaking reconstruction of small pieces of parchment, and a small monetary inducement, we can now bring it to you as a Seasonal Treat. With …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Could someone kindly pass me the brain bleach?

  2. IanzThingz


    Hitler was actually a beastly Austrian.

    /pedant :)

    Beer, because there are some very nice European beers :)

    1. Steve Knox

      Re: German?

      Depends on whether you mean by genetics*, birth nationality, or chosen nationality.

      *In which case he was Germanic; genetics know no political boundaries.

      1. Chris Miller

        Bismarck (as usual) had the best put-down:

        Your Bavarian is a strange fellow - halfway between an Austrian and a human being.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    managed to get all the references in this one!

  4. frank ly

    Through a glass, darkly

    And she dances! Thank you Verity.

  5. John Brown (no body) Silver badge


    "the taste of greased leather."

    See icon.

    Maybe I should have posted AC?

  6. John Gamble
    Thumb Up

    This... Is Genius

    I particularly liked the "Minnie the Moocher" variant verse.

    I eagerly await the Next Thirty Years explained in such engrossing detail. Surely it didn't all end at 1980? I understand there was an impressive commercial released in 1984, for example.

  7. Pet Peeve

    As one of the very few Americans who get the reference...

    The article's last sentence should have been:

    And that's where computer history came to a .

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not worth the effort

    I'm sorry, but the resurrection wasn't worth it. Also, with more ARM processors than any other, Cambridge is once again Top Computer City.

  9. Captain DaFt


    More or less as accurate as some modern histories of computing that I've seen, but it did have me double checking to make sure I wasn't on Dr. Boli's website!

  10. A.B.Leal


    Nice tip of the hat on Tommy Flowers. Many of the people who did real work stay in the shadow of the few big figures that fit in the media's scratchpad.

    You might be amused to know that there is a street in Portugal (sort of) bearing his name. If you look up "Rua do Flower, Vila Nova de Gaia", you'll find it. No, it's not him specifically, maybe it was named for a relative who lived there a long time ago.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Colossus

      I watched a rerun of a documentary about the Colossus recently, and it featured an interview with Tommy Flowers as he tapped away at his IBM PC. He must have been in his late eighties at that point, but still excited by the technology behind computing. An utter legend.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Oh Yeah, Anglo Claptrap

    The truth is that many people before that Mr Babbage were working on some sort of computational machines. Schickhard, Pascal (yeah, the guy whose name was used by Mr Wirth recently), Leibniz, Gauss (of standard deviation and much more fame) and probably many more did this kind of stuff. Oh, I forgot a guy named Jacquard who had programmable weaving machines based on paper tapes.

    Some googleing:

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Oh Yeah, Anglo Claptrap

      Those were calculating machines, anyone can make an adding machine, a computer is different

      Jacquard is interesting in inventing the printer a century before the computer.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Oh Yeah, Anglo Claptrap

        >Jacquard is interesting in inventing the printer a century before the computer.

        But did he invent printing consumables that were more expensive than thoroughbred Stallion seed, millilitre for millilitre?

    2. Graham Dawson Silver badge

      Re: Oh Yeah, Anglo Claptrap

      The question is, were they turing complete?

      Computer says no.

      Babbage was the only one to work on a true general purpose computer that would have been turing complete if it was ever completed. Shame it wasn't, really. We could have ruled the world.


    3. Not That Andrew

      Re: Oh Yeah, Anglo Claptrap

      You do realise this is humour, don't you? That's why it's in Bootnotes (R.I.P. Odds 'n Sods). Specifically it's a pastiche of a famous work of humour called "1066 and All That", which is a parody of British history textbooks of the 20's and 30's, complete with their obsessive Anglocentricity.

    4. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Oh Yeah, Anglo Claptrap

      I hear your grandmother is interested in your seminar on extracting the contents of eggs.

      It's sad when someone explains the joke. It's sadder when someone doesn't get the joke, then explains why it's wrong by providing vague, trivial information already familiar to the audience.

      It's tragic when they follow that up by providing links to websites that any interested reader, however implausible such a creature might be, could have located with less effort than it would take to copy and paste them. (Pro tip: The Reg's comment forums let you insert HTML anchor elements.)

  12. mhoulden

    There's a Verity Stob book that was published in 2005. I think it's time for an revised reprint.

  13. jr424242

    I always thought

    The reason the British didn't make computers is that they couldn't figure out how to make them leak oil.

    1. jake Silver badge

      @jr424242 (was: Re: I always thought)

      You've never seen the capacitors in the power supplies at Bletchley Park, have you?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @jr424242 (was: I always thought)

        Hmm, PCB filled capcitors.....lovely.

        Must remember to wash my hands before eating sandwiches after handling those capacitors.

    2. Armando 123

      Re: I always thought

      @jr424242 - Rats, beat me to it. My dad had an Austin Healey that makes this one of my favorite jokes EVAH.

  14. jake Silver badge

    "the fondness rats exhibit for the taste of greased leather."

    Thus neatly explaining his Great Grandson's taste in trousers & album artwork. Shame that the surname was changed in an inadvertent key-punch error when the pre-teen Jean-Jacques and his family moved to Surrey & his father had to get his paperwork updated.

  15. jai

    Early Xmas present

    Yay!! i was worried we wouldn't get anything from Verity this month. That's made my xmas, and it's not even started yet :)

  16. disgruntled yank Silver badge


    Well, if you were going to try to compete with the beating sweeping UNIVAC, you shouldn't have let the Dysons emigrate, that's all.

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