* Posts by PeterO

36 posts • joined 4 Sep 2009

ALGOL 60 at 60: The greatest computer language you've never used and grandaddy of the programming family tree


Re: .. never used .. ?

"The next year the college upgraded to an Elliott 1603, with a massive 16k of RAM,"

Maybe you mean an ICL 1903 , because Elliotts never made a machine called a "1603".


Rugby College course notes

For those who have mentioned learning Algol 60 at Rugby this may be interesting : https://www.peteronion.org.uk/ALGOL/RugbyAlgol.pdf


Re: It started my career move...

The Elliott 500 and 1000 char/sec tape reader design originally came from Cambridge University Mathematical Laboratory's EDSAC team.

See https://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/downloads/books/CambridgeComputing_Ahmed.pdf page 60.


Re: Early Uni Computing

You'll soon be able to relive it all in stunning 3D :-)




Re: It started my career move...

The Algol Plotter Package (Library Tape P104) was a precompiled tape which contained the output of pass one of the compiler (called Own Code) and various bits of compiler state. It was a binary dump of the Own Code so loaded faster than running pass one on the corresponding source code. Your source was then read in and its Own Code appended that already in store. Pass two then read the combined Own Code to produce the executable in core.

That code that could never run? Well, guess what. Now Windows thinks it's Batman


Old Unix kernels never die !

Back in the days of BSD4.3 Unix I was a post-grad student and I built a kernel for a VAX11/750 to try and debug poor NFS performance between the VAX and a IBM PC/AT that had an Enthernet card and ran NFS client software. Several years after I had graduated I got an email from the then sysadmin asking if I knew anything about all the debuging messages with my user name in them that had appeared on the console printer overnight ? And yes it was a proper printing terminal.

Seems my kernel had never been replaced with the original after I fixed the NFS issue in the PC software !

Father of Unix Ken Thompson checkmated: Old eight-char password is finally cracked


Re: Proof of XKCD

5hrs late though !


I had the opportunity to spend a few minutes with Ken Thompson when he visited The National Museum of Computing a few weeks ago :-)


COBOL: Five little letters that if put on a CV would ensure stable income for many a greybeard coder


60 years of Algol 60 coming up next year :-)

Das geeks hit crowdfunding target: IBM mainframes are coming home


Re: Love this bit!

There are multiple responsible "Peter"s at the museum :-)

Sysadmin shut down server, it went ‘Clunk!’ but the app kept running


I'm sure I'm not the only one to have pulled the disk in the failed slot out of the perfectly working raid array :-) "Why are they both beeping at me now ?"

NASA dusts off FORTRAN manual, revives 20-year-old data on Ganymede


Working paper tape readers are not that rare :-)




Microsoft keeps schtum as more battery woes hit Surface sufferers


Re: apparently you don't have to Buy MS to get the Surface feeling

The Dell ad where the guy says something about needing a long battery life when going to places with no electricity seems particularly ironic :-)

'I'm sorry, your lift has had a problem and had to shut down'


Isn't there a "Windows for Warships" ?

Facebook replaces human editors with McChicken romping, Fox News faking AI bots


Who or What ?

The AI isn't even capable of spotting the difference between a "topic" and a "person"...

Joe Wicks

1.5k people talking about this

Not only do I not know what a "Joe Wicks" is, but this tells me nothing about what it has done, so zero chance of me clicking on the link.

'2nd referendum' topples site


“Predictive analytics can help identify where an issue might occur before it takes place,”

Pity that wasn't applied to the whole brexit situation !

This is Sparta? No - it's Microsoft Edge, Son of Internet Explorer


At the edge or in the middle ?

"It refers to the idea of being on the edge of consuming and creating," Being at the edge is only one step away from being an outsider or outcast ?

Surely they should have called it "IM" (In the Middle) ?

'Camera-shy' Raspberry Pi 2 suffers strange 'XENON DEATH FLASH' glitch


That'll be me then....

"A user with the handle PeterO said:"

Raspberry Pi B+: PHWOAR, get a load of those pins


ElReg on the pulse as normal

I can only assume that the ElReg Journos have been on their summer hols for the last 6 weeks since this was released in July

Try to keep up chaps !

Volunteers slam plans to turn Bletchley Park into 'geeky Disneyland'


A well researched summary

Best summary of the situation I've seen : http://freelance.halfacree.co.uk/2014/01/disharmony-at-bletchley-park/

Elderly Bletchley Park volunteer sacked for showing Colossus exhibit to visitors


BBC content was removed due a copyright issue. It's back now with just one "still frame" of a picture removed near the beginning of the piece.


Just to clear up some misunderstandings. You are (and will) will still be able to view Colossus by visiting The National Museum of Computing rather than the Bletchley Park trust's site. Colossus gallery is open every day, the rest of TNMOC is open Thursday,Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

See http://www.tnmoc.org/visit for full details.

Alcatel-Lucent and BT unveil super fat pipe, splurt out 1.4Tb per second across London

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At least there is no mention of this being to do with "superfast broadband" in ElReg's coverage, unlike every other news site that doesn't understand the technology.

Sinclair's FORGOTTEN Australia-only micro revealed!


Even the wikipedia page on the "One per Desk" mentions that it was marketed in the UK by BT as the "TONTO".

Tracking the history of magnetic tape: A game of noughts and crosses


Technology Dead End

In the 1950s and 1960s Elliott Bros. used what was called "Magnetic Film" for the backing store on their 405 and 803 computers.

An 803 with three film handlers is shown here:


Operating handlers are show in the segment between 1:10 and 1:30 in this Pathe news reel:


From Wikipedia:

Optional mass storage is available on an unusual magnetic tape system based on standard 35 mm film stock coated with iron oxide (manufactured by Kodak). At the time this was in use by the film industry to record sound tracks. Elliott's factory at Borehamwood was close to the Elstree film studios which explains the use of the 35mm sprocketed media. The 1000 foot reels held 4096 blocks of 64 words per block (4096 x 64 x 39 = 10,223,616 bits, or the equivalent of about 1.27Mbytes).

Although we have a Film Handler in good condition at The National Museum of Computing we don't have the cabinet full of logic boards (called the "Film Controler") needed to interface the handler to the 803 CPU.

Rise of the machines, south of Milton Keynes


Re: Tunny

See http://www.tnmoc.org/explore/tunny-gallery for details of what is at the museum.


Re: Elliott 803, paper tape and teletype

Hi Chris! Sadly some of the details of the Elliott machines got a bit mixed up by El Reg's Journo ! Probably they were too excited by it all :-) I would trust your memory. There is a picture of the 803 in P4 hanging on the wall behind the 803 at TNMOC. Only yesterday I was running some HCODE programmes on the 803.


@Lars (Elliott)

Rugby College of Engineering and Technology had an Elliott 803 delivered in 1962, so come and revive at least some of your memories. We don't have an authentic operator though !

Brit 2.5-tonne nuke calculator is World's Oldest Working Computer


Re: 1.5kW?

Decatrons are "cold cathode" devices, so they produce very little heat (just like the orange neon indicators in mains switches).


Re: Bletchley Park is awesome.

If all you want to do is visit the "geek-gasam inducing collection of computers", then you don't want to visit the Bletchley Park Trust as such as their tours cover the war time story (intersting as it is) but don't even include a visit to Colossus any more. What you want to do is visit "The National Museum of Computing" which is a separate museum located on the BP site.

DEKATRON reborn: Full details on World's Oldest Digital Computer


Re: Try log tables

The "order code" (and lots of other information) is available on the CCS pages ....




Re: The "The paper tape output " in the picture...

... is actually a modified Creed 7 teleprinter adapted to take 5 bit parallel rather than serial data.

Grumble grumble. People that can't tell their Creeds from their Fridens :-)


Virtual Nazi-code-cracking Colossus in fundraising appeal


If you "pop along" now you won't be able to see Colossus as it is enclosed in a protective box while the building work goes on around it. The rest of TNMOC is open as normal.

Bletchley Park to restore 112-byte* '50s Brit nuke computer

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CSIRAC, running ?

" When a first generation computer is already running in Australia.. http://museumvictoria.com.au/csirac/"

According to Wikipedia "The machine finally found a permanent home in the Melbourne Museum in 2000. It has not been operable since its shutdown, but many of the programs that ran on it have been preserved, and an emulator has been written for it. "

No mention of it working on the museum web site either....



Decatrons are valves and they are gas filled.

The glow is around the Anode not the Cathode.

While the only thing they can do is to count, they do hold state equiv. to 3.3 bits. The state can be examined by applying 10 count pulses an watching for the carry output. So if the 7th anode is glowing the carry will come after three pulses. After the carry has pulsed, start pulsing the decatron in the adder until all 10 pulses have been applied. The adder will have moved on 7 positions and may have generated a carry. This is roughly the way the Witch adds decimal numbers together.


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