Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Times They Are A Changing.

Clock, Pocket Watch, Movement, Horology, Old  Since its the last week of school, I've been showing that great movie Hidden Figures.  I love it because its about three women who were involved in the NASA space program at a time when women, especially African American women, were treated as second and third class citizens.

It is fascinating watching  one of the women train herself to program in Fortran before the computer is up and running.  The mainframe they used is so much slower than today's processors on a cell phone and it used punch cards.  According to someone I know who started working with computers in 1969, the instructions are punched so each card has one line of code.  A whole program could take a couple of boxes.  If you dropped the box, you'd have to check all the code and hope to get them in the same order.

Now we can just type the code in on a screen and voila we are off.  I play with code on my iPad on a regular basis and its so much better because many of the compilers and interpreters automatically give you hints on where the mistake is.  You don't have to spend as many hours debugging as they did them.

Even our calculators have changed.  They used those big mechanical adding machines back then.  I'd never seen one but the person who told me about punch cards said his father (an engineer) had one in his home office.  Now a cheap hand held calculator can do as much or more than those machines.

There was one scene where the lady went to find a book with a certain formula on it?  Today, we'd just power up our cell phones, connect to the internet and find the same equation rather than thumbing through a ton of books.

Our one small cell phone can do so much more than the original mechanical computers, adding machines, and libraries.  All of this and more in a small container.  Yes, things have changed and continue to change so fast.  Faster than most of us can keep up. 

Let me know what you think.  If I think about it too hard, I get awed, so I just accept.

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