You are Bad at Entropy.

Presenting a very old game, entitled: Man vs. Machine. Or, why Man is not a Particularly Good Source of Entropy.

A Country of Which Nothing is Known but the Name.

If you came here via a search engine, you were probably looking for Pierre Cartier’s wonderful mini-biography of the mathematician Alexander Grothendieck – from which I shamelessly stole the title. Please go straight there. Otherwise…

“And so no one, except for two people, enters the top floor of the Aedificium. …”
The abbot smiled. “No one should. [...]

RIP Douglas Engelbart.

Douglas Engelbart – perhaps the last of the great American inventors – is dead. The newspapers are keen to remind everyone that Engelbart invented the computer mouse, but they are largely silent on the matter of his having personally created almost every one of the concepts we think of as part of the standard [...]

MicroWriter Redux.

I have decided to publish some of my “archaeological” work from last year on Cy Endfield’s MicroWriter.  The original objective was to produce a cycle-accurate emulator.  I do not currently have the free time to complete this project, so I will post my results here for anyone who might care to pick up the torch. [...]

Why Hypercard Had to Die

Update: Click here if you would like to try HyperCard yourself.
I was a Hypercard child – though our friendship was brief.
Our seventh-grade class was led into a room full of brand-new Macintosh Performas.  The day’s lesson was a crash course in the use of an uncomplicated yet marvelous program. With it, one [...]

The Five Types of Technological Standard

Technological standards may be usefully divided into five basic types:

4 – Standards arrived at by consensus.
Examples: Common Lisp.
3 – Standards imposed by dictatorial fiat.
Examples: Russian railroad gauge.
2 – Standards imposed through sudden, overwhelming, and indisputable technological supremacy over the previous state of the art.
Examples: Arabic numerals.  Sildenafil.
1 – Standards which inescapably [...]

Tim Daly on Symbolics Lisp Machines

Tim Daly on Symbolics and the elimination of the Compile-Pray-Debug Cycle:

“The Symbolics machine (its kittens all the way down…) gave me the insight that one of the most important parts of programming is the time it takes to “close the loop”. Start from the point of failure, find the failure in source code, fix the [...]

Posted in: Lisp, NonLoper, SoftwareArchaeology, Symbolics by Stanislav 1 Comment

Symbolics Open Genera

Better screen shots from other people:
Ralf Moeller
Rainer Joswig

The Naming of Names

Perhaps you once took a university course in Operating Systems.  Or you think you did.
In reality, the course catalog ought to have read: “Dark Age Software Archaeology: A UNIX Case Study.“
But do we still call it archaeology if people are still building pyramids? Moreover, if architects continue to push the pyramid as the pinnacle of [...]

Posted in: Hot Air, NonLoper, SoftwareArchaeology by Stanislav 12 Comments

Secrets of the Symbolics Console: Part 2

Let’s take another look at the console. There are several boards inside, but this is the only one which deals in custom Symbolics protocols (as opposed to the widely-known intricacies of operating a black-and-white CRT.)

The rough annotations are my own. Click on the pictures for super-size (~10MB!) images.
Once again, the Phase Encoded Video decoder board:

A: [...]