When Computer Dating Was Mail Order

A couple promoting the Harvard University-based dating service Operation Match.

Atlantic blogger John Hendel reports on the phenomenon of computer dating in the 1960s. These services operated by comparing questionnaires that would-be romancers submitted by mail, returning a list of potential matches some days or weeks later (in a similar fashion to job-matching systems of the era).

Watson and AI: Does Mind Matter?

The upcoming televised matches between IBM's Watson and Jeopardy champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter seems like a good time to reflect on the history of Artificial Intelligence (AI) as a field.

A Tribute to Ken Olsen

Paul Ceruzzi has pointed the mailing list to this video, commemorating the life of Digital Equipment founder Ken Olsen, who died on Sunday. (See also the discussion onSlashdot and the New York Times obituary).

King Knuth

The latest discussion on the SIGCIS mailing list surrounded the impending release of a new volume (or sub-volume, rather) in Donald Knuth's computer science masterwork, The Art of Computer Programming. Volume 4A is now in print from Addison-Wesley. Paul Ceruzzi announced this development earlier today:

Unknown Knowns

An interesting piece from Ars Technica last month described the divergence between the set of plant species that have been collected by botanists and the set of plant species that have been cataloged into the set of known species.

Hardware De-constructed and Re-constructed

A group of engineers have done emulation one better. In a a fantastic piece of reverse engineering, they have re-constructed a full-on software simulation of the MOS Technology 6502 microprocessor, the heart of the Apple, Apple II, Commodore PET, and a number of other early microcomputers and video game consoles.

The Magical Shrinking Cubicle

Just a quick one-off link this time. Given the growing interest I sense in the community in the labor history of computing (see, for example, the recent IEEE Annals issue dedicated to the subject), I thought people might be interested in a recent story from the L.A. Times.

Useful Sites on Contemporary Computing

One of my colleagues suggested that a good use of this blog would be to inform those of our members who might not be aware of some the good places to find up-to-date information the latest goings-on in computing.

Here are a few annotated suggestions (as with most of my posts, with a strong American bias. I welcome proposed additions from other parts of the world):

    The Value (and Risks) of Emulation

    Courtesy of Evan Koblentz' recent mailing list message, behold this ancient analog computing device, Lego-style. The contrast between this device and the older reconstruction of the Babbage Difference Engine is illuminating. The latter aimed to be as faithful as possible to the original in terms of materials and design, in order to prove the viability of the machine within its original historical context.

    Game Internals

    I recently came across a brand new blog that may be of interest to SIGCISers, Game Internals, by programmer Chad Birch. His first post describes the algorithm used to control the ghosts in Pac-Man (including an interesting bug). Along with the "Pac-Man Dossier" that he links to, it would be a great primary source for a study of the history of video game software. Hopefully Birch will keep the interesting material coming.

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