Author Topic: if any computer was send back to 1960,how it would effect computer evolution?  (Read 4708 times)

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Online Kjelt

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Object orientation didn't exist.
what a blessed time that was  :)
 

Offline vk6zgo

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They wouldn’t know what to do with the hardware other than break it.
It would be more useful in the hands of an educational institution (with software) to use as a supercomputer for research.

People in the 1960s weren't stupid!
The reason things weren't done was that the technology hadn't developed to make things which EEs could already imagine.
Development of specialist devices & techniques requires a market for such technology.

It would be difficult, but not impossible to reverse engineer the thing hardware wise, there were quite sophisticated development labs in that decade.

The first thing they would do is try to make it work, not "tear it down".
All you really have to do with a computer is find the  "on" button, then, if it has the correct OS,it will start up.

OK, it comes up with a start screen, they could determine roughly how the screen worked, put further work on that in the "to do" box, then try to make it actually do something.

If kids of two or three can make a computer work, do you really think a 40 year old PHD wouldn't be able to do so.

If it was a laptop, they would no doubt be horrified by the incredibly flimsy mechanical design.
Materials scientists would be depressed by the lack of progress in the strength of plastic materials.
 

Offline @rt

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I didn’t say they were stupid. In the later tube era, they wouldn’t know what to do with the hardware other than break it (in the sense or reproducing it).
Even if all chips were decapped perfectly, that doesn’t help their non-existent fabrication process any, even though by the 60’s there are certainly people thinking a lot about semiconductor technology.

So as I said, better in the hands of an educational institution that will use the computer.
 
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Offline LaserSteve

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All fine and dandy to propose all this. But where are you going to get a good lathe and a good milling machine?  Yes, I've seen the incredible hand crafted rifles and shotguns  in the armour court  at the Cleveland Museum of art, but without mills, lathes, vacuum pumps  and glass to metal seals, Pyrex and fused silica , you'd spend 20-30 years just tooling up.
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Offline particleman

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We would have bypassed an era with quality made products and "advanced" into plastic crap. Glad that didn't happen I like my through hole oscilloscopes and audio gear.
 

Offline CatalinaWOW

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All fine and dandy to propose all this. But where are you going to get a good lathe and a good milling machine?  Yes, I've seen the incredible hand crafted rifles and shotguns  in the armour court  at the Cleveland Museum of art, but without mills, lathes, vacuum pumps  and glass to metal seals, Pyrex and fused silica , you'd spend 20-30 years just tooling up.

While I personally think that computers in the de Vinci era would have been so confounding as to attract no interest, 20-30 years to tool up would still put us in the computer age 100s of years earlier.  Even if you throw in a century to electrify and industrialize a continent.  Same thing would apply to Roman era.  And in spite of the slave based economy they would be interested based on the weapons and ground transportation possibilities identified in the encyclopedias you would include.  Weapons and transport are the life blood of empire.
 

Offline SeanB

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Probably the biggest thing to improve the Roman era, aside from teaching them Byzantine mats, would be the single item that made the modern world possible, the blast furnace. While the Romans had the ability to make reasonable wrought iron, the ability to make low cost steel in volume would have been a big change. Just that you took a 15m tall column of burning carbon ( coal likely, but they used a lot of wood there in charcoal) with iron ore, silicon and limestone as flux, and blow air through it from the bottom, while feeding in new fine ground material at the top, and tap the molten steel off along with the slag at the base. At that time steel was a very hit or miss affair, passed down from craftsman to apprentice, and with almost no knowledge of the steps that were actually useful to convert basic wrought iron from a bloomery, basically high carbon steel with large amounts of impurities, into a lower carbon steel that was capable of holding an edge, and which could be hardened to a brittle exterior with a ductile interior, that did not shatter like wrought iron.
 

Offline Towger

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Easy to reproduce with the right knowledge - Penicillin: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penicillin
 

Offline LaserSteve

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Drop a  PC onto Newton's or Heavyside's or  Lord Rayleigh's desk....  Now that I'd pay to see...
~
Go to 1939-1940
Really just drop a case of Helium Neon laser tubes with a text on how to coat the dielectric mirrors onto a desk at the Tizzard Mission, Radlab, Bell Labs, NCR, Berkely, Delco, MIT,  NRL, or Tuxedo park.

 Its something they could almost make, can be powered by technology prevalent at the time, and gives you an unbeatable measurement standard and diagnostic tool in  surveying, construction,  physics, chemistry, bio, ME and EE... Truly a device that changed the world nearly as much as the transistor.  Or just teach the chemists to make a simple, easy to build atmospheric pressure Nitrogen laser in the near uV..  Impact not as big, but lasers revolutionized chemistry.

Steve
« Last Edit: August 17, 2018, 06:27:48 pm by LaserSteve »
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Offline TerraHertz

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I'd rather let's say it was possible to go back to around 200BC, and speak with whoever manufactured the Antikythera Mechanism.

Then teach those guys how to also make iron (and machine guns), and a quick course in memetics, cognitive bias, scientific method, making long-lasting documents, and how to structure a society to be both stable and able to defend itself against being overrun by psychopaths from inside and barbarians from outside (oh wait, apparently we don't know how to do that) so hopefully that level of technology wasn't lost to history for over a thousand years.

Failing that, I think the point for the biggest possible improvement to present computing science, would be to drop about a 20 page document on the desk of the group defining the ASCII standard in early 1960s. Listing all the critical information organizational concepts that present ASCII fails to include. And which result in a vast cascade of horrible workarounds and failings through the entire field of CompSci, that few even see because they are so used to 'the way things are'.




http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap110109.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antikythera_mechanism
http://www.antikythera-mechanism.gr/
/watch?v=RLPVCJjTNgk
http://www.world-mysteries.com/sar_4.htm        Part 1
http://www.world-mysteries.com/sar_4_2.htm      Part 2
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Offline vk6zgo

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This thread has split into two, really.
(1) Dropping a modern computer into1960 or so.
&
(2) Doing something broadly similar to Ancient Rome or other civilisations of roughly that era.

With (1), younger people continuously underestimate the capabilities of mid 20th Century Science &
Technology, with comments like "They would "break it" trying to tear it down."
I believe it is much more likely, investigation would proceed very cautiously, exhausting all that could be found out externally, before trying to open up device packages.

If nothing else, it would give people ideas which could perhaps be implemented with existing technology,
& point them in useful directions.
They would be unlikely to attempt to duplicate the actual device.

(2) In my opinion, the best thing to introduce to the Ancient world would be a Montgolfier type hot air balloon, as this would be well within the capabilities of their technology.
 

Offline Mr. Scram

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@richard.cs,
OTOH a pulsejet aero-engine should be well within the capabilities of Roman era ironworkers.  The most difficult part to make would probably be the fuel injector, as the fuel pump (windmill driven) could be made of brass.  It probably wouldn't have enough thrust to get off the ground so would need a catapult launch system.
I don't think Roman metallurgy would suit a typically hot running pulse jet engine design. We have to remember that the Germans in WWII had trouble building long lasting jet engines because they lacked alloys resilient enough to stand the heat. Brits sidestepped the problem by using a less efficient motor design. We see the same issue throughout history. Steam engines only became more powerful after better alloys were developed. They knew how to increase power output, but the metals at the time wouldn't allow it.

It seems the progress of technology is much more a collection of advances making other advances possible, throwing a spanner in the works of sending a modern computer into the past.
 

Online Ian.M

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Pulse jets run at a very low compression ratio so the casing isn't heavily stressed, and of course there are no high stress rotating parts.    That was why WWII Germany could mass produce them out of mild steel sheet  although, as you point out they had little success with rotary jet engines.   

Early WW1 era aero engines typically had service intervals for full overhaul as low as 10 to 20 hours.  It wouldn't be *that* hard to develop a pulse jet design capable of running for 10 hours, with a replaceable combustion chamber.

A bigger concern would be vibration - which with no good metal springs or elastomers other than animal sinew, would be difficult to handle in a light weight airframe.   I suppose its possible one could develop a rubber industry as there are some rubber latex producing plants native to Africa and India (see http://www.faculty.ucr.edu/~legneref/botany/rubber.htm) but unless one's time-travelling engineer got very lucky + had access to a lot of specialist reference books, the odds of success in a reasonable timespan are poor.  OTOH developing the 'rubber' prophylactic would probably be a good path to sufficient wealth and influence to be able to proceed with other engineering projects.
 

Offline Mr. Scram

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Pulse jets run at a very low compression ratio so the casing isn't heavily stressed, and of course there are no high stress rotating parts.    That was why WWII Germany could mass produce them out of mild steel sheet  although, as you point out they had little success with rotary jet engines.   

Early WW1 era aero engines typically had service intervals for full overhaul as low as 10 to 20 hours.  It wouldn't be *that* hard to develop a pulse jet design capable of running for 10 hours, with a replaceable combustion chamber.

A bigger concern would be vibration - which with no good metal springs or elastomers other than animal sinew, would be difficult to handle in a light weight airframe.   I suppose its possible one could develop a rubber industry as there are some rubber latex producing plants native to Africa and India (see http://www.faculty.ucr.edu/~legneref/botany/rubber.htm) but unless one's time-travelling engineer got very lucky + had access to a lot of specialist reference books, the odds of success in a reasonable timespan are poor.  OTOH developing the 'rubber' prophylactic would probably be a good path to sufficient wealth and influence to be able to proceed with other engineering projects.
I see more issues with the heat pulse jet engines tend to produce than the stress.
 

Offline CatalinaWOW

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Back to the 1960 branch, maybe the biggest impact would be the even quicker demise of the second tier big iron computing companies.  Burroughs, Sperry and the like.  And maybe Cray would never have happened.
 

Offline richard.cs

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I don't think Roman metallurgy would suit a typically hot running pulse jet engine design. We have to remember that the Germans in WWII had trouble building long lasting jet engines because they lacked alloys resilient enough to stand the heat.
I had assumed here a valveless design, which at the end of the day is just a cleverly shaped hollow structure. It could be constructed from riveted iron plate and I would not expect it to have a significantly shorter life than one of the modern amateur designs made from mild steel (a few tens of hours?) though it would almost certainly be heavier. Based on the videos I have seen of them operating a surface temperature of 600-800 C seems pretty normal.

Using animal sinew to suspend it in the airframe seems a reasonable technique, obviously with some intermediate part to protect it from the heat.
 

Online Ian.M

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The problem with animal sinew is its elasticity and length vary dramatically with ambient humidity.   Treating the sinews with Glycerene could help control that, otherwise shrinkage due to IR radiation from the engine drying the sinew could rip the airframe apart.

The Romans has a sizeable Asbestos cloth industry, so thermally isolated mounts of riveted sandwich construction with an inner metal plate wrapped in asbestos cloth between two outer plates  would be reasonably practical.    Lightweight thermal IR shielding would be a lot harder - there's no aluminium foil covered rockwool till you've got a 20th century equivalent tech base.   Maybe gold leaf adhered to layered asbestos cloth using waterglass?

Probably the easiest option would be riveted on lugs for chains or rods to get the mounts out of the zone where IR radiation would char any organics, then protect the sinews with asbestos cloth sleeves.
« Last Edit: August 20, 2018, 11:21:52 am by Ian.M »
 

Offline edy

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Reminds me of this movie (The Last Mimzy). Anyone else see it? The video below shows some clips from the movie (among the nanotech narration) but if you ever see the movie from start to finish, it's pretty strange. And without spoiling too much more, it probably gives a reasonable reaction to how scientists from 1960 would react to stuff sent to them from today... The change in scale, miniaturization and integration of IC's probably is on the same scale over the past 50 years as what you see in The Last Mimzy future to our time.

« Last Edit: August 20, 2018, 11:59:49 pm by edy »
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Offline BrianHG

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EVERYBODY has ignored 'Where is the money?'.  Having sent back all the technical manuals, engineering docs, sample ICs & complete computers by the boatloads.  Who on Earth will pay for building all the infrastructure to manufacture and build everything from the plastics, high density circuit boards, IC, testing, hard drives, just the damn hard drive heads alone down to the size and spacing counted in atoms.  The super clean rooms.  What stores will buy such super expensive equipment to begin with.  Who would fund home computers at a time when IBM says only a few would be needed on earth.  No one in their right mind could even invest in everything just to make 1 PC, even the US military.  And if the US military decided to do so, each PC would cost would approach the 100 million dollar mark at least just to deal with all the setup and decades of testing to get the first CPU and ram off the shelf.  You must gear up big from stage 1 and build chips in the millions to get the price down per CPU and ram chip.

The fact of the matter is that our technology progression isn't delayed by our knowledge on how to build the IC, but, more every sector of the technology aligning together as the market for the IC comes into existence and magnitudes of profit can be properly realized to get the engineering done.  So I say, we are advancing as fast as economics will allow and that sending everything back to 1960 wouldn't change a thing other than someone reading the documents and carefully timing patents just ahead of the advancements in available infrastructure and if smart, making a mint if done right.
« Last Edit: August 21, 2018, 01:21:33 am by BrianHG »
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Offline CatalinaWOW

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EVERYBODY has ignored 'Where is the money?'.  Having sent back all the technical manuals, engineering docs, sample ICs & complete computers by the boatloads.  Who on Earth will pay for building all the infrastructure to manufacture and build everything from the plastics, high density circuit boards, IC, testing, hard drives, just the damn hard drive heads alone down to the size and spacing counted in atoms.  The super clean rooms.  What stores will buy such super expensive equipment to begin with.  Who would fund home computers at a time when IBM says only a few would be needed on earth.  No one in their right mind could even invest in everything just to make 1 PC, even the US military.  And if the US military decided to do so, each PC would cost would approach the 100 million dollar mark at least just to deal with all the setup and decades of testing to get the first CPU and ram off the shelf.  You must gear up big from stage 1 and build chips in the millions to get the price down per CPU and ram chip.

The fact of the matter is that our technology progression isn't delayed by our knowledge on how to build the IC, but, more every sector of the technology aligning together as the market for the IC comes into existence and magnitudes of profit can be properly realized to get the engineering done.  So I say, we are advancing as fast as economics will allow and that sending everything back to 1960 wouldn't change a thing other than someone reading the documents and carefully timing patents just ahead of the advancements in available infrastructure and if smart, making a mint if done right.

Completely right and wrong at the same time   Having all the answers laid out ahead of time changes the economics.  Eliminates blind alleys and eliminates the risk of investment.  The patent question is interesting.  The documentations existence could be interpreted as existing prior art and eliminate all described patents.  Which would be a negative change in the economics which would slow development.
 

Offline borjam

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Object orientation didn't exist.
what a blessed time that was  :)
Indeed!

Object orientation is briliant as an intellectual achievement, but it brings serious problems of its own.
 

Online Kjelt

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Reminds me of this movie (The Last Mimzy). Anyone else see it?
Nope but it is on my watchlist now, thanks  :)
 

Offline BrianHG

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Completely right and wrong at the same time   Having all the answers laid out ahead of time changes the economics.  Eliminates blind alleys and eliminates the risk of investment.
I would have to disagree here.  You may eliminate a ton of hidden risks, however, you need customers for this stuff.  And, in the 60's, like my parents in the 80s, computer are idiot boxes and not worth buying or using for anything.  Do you know how long it took a larger community or artists who use the computer to do art just have their work accepted as art.

You may knock us a few years ahead, but, nothing like 40 to 70 years as one could dream.
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Offline Brumby

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There is also the distinct possibility that by sending back "advanced" technology that you will actually slow down technological development.

Visions of what is "over the horizon" will detract from seeing where the stepping stones need to be placed in order to get there.  It is not inconceivable that someone will plot a direct course to the objective, only to encounter difficulties that they want to push through instead of abandoning them for a more circuitous route that will prove successful.  Not to mention all the "incidental" discoveries along the way that subsequently proved to be valuable in their own right.
 

Offline BrianHG

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......... Not to mention all the "incidental" discoveries along the way that subsequently proved to be valuable in their own right.
How right you are!  I have completely missed that one...
Something I should have noticed as I am a specialty troubleshooter and usually am contracted to come in after the fact and clean up other engineer's problems up and explain what they've done wrong.
« Last Edit: August 22, 2018, 05:08:32 am by BrianHG »
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