A look at the people who are driving the personal computer industry.

Guests: Gary Kildall, Digital Research; Steve Wozniak, Apple; Adam Osborne, Osborne Computer; Lore Harp, Vector Graphic; Gene Amdahl, Trilogy Systems. Originally broadcast in 1984.

What will we do with computers in the future?

Steve Wozniak, claims he built the Apple 1 and gave it to a teacher in the days before computers were ever heard of. Diane Ravitch, Director Encyclopaedia Britannica discusses the classroom potential, it requires a user, not a watcher. Alan Kay, Apple Fellow, discusses computer simulations. These models are our voodoo dolls. Simulation is what the computer is all about. Ray Bradbury, Author, describes how life is wonderful and we need to teach our kids this.

There is a futuristic demonstration of an imaginary Apple product that looks like a plastic Rolodex. A little child is showing how to use this product to his teacher. The child then gives a PowerPoint style presentation to a middle-school class. Agents and Databases- Students can watch, interact and revisit key lesson activities. Collaborate with a friend.

Computers could be used for adult learning and literacy because the computer is not threatening. An actor then opens a futuristic book style tablet computer and is learning to read. Once the actor has finished his lesson he circles a sports article and then scans it into the fold-out tablet.

Alvin Toffler, Author, describes how voice interaction is the future of computing. The keyboard is a primitive way of interacting and getting information into the machine. Almost as important to Alvin is the capability of computers to do automatic translation, even if that translation is not 100% perfect.

Visualization - The super computers of today will be the desktop computers of tomorrow. There are two kinds of things you can do with more computing power. You can do more of what you are doing now faster. And there are occasionally things are unthinkable to do now. Another demonstration of the little track-master thingy connected to a presentation display.

Hypermedia - The ideas and possibilities of hypermedia have been around for a long time. A futuristic demonstration of engineering and design are again shown using voice interaction. A new demonstration of dinosaur games in action. Why do I love dinosaurs so much? We are all doing the same work but we are doing it in different ways.

Chromosaurus Animation courtesy Pacific Data Images
Mt Shasta Animation courtesy JPL
Gas Jet Visualization courtesy NCSA

An early look at the Apple Macintosh computer, software, and accessories during the first MacWorld Exposition in San Francisco.

Paul Schindler gives a bad review of the Mac. I can agree with since the Apple IIGS was a far superior machine.

Here’s the fifth and final episode of The Machine That Changed the World, this one focusing on global information networks including the Internet, and the communication benefits and privacy risks they create. This is the most familiar material of the documentary, so I’m going to skip the notes and annotations this time. I hope you enjoyed the documentary as much as I did.


Robert Lucky (AT&T Bell Labs), Dave Hughes, Kathleen Bonner (Trader, Fidelity), George Hayter (Former Head of Trading, London Stock Exchange), Ben Bagdikian (UC Berkeley), Arthur Miller (Harvard Law School), Forman Brown (songwriter, died in 1996), Tan Chin Nam (Chairman, National Computer Board of Singapore), B.G. Lee (Minister of Trade and Industry, Singapore), Lee Fook Wah, (Assistant Traffic Manager, MRT Singapore), David Assouline (French Activist, now a senator), Mitch Kapor (founder, Lotus), Michael Drennan (Air traffic controller, Dallas-Fort Worth)

The fourth episode of The Machine That Changed the World covers the history of artificial intelligence and the challenges that come from trying to teach computers to think and learn like us.


Marvin Minsky (MIT), Hubert Dreyfus (UC Berkeley), Edward Feigenbaum (Stanford University), Hans Moravec (Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute), Doug Lenat (University of Texas, Austin), Dean Pomerleau (Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute), Terrence Sejnowski (Salk Institute)

The third episode of The Machine That Changed the World covers the development of the personal computer and the modern graphical user interface, which made computing easy to use for everyone. Highlights include interviews with Apple’s Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, drawing with a computer in 1963, great footage from Xerox PARC, and some 1992-era predictions of the future from Apple and others.


Like the books of the Middle Ages, early computers were large, extremely expensive, and maintained by a select few. It seemed unlikely they’d be commonplace, partly because they were so difficult to use. Developing software was extremely tedious, the interface limited to writing instructions on punched cards. Ivan Sutherland’s revolutionary Sketchpad was the first graphical user interface, pioneering the fields of interactive computing, computer-aided drawing, and object-oriented programming. Douglas Engelbart‘s NLS, demonstrated in the Mother of All Demos from 1968, demonstrated for the first time several concepts that would become commonplace: the mouse, CRT display, windowing systems, hypertext, videoconferencing, collaborative editing, screen sharing, word processing, and a search engine ordering by relevance. Xerox, realizing computers might lead to paperless communication, created the PARC research laboratory to make computers easy to use. They unified several concepts into a usable computer environment, the Xerox Alto, inventing the modern GUI paradigm of folders, files, and documents, along with Ethernet, Smalltalk, WYSIWIG editing, and the laser printer. Xerox marketed the Xerox Star, but it was expensive and a commercial failure.

In 1971, the invention of the microprocessor led to affordable computer kits like the Altair 8800. Groups of computer hobbyists like the Homebrew Computer Club led to a cottage industry of hardware and software startups, including the founders of Apple Computer. Their Apple I in 1976 and the Apple II in 1977 were huge hits. The success of the personal computer, including the Commodore PET, Atari 400/800, and TRS-80, inspired IBM to enter the market with the PC in 1981. They soon dominated the industry. Inspired by the work at Xerox PARC, Apple responded with the Macintosh, the first successful mass-produced computer with a mouse and GUI.

Software enabled computers to become diverse machines, able to be used for business use, flight simulators, music, illustration, or anything else that could be imagined. Pure software companies like Lotus and Microsoft became tremendously successful, making their founders and early employees very rich. Those using computers required no knowledge of how it worked, including an entire generation raised on computers as familiar objects. The episode concludes with some excellent conceptual designs of future computers from Apple, and a discussion of the potential uses of virtual reality in future computing.


Canon John Tiller (Library Master, Hereford Cathedral), Mitch Kapor (Founder, Lotus), Robert Taylor (Xerox PARC), Ted Nelson (Creator, Project Xanadu), Douglas Engelbart, Larry Tesler (Xerox PARC), Alan Kay (Xerox PARC), Ted Hoff (Co-inventor, microprocessor), Steve Jobs (Cofounder, Apple), Steve Wozniak (Cofounder, Apple), Mike Markkula (Investor, Apple), Lee Felsenstein (Designer, Osborne 1), Bill Gates (Chairman, Microsoft), Chris Peters (Manager, Office), Anne Meyer (Center for Applied Special Tech.), Dr. Henry Fuchs (UNC, Chapel Hill), Dr. Jane Richards (UNC, Chapel Hill), Dr. Frederick P. Brooks, Jr (UNC, Chapel Hill)

Synopsis: The rise of commercial computing, from UNIVAC to IBM in the 1950s and 1960s.

Episode Summary:

Shortly after the war ended, ENIAC‘s creators founded the first commercial computer company, the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation in 1946. The early history of the company’s funding and progress is told through interviews and personal home videos. They underestimated the cost and time to build UNIVAC I, their new computer for the US Census Bureau, quickly sending the company into financial trouble. Meanwhile, in London, the J. Lyons and Co. food empire teamed up with the EDSAC developers at Cambridge to build LEO, their own computer to manage inventory and payroll. It was a huge success, inspiring Lyons to start building computers for other companies.

The Eckert-Mauchly company was in trouble, with several high-profile Defense Department contracts withdrawn because of a mistaken belief that John Mauchly had Communist ties. After several attempts to save the company, the company was sold to Remington-Rand in 1950. The company, then focused on electric razors and business machines, gave UNIVAC its television debut by tabulating live returns during the 1952 presidential election. To CBS’s amazement, it accurately predicted an Eisenhower landslide with only 1% of the vote. UNIVAC soon made appearances in movies and cartoons, leading to more business.

IBM was late to enter the computing business, though they’d built the massive SSEC in 1948 for scientific research. When the US Census ordered a UNIVAC, Thomas Watson, Jr. recognized the threat to the tabulating machine business. IBM introduced their first commercial business computers in 1953, the mass-produced IBM 650. While inferior technology, it soon dominated the market with their strong sales force, relative affordability, and integration with existing tabulating machines. In 1956, IBM soared past Remington-Rand to become the largest computer company in the world. By 1960, IBM captured 75% of the US computer market.

But developing software for these systems often cost several times the hardware itself, because programming was so difficult and programmers were hard to find. FORTRAN was one of the first higher-level languages, designed for scientists and mathematicians. It didn’t work well for business use, so COBOL soon followed. This led to wider adoption in different industries, as software was developed that could automate human labor. “Automation” become a serious fear, as humans were afraid they’d lose their jobs to machines. Across the country, companies like Bank of America (with ERMA) were eliminating thousands of tedious tabulating jobs with a single computer, though the country’s prosperity and booming job market tempered some of that fear.

In the ’50s, vacuum tubes were an essential component of the electronics industry, located in every computer, radio, and television. Transistors meant that far more complex computers could be designed, but couldn’t be built because wiring them together was a logistical nightmare. The “tyranny of numbers” was solved in 1959 with the first working integrated circuit, developed and introduced independently by both Texas Instruments and Fairchild. But ICs were virtually ignored until adopted by NASA and the military for use in lunar landers, guided missiles, and jets. Electronics manufacturers soon realized the ability to mass-produce ICs. Within a decade, ICs cost pennies to produce while becoming a thousand times more powerful. The result was the birth of the Silicon Valley and a reborn electronics industry.

This is the episode which the BBC keeps blocking all over the place. Get those web torrents working!

This episode has also been mislabeled "Great Brains."


The first part begins with a brief introduction to the series, summarizing the impact of computers on every aspect of our lives, attributed to their versatile nature. The history of computing begins with the original definition of “computers,” human beings like William Shanks that calculated numbers by hand. Frustration with human error led Charles Babbage to develop his difference engine, the first mechanical computer. He later designed the analytical engine, the first general-purpose programmable computer, but it was never finished. Ada Lovelace assisted Babbage with the design and working out programs for the unbuilt machine, making her the first programmer.

100 years later, German engineer Konrad Zuse built the Z1, the first functional general-purpose computer, using binary counting with mechanical telephone relays. During World War II, Zuse wanted to switch to vacuum tubes, but Hitler killed the project because it would take too long. At the University of Pennsylvania, John Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert built ENIAC, the first general-purpose electronic computer, to aid in military calculations. They didn’t finish in time to be useful for the war, but soon after, Eckert and Mauchly started the first commercial computer company. It took years before they brought a computer to market, so a British radar engineer named Freddie Williams beat them to building the first computer with stored programs. In Cambridge, Maurice Wilkes built EDSAC, the first practical computer with stored programs. Alan Turing imagined greater things for computers beyond calculations, after seeing the Colossus computer break German codes at Bletchley Park. Actor Derek Jacobi, performing as Alan Turing in “Breaking the Code,” elaborates on Turing’s insights into artificial intelligence. Computers can learn, but will they be intelligent?

Hosted and narrated by Spock (Leonard Nimoy) From Season 2, Episode 23. An inquiry into whether the dramatic weather changes in America's northern states mean that a new ice age is approaching.

Personal Note: You will see interview with a Dr. Gifford Miller from the University of Colorado. who is actually still there and still publishing papers.
His University professional page is here:
It seems this guy flip flops on global cooling/warming than a politician flip flops on issues.

Water is the new oil. Once a human right, it's now a valuable commodity, and corporations and super-rich oil dynasties are buying up water rights, controlling nations and populations.

Fired Aired: 3 December 2010

Japan's fifth generation computer project and a look at the next phase of PC platforms. Shot in Japan.

Guests: Gary Kildall, Digital Research; Admiral Bobby Ray Inman, MCC; Ed Feigenbaum, Author; Dr. Hideo Aiso, Keio University; Dr. Yukio Mizuno, NEC; Dr. Hiroshi Kashiwagi, NSP; Dr. Kuzuhiro Fuchi, ICOT; Dr. Tohru Moto-Aka, Univ Tokyo

Products/Demos: KIP System, Pattern Matching, Inference Machine, Prologue

The annual guide to holiday buying for technology products. Stewart Cheifet, Tim Bajarin, Chris Gorman and several technology writers offer up their selections for best new tech products of the season. Included are new web cams, PDAs, and desktop video editors.

A consumer's review of the hottest hardware and software goodies for the techie on your holiday shopping list. Originally broadcast in 1985.

A review of available hardware and software gifts for techies.

Products/Demos: Calendar Creator, HP Financial Consultant, Business Simulator, Muppet Learning Keys Toy Shop, Pen Mouse, Looking Your Best, AmnesiaPC, and Type Right. Originally broadcast in 1986. Guests include George Morrow, Paul Schindler, and Wendy Woods. Stewart Cheifet is host.

Tells the story of the PKWARE/SEA legal battle of the late 1980s and how a fight that broke out over something as simple as data compression resulted in interrupted lives and lost opportunity.

Ray Kurzweil is on a journey to bring his ideas to the world.

The annual holiday buyer's guide for techie products. Gift giving selections for geeks from Gary Kildall, Paul Schindler, Jan Lewis, John Dickinson, Andrew Eisner, and Stewart Cheifet. Hardware and software for the PC and the Mac.

A profile on computer pioneer Gary Kildall and the important contributions he made to the PC industry including the true story on how IBM ended up using MS-DOS rather than CP/M. Kildall developed CP/M, the first personal computer operating system. He was also a co-host on the early Computer Chronicles series. Includes comments by Gordon Eubanks, Symantec; Tom Rolander, DRI; Tim Bajarin, Creative Strategies; Lee Lorenzen, DRI; Jacqui Morby, TA Associates; Alan Cooper, CP/M applications developer.

Neural networks are artificial intelligence systems modeled after the human brain. This program looks at several examples and applications. Included are Braincel 1.1 from Promised Land Technologies, BrainMaker Professional 2.0 from California Scientific Software, MacBrain 3.0 from Neurix, NeuroSMARTS from Cognition Technology, and ExploreNet from HNC. Also includes visits to NASA and Intel to see the work they're doing on neural networks.

Note: This sure is 1991 with the black dude with the "Eraser Head" hair style

A consumer's guide to the most popular low-cost home computers.

Guests: Jack Tramiel, Atari; Leonard Tramiel, Atari; Frank Leonardi, Commodore; Gary Kildall, Digital Research

Products/Demos: Commodore Laptop, Commodore 128, Commodore Amiga, Atari ST 512.

Part two of this special series looking at the causes of the downturn in the computer industry.

Guests: Ben Anixter, AMD; Richard O'Brien, Hewlett Packard; Trip Hawkins, Electronic Arts; John Merson, Ashton-Tate; Gary Kildall, Digital Research

Products/Demos: Commodore Amiga, Atari ST 520

A review of the reasons behind the current slump in the computer business.

Guests: Dave Crockett, Dataquest; Sam Colella, Inst Venture Partners; Deborah Wise, Business Week; Dave Norman, Businessland; Gary Kildall, Digital Research

Personal Note: Not sure why they still call it "Silicon Valley" when no silicon devices have been manufactured there in decades.

The Commodore 64 was the first computer for many families. This program looks at what you can do with the famous C-64. Demonstrations include The Wine Steward, Skate or Die, Strike Fleet, the Koala Pad, Master Composer, Tetris, and Berkeley Software's GEOS. Includes a visit to a Commodore Owners Users Group meeting and an interview with Max Toy, president of Commodore. Originally broadcast in 1988.

The end of the dial-up BBS and its integration into the Internet

Robots are used to deactivate bombs, to do work in outer space, to work on assembly lines, and just for fun. We'll learn how to build a robot at home and discuss the future of robotics. Originally broadcast in November 1999.


The LEGO MindStorms Robotic Invention System enables kids 12 and up to design and program real robots that move, act, and think on their own using RCX, an autonomous LEGO microcomputer that can be programmed using a PC. Kids (and adults) can create everything from a light-sensitive intruder to a robotic rover that can follow a trail, move around obstacles, and even duck into dark corners.

Woodside High School's "Terminator"

"Terminator" is the product of Woodside High's Robotics Team and an entry in the National Robotics Competition, held yearly since 1995. The Robotics Competition is a national engineering contest immersing high school students in the world of engineering by giving them six weeks, to work with engineers to brainstorm, design, construct, and test a working robot. Along with winning the 1999 Western Regional, "Terminator" was named the most defensive robot in the competition for its remarkable ability to grab onto a 130-pound puck, push it to the opponents' side, then rear up and climb on top of the puck. Sony's AIBO. An entertainment robot, AIBO looks like a mechanical dog, has its own emotions and instincts, and walks on four legs like man's best friend. AIBO learns by living and interacting with you, developing its own unique personality unlike that of any other AIBO!

Probotic's Cye.
Cye is a new domestic robot that uses wireless technology to place itself at the beck and call of its owners. Cye is controlled by a graphical user interface called Map-N-Zap that loads onto a PC. With the software, users acquaint the robot with its surroundings by dragging an icon around on the screen. Thus, in turn, Cye is dragged around the room.

SRI International.

SRI International's Artificial Intelligence Center is one of the world's major centers of research in artificial intelligence. Exploring the use of wheeled robots for a variety of Department of Defense missions, SRI shows us Pioneer 2 which features a map making system - building a map as it moves and transferring the data to a computer. SRI also demonstrates Urbie and demonstrates its ability to track and recognize 3D objects such as a person.


Created 5 months ago.

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CategoryScience & Technology