Jim Stewart wrote:
> I disagree. I installed a fully functional 8-user timeshare system
> on a PDP 8 with 12k words of memory back in 1972. The early
> Unix and Decsystem 10's were amazingly efficient for the resources
> available then.
I don't know the relative performance of a PDP 8 or GE system, but I
can't help but wonder that a computer of 1972 was much more powerful
than of 1962 given the massive progress in electronics.
Also, I'm not sure if the PDP 8 could do batch processing--handling
high volumes of punched cards, mag tapes, high speed printing, at the
same time it was handling time sharing. Handling both batch and on-
line was a desired quality but not always possible.
Also, I believe the simultaneous GE users numbered about 30 or more
(judging by the size of the rooms they showed) as opposed to 8.
> I've always been amazed that not a single science fiction writer *got*
> the internet. All of the SF saw the future as monolithic central
The "Internet" is a network of networks, far more sophisticated than
In the early 1960s, it was considered quite amazing to dial into a
computer and have it run BASIC programs or look up stuff from a data
file. The interface in those days was quite slow--10-15 characters
per second on a simple typewriter, and of course it was all by very
curt command prompts. If you were accessing a data base computer, you
would type in a single command followed by coded search arguments
carefully coded, e.g. SEATBL1JDSX4355. If any of the arguments were
wrong you back back a bland "INVALID COMMAND" message and had to
figure it out for yourself. That's all computers in the early 1960s
had the storage and speed to support, very bare bones.
Accordingly, it was above and beyond to expect computers to take to
each other with variable content in a conversational way in those
Gradually interfaces got more sophisticated. CRT screens with some
formats came out. More links between computers were established. But
this came in the 1970s and evolved gradually.
Real Time service was much more expensive than batch. One needed much
more memory, CPU speed, and disk space than for batch and all of that
stuff was still extremely expensive. The programming was
sophisticated, much more complex than batch.
Per the history book "Computer" a good deal of Federal money funneled
through Defense Department grants allowed that to evolve for direct
and indirect military projects.
Ironically, in those days, such funding was considered evil and
students pressured their schools to reject any and all of it. This
kind of thing was probably under the protestor's radar. But the fact
remains that defense spending helped a great deal to build the
Internet. (And also helped a great deal to develop electronic
computers much faster than otherwise from commercial needs alone.) I
find this ironic in that a number of today's Internet users are
passionate peace protestors and their very medium was paid for by the