syslog
15Mar/120

Turing’s Cathedral

Jon Crowcroft@srg.cl $

Am about 1/3 the way through the new excellent book by George Dyson, on the history of computing - its a bit revisionist, but it is very detailed and interesting. One thing he glosses over is how Cathode Ray Tubes are used for Random Access Memory in the early work in Princeton (and in the UK by Kilburn et al) - I never stopped to think, but how do you readback from a cathode ray tube? The answer is obvious, and its interesting that the ideas of DRAM (with strobing, refresh, and destructive writes) all just re-echo this weird choice of technology which was just lying around (lots of radar screens going begging at the end of the 2nd world war), and was so much easier than building a lot of RAM out of Valves/Tubes, which would have required an insane interconnect (and been very much slower too)....

local luminaries (Wilkes and Wheeler) get quotes (not just namechecked) so its not such a landgrab as I had thought from reading reviews....and he's really captured the excitement, plus it goes on to look at the wider vision, which is really impressive...

available from an eBookstore near you right now... ... ...

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