[SIGCIS-Members] Fwd: CCS News - 2016 Tony Sale Award winner

Schmudde d at schmud.de
Sun Nov 20 15:48:22 PST 2016

All -

I was at the HNF in early 2015 for research. The staff and the space are
both fantastic.

This exhibit wasn't running at that time, but it looks to be part of
their life-sized ENIAC "model." They have enough floor space set aside
so a visitor can walk inside the machine as one might have in the 1940s.
Although there are very few artifacts or interactive panels, it does
help one appreciate the actual magnitude of the computer.

I assume this reconstruction helps fill out the rest of the picture.

To directly address Mark's question, RE: exhibiting the essence machine
programming, I felt that many of the HNF exhibits focused on tackling
the encoding of information through history - ancient record keeping,
Morse code, Jacquard loom - which leads up to the ENIAC installation.
That's likely the through line here. I like the thought of conveying
more abstract concepts like conditional branching and functional


On 11/18/16 11:36 AM, members-request at lists.sigcis.org wrote:
> Date: Fri, 18 Nov 2016 16:36:12 +0000
> From: Mark Priestley <m.priestley at gmail.com>
> To: Sigcis <members at sigcis.org>
> Subject: Re: [SIGCIS-Members] Fwd: CCS News - 2016 Tony Sale Award
> 	winner
> Message-ID:
> 	<CAHWAic2n0bpEqicTrpUFibXQM3RWumDZ6zHWn0HA4AJrwG0Cqw at mail.gmail.com>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"
> Hello list,
> That looks like a nice exhibit, but I must admit that the video leaves me
> wondering just what insight it gives into programming ENIAC, as opposed to
> operating it. It looks like the demonstrator is setting up operations on
> the exhibit one at a time, and then executing them by hand. Actual ENIAC
> usage, of course, involved setting up a whole series of instructions at
> once (including loops, conditional branches etc) and then letting them
> execute automatically.
> ENIAC "programmers" - more properly, perhaps, the machine's developers, the
> scientists who used it, and the operators who helped them - used a variety
> of graphical notations to plan these set-ups. An simple example is at
> http://markpriestley.net/akg.pdf - this diagram shows exactly how to set
> the switches and plug the wires to calculate n, n^2 and n^3, stopping
> before an overflow happens. Even with a simulator, this is quite hard to
> follow ...
> The same goes for other reconstructions, in my experience. For example,
> watching the Colossus rebuild working at Bletchley Park is a wonderful
> experience, but gives little insight into many aspects of what the machine
> was doing, or what it was capable of. Does anyone know of museum exhibits
> that successfully convey something about programming, or it is just too
> abstract an activity?
> Cheers,
> Mark

w: http://schmud.de
t: @dschmudde
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e: d at schmud.de

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