male at glowing keyboard - Credit: Andrij Borys Associates, Shutterstock

When Hackers Were Heroes

What was exceptional about MIT was not that it had a computer or that unkempt programmers were devising impressive tricks. It was that MIT had enough computers that a couple of surplus machines could be left out for members of the community to play with.

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Cover - Electronic Life by Michael Crichton

Electronic Life: How to Think About Computers

Electronic Life was created as a layman’s guide to computers. It explained simply, concisely and without jargon what computers really are, how to choose them, how to use them, how to think about them, how to live with them, how to get them to help you, how to keep them in their place, how to enjoy them. It described step-by-step instructions on what to do when you first approach a new computer to sound advice on how to stop your computer from causing trouble in the family. His message: Don’t be afraid of them, they’re only machines, they’re here to make your life easier, and, what’s more, they can be a lot of fun.

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Ray Holt - Photograph: William Widmer

The Secret History of the First Microprocessor, the F-14, and Me

This is the story, then, of how another first microprocessor, a secret one, came to be—and of my own entwinement with it. The device was designed by a team at a company called Garrett AiResearch on a subcontract for Grumman, the aircraft manufacturer. It was larger, it was a combination of six chips, and it performed crucial functions for the F-14 Tomcat fighter jet, which celebrates the 50th anniversary of its first flight this week.

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