96 episodes

Welcome to Advent of Computing, the show that talks about the shocking, intriguing, and all too often relevant history of computing. A lot of little things we take for granted today have rich stories behind their creation, in each episode we will learn how older tech has lead to our modern world.

Advent of Computing Sean Haas

    • History
    • 4.9 • 38 Ratings

Welcome to Advent of Computing, the show that talks about the shocking, intriguing, and all too often relevant history of computing. A lot of little things we take for granted today have rich stories behind their creation, in each episode we will learn how older tech has lead to our modern world.

    Visi On, the PC GUI

    Visi On, the PC GUI

    More Visi-fun ahead! Today we are looking at Visi On, a visionary user interface developed for home computers. Along the way we will discuss smalltalk, portability, and how the slick graphics over at Xerox were adapted to run on smaller machines.

     

    Selected Sources:
     

    http://toastytech.com/guis/vision.html - Toasty Tech's Visi On page, with screenshots and downloads for emulation
     

    https://archive.org/details/byte-magazine-1983-06/page/n255/mode/2up - A Guided Tour of Visi On
     

    https://archive.org/details/RosettaSmalltalkACM1979/mode/1up - Rosetta Smalltalk

     

    • 1 hr 14 min
    VisiCalc, the Killer App

    VisiCalc, the Killer App

    Today we are looking at VisiCalc, the original killer app. Hitting the market in 1979, VisiCalc was the first computer spreadsheet program. Through it's 6 year lifespan it was ported to everything from the Apple II to the IBM PC to the Apple III. It dominated the market and then... it disappeared.
     

    Selected Sources:
     

    https://conservancy.umn.edu/handle/11299/113026 - Oral History with Bricklin and Frankston
     

    http://www.bricklin.com/history/intro.htm - Bricklin's personal website
     

    https://sci-hub.se/10.1109/MAHC.2007.4338439 - The creation and demise of VisiCalc

    • 1 hr 7 min
    SEAC

    SEAC

    The  Standards Eastern Automatic Computer was built by the National Bureau of Standards in 1948. It started crunching numbers in 1950 and stayed in constant operation until... 1964!  This early machine, festooned with vacuum tubes, lived well past the first transistorized computers. So what exactly is SEAC doing so far into the semiconductor future?
    Selected Sources:
    https://archive.org/details/circularofbureau551unse/page/n7/mode/2up - Circular 551
    https://sci-hub.se/10.1109/85.238389 - EDVAC Draft Report
    https://sci-hub.se/10.1145/1457720.1457763 - Imaging with SEAC

    • 1 hr 9 min
    Aaron Reed Interview, 50 Years of Text Games

    Aaron Reed Interview, 50 Years of Text Games

    In this episode I talk with Aaron Reed, author of 50 Years of Text Games. We discuss the history of computer games, interactive fiction, business "gaming", and why we all love Adventure.
    You can find Aaron's work here:
    http://aaronareed.net/

    • 40 min
    Juggling Jobs with OS-9

    Juggling Jobs with OS-9

    Multitasking: we all do it. For a feature of modern computing multitasking has surprisingly old roots. It started out as timesharing on vacuum tube based machines, reached ubiquity on large computers, then hit a wall: the microcomputer. Multitasking didn't smoothly transition over as soon as home computers hit the scene. It took some time, and it took some adaptation. Today we are looking at what made timesharing work, early changes to microprocessors that paved the way for multitasking, and one of the first operating systems to support timesharing in the home.

     

    Selected Sources:
     

    https://www.roug.org/soren/6809/os9sysprog.html - OS-9 System Programmer's Manual
     

    https://archive.org/details/byte-magazine-1979-01/page/n15/mode/2up - Article on the development of the 6809
     

    https://sci-hub.se/10.1109/TEC.1962.5219356 - The One-Level Storage System

    • 1 hr
    A Ballad in 2600 Hertz

    A Ballad in 2600 Hertz

    There's power in music, but not all tones are created equal. During the reign of Bell Telephone there was one tone in particular that opened up a world of possibilities: 2600 Hz. The devotees of this note were called phreakers, and in some cases they knew the telephone system better than Bell employees themselves. This episode were diving in to the early history of phreaking, how a bag of tricks was developed, and why exploring the phone grid was so much fun.
     

    Selected sources:
     

    http://explodingthephone.com/ - Phil Lapsley's book and website of the same name
     

    https://archive.org/details/belltelephonemag09amerrich/page/205/mode/2up - All about the Holmes Burglar Alarm system
     

    http://explodingthephone.com/docs/dbx0947.pdf - FBI's records on Barclay and the Blue Box

    • 1 hr 5 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
38 Ratings

38 Ratings

UX_dave ,

Very well researched podcast

This is the best computer history podcast I’ve found. The host really does his research for each episode. He also does a good job conveying why each topic is important to the development of computers.

Ripjetski ,

Informative!

Very informative look at computings roots in history. Well researched and presented!

GregLloyd ,

Interesting topics, well-researched, enjoyably presented

An enjoyable computer history podcast covering well chosen topics presented in a lively and interesting style. The content is well researched, well organized, and places its topics in context. Episodes include enough technical content to cover key points, but don’t require a technical background to appreciate the history and relevance to how things work today. Highly recommended.

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