Odd and Awesome Computer Facts, Part III

Odd and Awesome Computer Facts, Part III

     In this blog post, we present Part III of our Odd and Awesome Computer Facts series! Read on to gain some fascinating knowledge on the strange history of computing. Why do you need to know these random facts? To help you win trivia night at the pub, of course!

DID YOU KNOW … computer programming used to be done with punch cards?

Computer punch card

     The first programmer didn’t have nice software like we do today — they had to use punch cards.

     The first computer programs needed to be written (i.e., actually punched out) on perforated punch cards. To fix a programming error, you had to “re-punch” your program. Each program might take up an entire “deck” of cards, all of which had to be scanned in a big IMB punch card scanner (in the correct order, of course) before being sent out to the actual computer.

     One of the worst things that could happen to a programmer in the age of punch-card programming was to drop his program on the floor and then have to reorder a few thousand punch cards!

     Check out this retro video about punch-card computer programming.

DID YOU KNOW … the first computer game was NOT Pong?

first computer game

     A lot of people think that the tennis game “Pong” was the first video game, and technically, they are right. But if you want to know about the first computer game, we need to dig further back in time, to 1947 — 19 years before Pong!

     The first computer game designed to be played on a cathode ray tube (CRT) television — an old school “box” style TV — was designed by Thomas T. Goldsmith Jr. and Estle Ray Mann. They filed for a patent for their game in January 1947 and the patent was granted in December 1948. The simple game used 8 vacuum tubes allowing the user to turn different knobs to shoot missiles at a screen.

     Since the device could not generate a video signal, small targets drawn on a simple overlay were placed on the CRT. So technically, the so-called “Cathode Ray Tube Amusement Device” was not a “video game.” But it was definitely a computer game!

     The earliest graphical computer game, or “video game,” was a CRT tic-tac-toe game invented in 1952 at the University of Cambridge.

     Learn more about these and other early video games (including Pong) here!

DID YOU KNOW … the first computers weighed as much as a humpback whale?

Eniac Computer

     Today’s computers are as ultra-portable as they are powerful — just think about the iPhone or Android in your pocket and how amazed with its computing power and tiny size you would have been 15 or 20 years ago. But the first computers were a lot bigger than the standard desktop PCs of the 1990s. And we mean, a LOT bigger…

     The Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC), was one of the first electronic programmable computers and the first of its kind built in the United States. The computer weighed 30 tons (that’s 60,000 pounds, about as heavy as a humpback whale) and took up 1,800 square feet of space.

     The ENIAC, built in 1945, also used over 200 kilowatts of electric power and contained over 18,000 vacuum tubes, 1,500 relays, and more than 5,000 feet of wires.

     Learn more about this gigantic computer here.

DID YOU KNOW … computer “chip creep” used to be a thing?

     On old computers, the computer chip was not all soldered in as they are with today’s computers. With the heating and cooling of the chip, the chip would slowly creep out of the socket and cause the computer to malfunction. If you’re old enough, you may remember having to push in a creeping chip!

Odd and Awesome Computer Facts, Part I
Odd and Awesome Computer Facts, Part II