Powers of Ten

Let’s get started with the movie: Powers of Ten.

I quote from the entry in Charles and Ray Eames Site:

We hear about scale every day, whether it be supertankers, stars burning thousands of lightyears away, the study of microscopic viruses, or global warming. Understanding scale, or as the Eameses said, “the effect of adding another zero,”  has the power to make us better scholars and better citizens.

Charles and Ray’s documentary, Powers of Ten—one of most famous short films ever made—has been seen as an exemplar for teaching and understanding the importance of scale for nearly four decades. Now you can explore these ideas with your class, company, or family in tandem with Scale is the New Geography, a companion film to Powers of Ten by Charles’s grandson, Eames Demetrios. Learn more about the films and watch them below.

Before you go back to Good Design is Good Business or if want maybe browse the site, take a look at the exposition on Charles and Ray Eames the Vitra Design  Museum has created:

“Charles & Ray Eames. The Power of Design”
September 30, 2017  – February 25, 2018
Vitra Design Museum Gallery
Charles-Eames-Straße 2,  Weil am Rhein


Mathematical calculations and the computer.

First, what mathematical calculations?

(I used extensively information gathered at Quora ‘s Forum Is advanced mathematics useless?”)

I learned it the hard way when by the first time I proposed an graduate course on Quality at the IMECC at Unicamp, which is basically state of the art as it is possible in my country, Brazil. Professors there typically graduate from MIT  of UCLA or some equivalent in Europe.

You have  “pure math”, and “applied math”, which, before defining it, it must be said that pure mathematicians do it for the enjoyment of it. Something similar to what poets do. And many of them consider  applied mathematics some sort of profane or defiling act, if not foul, as it became very clear to me in my first interaction with IMECC.

On top of that pure math has a tradition of discovering things that seem at the moment of discovery useless and after 50 to 200 years become a must of some kind of applied science or technology.

So, it is a very loaded subject to deal with.

Doing applied math means that you are trying to solve real-world problems by applying mathematics.

Pure math means developing mathematics without an application in mind. Although probably there are no applications yet, they might come up with.

There is a tendency from unwary people to consider pure  mathematics useless, what, with the whole picture in mind is not the case.

There is a lot of quarel about the relationship of computers and mathematics, pure or applied.

You do not have to understand at all how a computer works or major in computer science. Simply because it is humanly impossible to deal with the amount of information embedded in a computer as a machine.

You simply have to know how to transform your mathematical idea into some kind of alghoritm and how do program it tol feed it to a computer.

Nowadays, Alghoritm Research became Advanced Mathematics… and what was once Advanced Mathematics became Elementary Mathematics…

One big issue I see is that there is a tendency to hide real world problems with unpronounceble names, such as, for instance, if you are interested in how light is reflecting off some object and how the objects affects it, you eventually will come up with  “Blinn-Phong shading to sub-surface scattering and also the many variants of Ambient Occlusions” if you are interested in smooth, realistic shadows in graphics. To explain that crap will take eventually  hours not to mention actually reading and understanding it.

Another example, in Financial technology, or fintech, if you are given a finite amount of data and not being able to completely predict the future, in order to find ways to predict the market you may use “generalized autoregressive conditional heteroskedasticity models or GARCH models”.

At the end of the day, after working in IBM for 22, mostly in developing, manufacturing and supporting mainframes, it seems to me that:

  1. We think mathematically about the world, or reality if you take in consideration also the world we have within us, because the natural world, specially the one outside of us, presents to our mind, or brains, that is an accurate and truthful way to figure it out. We do it specially under one capability of our brain or mind which is generally named logically or with rationality. From that you can fairly assume that all of mathematics is the reflex of the reflex in our mind of the natural world or the world inside of us.
  2. But the world is neither rational or irrational. It defies understanding with the equipment we are able to have to try it. As an example, take Newton Physics, Relativity and Quantum Mechanics. Each one perfectly explained mathematically, but destroying what was accepted by the other. This will go on and on, simply because the mathematics involved reflected in our minds about the reflex or reality does not reflect it as it really is. We were built or developed in such a fashion that this will never happen.
  3. Bottom line is that the real world or the reality we are stuck with does not proceed mathematically. The mathematical structures we conceive are not capable of expressing paradoxes or come up with some reasonable way to tackle time, distance and above all, size.
  4. What the world we live in is, inside or outside, is a mystery yet to be solved if it ever will.
  5. This doesn’t mean that the fact that Math is a reflex makes it useless.  If you leave out all the glamour and complication to the average mind it has, you end up with a powerful tool and decision maker our human nature can provide in most cases. But you have to use it with wisdom, which is a human nature only capability.
  6. The landing procedures explained at the introduction of this topic is the perfect example. If you ad to it real world math, where most often it is applied to what economists call “expected costs”, when  you try to figure out what is the cost of some risk and what chance that if will happen is the issue, you have a very good figure of what mathematics and the computers are all about.

Back to Good Design is Good Business


What actually happens inside of a computer?

And I mean Main Frame Computers of IBM

Which can be seen in more detail here

Obviously this is not an introductory presentation of a Computer Science Course. And I will try here to do what Charles and Ray Eames did when they were praised by Tom Watson Jr and the team, when they said: Charlie can put what a computer does into a little cartoon-like film and in the course of twelve minutes have everybody in the room understanding—how they work.”

The best place to start is to take a look in the excellent job about How did the Apollo flight computers get men to the moon and back .

The key catch here is the Task which is under the computer control, or responsibility, if you will.

The basic task of any computer is to transform Data into information and decide, or help somebody  what to do with it.

Data, generally speaking, are things known or assumed as facts, making the basis of reasoning or calculation.

In computing, data is the quantity, character or the symbol on which operations are to be performed by the computer, being stored and transmitted in some form, in most cases through electrical signals, which can be recorded through some kind of media, such as solid state, magnetic, optical, mechanical, or whatever technology which allows its recovery after.

Information is data with meaning to whatever you can conceive and which is attained eventually with the use of a computer

In a very broad sense it boils down mostly to mathematical calculations or process control, being that that from the bulk of an infinite list of  processes, those associated with daily operations of any size world’s corporations are the main stream. General ledger, pay roll, stock control and everything related to sales were, up until the early nineties more than half than anything computers did. Today (2018) it is difficult, if not impossible, specially for the lack of criteria, to establish that. We are on the verge of creation of virtual reality and  modeling for just about anything  with a long list of possibilities from which perhaps we should mention Computer Aided Design (CAD), image and voice processing, games and, why not, virtual reality.

It should be mentioned that until the mid-Until de mid 1990s, mainframes provided the only acceptable means of handling the data processing requirements of a large business. These requirements were then (and are often now) based on running large and complex programs, which Personal Computers, or smaller non main frames computers are getting into.

The first and most important consideration you have to have in mind is what became very clear in the presentation about the Apollo landing analysis: Mission Critical Application vs. Applications in General.

The old 360 architecture, no matter disguised under whatever name, or what advance it received, is still what you have to have if you want it done securely.

People do not know but it is impossible to bug an IBM Main Frame Operational System, just for starts.

Bear in mind that your ATM machine is a PC, but at the  other end it is a Main Frame. As matter of fact, almost all ATM machines in the USA as of today, 2018, run on XP, which had its support discontinued by Microsoft. Bear also in mind that, when a business application is accessed through a Web browser, there is often a mainframe computer performing crucial functions behind the scenes.

As it was the case in the Apollo landing set up.

Scalability and Reliability is also a very important aspect. For example, a banking institution could use a mainframe to host the database of its customer accounts, for which transactions can be submitted from any of thousands of ATM locations worldwide

Businesses today rely on the mainframe to:

  • Perform large-scale transaction processing (thousands of transactions per second)
  • Support thousands of users and application programs concurrently accessing numerous resources
  • Manage terabytes of information in databases
  • Handle large-bandwidth communication

Take a look, if you didn’t, at mathematical calculations and the computer.



Mathematica: A World of Numbers… and Beyond

Take a look at Wikipedia: Mathematica: A World of Numbers… and Beyond

Since it is rather clumsy to go to the point on what is that, I selected and organized information about it. If you live in an area close to the Unicamp, at Campinas, SP, Brasil, you can see the poster at the IMECC At ground level, under the clock display on the right lower portion of the above picture.

Mathematica, the first show organized by the Eames Office, is on permanent display at Boston’s Museum of Science and the New York Hall of Science. More than 50 years after its original inauguration, visitors still relish its beauty and multilayered exploration of how mathematics shapes our world.

New York

C & Ray Eames Mathematica 02


C & Ray Eames Mathematica 03


To celebrate Ray Eames’ centenary, Eames Office and IBM again joined forces to take the content in the timeline and make an app out of it. The result is “Minds of Modern Mathematics” which is billed as a multi medium exploration of the history of mathematics

Probaly the best bet is to download the free App Minds of Modern Mathematics at iTunes. The basics can be seen at .It is worth though to know how it got there.

From Thinking about museums

In 1961, IBM and the iconic designers Charles and Ray Eames presented “Mathematica: A World of Numbers… and Beyond” to the new California Museum of Science and Industry. It was the first of many exhibitions the Eames would create for IBM, and Mathematica would become so well-known that IBM would eventually create additional copies that were starring attractions at several U.S. science centers over the next five decades.

Five years after the opening of the Mathematica exhibit, IBM and Eames created “Men of Modern Mathematics” an enormous timeline of mathematical and scientific history. Copies of this timeline were added to Mathematica and posters were perennial favorites of museum shops and math department offices for years

C & Ray Eames Mathematica 04




The Eames, perhaps best known to designers for their chairs and to dorks for “The Powers of Ten” film they made, were instrumental in creating the mid 20th century American aesthetic, partly for their willingness to engage in any medium they fancied; architecture, interior design, furniture, filmmaking, museum exhibitions, etc…

The surviving Mathematica exhibitions are practically artifacts themselves, living embodiments of the Eames’ design mind. They were also masters of content development, as this app makes clear. If you’ve ever stood in front of one of the “Men of Modern Mathematics” timelines, you can appreciate why its so hard to make a good timeline. They take a (literally) gigantic amount of historical content and somehow make it all tell the story they want. It’s a hypertextual experience in physical form. Your eye can skip and jump from node to node, backwards, forwards, up, and down, as you explore math and its connections to everything going on between 1000-1950.

The app manages to capture the feeling of that experience, while rendering it in a format suitable for the iPad, which takes advantage of the affordances of the iPad in a way think Ray and Charles would’ve enjoyed. Each person or event on the timeline has both text and images and links to more information on the web. The app changes the user interface depending on whether you’re in landscape or portrait orientation, a la Biblion. And best of all, it collects in one place the short films the Eames made for the exhibition on one screen. The Math Peep Shows are classics of educational medium. Concepts like scaling and size, exponents, and other mathematical esoterica are explained and explored in a decidedly whimsical fashion.

This exibition was extremely inspirational on doing this job about James Joyce specially the THE GUEST/HOST RELATIONSHIP

A Computer Perspective


The first of many Eames Office exhibitions designed for IBM, A Computer Perspective charted the development of the computer from 1890 to 1950.
This exhibition included vintage and modern machines and a densely-layered six-paneled History Wall that incorporated computer artifacts, documents, and photographs mounted at various depths.
A Computer Perspective included a multiscreen slide show of 500 images called AV Rack, which highlighted the newest computer applications at that time. It also featured an interactive computer game of “Twenty Questions,” in which visitors tried to guess which subject (animal, vegetable, or mineral) the computer had selected.
A Computer Perspective opened at the IBM Corporate Exhibit Center in 1971 and ran through 1975.

C & Ray Eames A

C & Ray Eames B

C & Ray Eames C

C & Ray Eames D

C & Ray Eames E

C & Ray Eames FC & Ray Eames 01

C & Ray Eames 02




Good Design Is Good Business

It is absolutely amazing that despite the fact that IBM’s Corporate Design Program, the first of its kind in America,  has practically only one serious attempt to analyze it, to history it, to understand it, to put it into perspective, when we know how many billions a brand is worth, and IBM has been one which more consistently kept its value. I would risk to say that IBM as it was on the mind of the Watsons, father and son, has vanished and it hasn’t vanished for good yet, because of its image. This book is The Interface: IBM and the Transformation of Corporate Design, 1945–1976 (A Quadrant Book).

Design to what?

We should have in the back of our minds the whole “tour de force” article of Thomas Haigh Communications of the ACM, Vol. 61 No. 1, Pages 32-37, because it’s not obvious what the design shouldexpress and, as matter of fact, it is subtle and it seems to me most people don’t realize that what is in every body’s mind as Big Blue can be realized under two sets of perception:

  1. Predominant, prevalent, “to the eyes” impression
  2. Computing and human relationship “in deep” impression
 I -Predominant, prevalent, “to the eyes” impression

Everything that takes form physically in three or two dimensions or you can see it printed as a logo, for example, or in pictures. Buildings, the machines themselves.The IBM logo  in this category.

II-Computing and human relationship “in deep” impression  
This is about what the computer actually does. Generally associated with science, specially under mathematics. You can’t see it not only because millions of such things are taking place in a blink of the eye, but also because it involves trainning to understand what is happening.

 I -Predominant, prevalent, “to the eyes” impression

Before we tackle this subject, it should be said that the title, Good Design Is Good Business is from 1973 lecture at the University of Pennsylvania, Thomas Watson Jr delivered, despite he was the father of it all almost immediately after his father’s demise when he became President, back in 1956, when he hired as the company’s design consultant Eliot Noyes.

There is the “oficial version” at IBM’s at 100’s commemorative site, created in 2011, where basically the history goes that Thomas Watson Jr, strolling the neighborhood of 590 Madison Av. NY headquarters was impressed with Olivetti’s typewriters shop, not only with the machines themselves, but with the brightness and modern looking of the building.  This was 1956 and I quote from the above site:

“In 1956, Watson Jr. hired as the company’s design consultant Eliot Noyes, a well-respected architect and former curator of industrial design at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Noyes’s goal was to create a first-of-a-kind corporate design program that would encompass everything from IBM’s products, to its buildings, logos and marketing materials. The goal was much more than consistency of look and feel. It marked perhaps the first time in which a business organization itself—its management, operations and culture, as well as its products and marketing—was conceived of as an intentionally created product of the imagination, as a work of art. “In a sense, a corporation should be like a good painting; everything visible should contribute to the correct total statement; nothing visible should detract,” Noyes wrote.”

The rest is history and the first suggestion I have for readers is to read the entire entry on the quoted site, for starts.

If you can’t or does not want to buy the only book on the subject there is to it to my knowledge, it doesn’t matter, you can read only what it is offered on line by Amazon, which is enough. Including one review from an old timer IBM r, criticizing the book.

From the benefit of Internet and since we are now in 2018, you should read the the amazing tour de force from Thomas Haigh Communications of the ACM, Vol. 61 No. 1, Pages 32-37

Before I elaborate my considerations, after living there 22 years, let’s first take a look at a visual list of  10  IBM Design Gems:


Elliot Noyes, pictured, was an architect and former curator of industrial design  at MOMA,  NY and became responsible to implement a corporate design program not only to atend the huge expansion of plants and office but also graphic and industrial design. He personally designed the iconic IBM typewriter. Among the artists, designers and architects he hired were: Charles and Ray Eames, Eero Saarinen, Marcel Breuer and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.

ibm logo history

Noyes hired Paul Rand which woul later modify again the IBM logo and the THINK

IBM 702 Display at 590 Madison Av. created by Elliot Noyes

IBM 702 at 590 Madison av NY

ibm-thomas watson jr



Eero Saarinen Rochester, Minn., 1958 IBM 576 000 sq feet facility


Eero Saarinen second building for IBM, the Thomas J Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, NY, completede in 1961


IBM Aerospace Defense building

IBM aerospace 1

The IBM Pavillion at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York, designed by Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen.

IBM 1964 W Fair Pavillion

Mid 1960’s Isamu Noguchi Armonk Headquarters gardens

IBM Armonk I Noguchi gardens

Marcel Breuer and Thomas Tatjie Boca Raton, Flafacilities, 1970

IBM Boca RAton

Norman Foster, british architect IBM Pilot Head Office in Portsmouth, England, 1971

IBM Portsmouth

Mies van der Rohe 1971 (after his death in 1969) One IBM Plaza, Chicago (landmark, 2008)

IBM Chicago

II-Computing and human relationship “in deep” impression 

No body, architect, designer or anything else, contributed more than Charles and Ray Eames to making it possible to figure ou what happens inside of a computer, specially an IBM one. The subject will be covered using their approaches as it was possible ate the time they did it,  but a bit of consideration from the benefit of today (2018) is worth an attempt and the reader should go there and come back here:

What actually happens inside of a computer?

Charles and Ray Eames

Charles Ray Eames

“Charlie can put what a computer does into a little cartoon-like film and in the course of twelve minutes have everybody in the room understanding—how they work.” – Thomas Watson Jr.Designers and artists, Charles and Ray Eames created during their long career a prodigious body of work that includes sculpture, installation, film, photography, furniture and toys. The Eames Office was frequently hired to create educational installations for museums and companies that benefited from the couple’s experimental approach and pioneering use of innovative technologies. Charles and Ray Eames worked as design consultants for IBM from 1953 until their deaths in 1978 and 1988, respectively. That body of work includes exhibits and films for the IBM pavilions at the 1958, 1964, and 1968 world’s fairs, including the films The Information Machine: Creative Man and the Data Processor and Think. Their iconic 1968 film Powers of Tenremains a classic to this day.

(From IBM 100)

Although Charles and Ray Eames had projects which touched architecture, such as they participation in the IBM Pavillion of the World’s Fair ad 1964, their contribution deserves an understanding because what they did has a kind of its own.  It’s not obvious and subtle and it seems to me that because of that they haven’t yet deserved the differentiated role that they had in the imagery has in the back of every body’s mind of Big Blue. This can be perceived under the two sets of perception aforementioned:

  1. Predominant, prevalent, “to the eyes” impression
  2. Computer and human relationship “in deep” impression
 I -Predominant, prevalent, “to the eyes” impression

Supporting Great Design

For Watson Jr., greatness included a commitment to elegance in design and the finest in modern architecture. An IBM System 360 featured prominently in the recent TV show Mad Men, where its stylish complexity symbolized the rise of analytic approaches to advertising. Today the clean, confident design aesthetic of the 1950s and early 1960s is more popular than ever. Period houses, furniture, and consumer products sell for a premium. No company did more to popularize that aesthetic and bring it into the American mainstream than IBM.

As documented by John Harwood in his book The Interface: IBM and the Transformation of Corporate Design, 1945–1976, IBM’s design chief, Eliot Noyes, assembled one of the most influential teams in history. Their skills were applied not only to the firm’s computers and office products, which received a unified and stylish industrial design language, but also to documentation, public exhibits, and architecture. IBM hired Charles and Ray Eames, probably best remembered today for their iconic chairs, to produce one of the earliest exhibits on the history of computing. Its landmark buildings, which hoisted the firm’s logo like a flag in the leading cities of the free world, were designed by star architects such as Mies van der Rohe.

IBM’s greatness also rested on its commitment to science. For its research headquarters, in Yorktown Heights, IBM turned to industrial architect Eero Saarinen, responsible for such futuristically iconic structures as the Gateway Arch in St. Louis and the TWA terminal at JFK airport. The lab curves in an oval shape, glowing in the dark like a flying saucer. Into the 1950s IBM retained a hands-on, product-centered engineering culture, long after Bell Labs and General Electric hired scientists and built up centralized research and development centers. By the 1960s, however, its international network of research facilities set the standard for corporate commitment to research. Its researchers, envisioned by Saarinen as “tweedy pipe-smoking men,” enjoyed the enviable conjunction of university-like research facilities with IBM’s generous pay and benefits and freedom from teaching duties. The firm’s Nobel prizes came from basic research into fields such as superconductivity and electron microscopy. IBM’s willingness to fund basic science reflected the many possibilities for payback across the huge range of products it developed and manufactured, from semiconductors and core memories to disk drives, keyboards, punched cards, printers, and dictating machines.

From 1853 to 1978, Charles and to 1988, Ray, were involved in the following projects: (Before that, take a look in this set of questions and answers):

1 – What is design?

The questions and answers below were the conceptual basis of the exhibition Qu’est ce que le design? (What is Design?) at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Palais de Louvre in 1972. Questions by Madame. L. Amic, answers by Charles and Ray Eames

During the interview, Charles Eames answers questions about the role and meaning of design in society but also the constraints in furniture and industrial design. The interview is a complete and interesting overview about the principles that drove Charles Eames across his fortunate and successful career as furniture designer, illustrator, movie director and architect.

Video Transcription:
Mme. L. Amic: What is your definition of “Design,” Monsieur Eames?
Mr. Eames: One could describe Design as a plan for arranging elements to accomplish a particular purpose.

Mme. L. Amic: Is Design an expression of art?
Mr. Eames: I would rather say it’s an expression of purpose. It may, if it is good enough, later be judged as art.

Mme. L. Amic: Is Design a craft for industrial purposes?
Mr. Eames: No, but Design may be a solution to some industrial problems.

Mme. L. Amic: What are the boundaries of Design?
Mr. Eames: What are the boundaries of problems?

Mme. L. Amic: Is Design a discipline that concerns itself with only one part of the environment?
Mr. Eames: No.

Mme. L. Amic: Is it a method of general expression?
Mr. Eames: No, it is a method of action.

Mme. L. Amic: Is Design a creation of an individual?
Mr. Eames: No, because to be realistic. One must always recognize the influence of those that have gone before.

Mme. L. Amic: Is Design a creation of a group?
Mr. Eames: Very often.

Mme. L. Amic: Is there a Design ethic?
Mr. Eames: There are always Design constraints, and these often imply an ethic.

Mme. L. Amic: Does Design imply the idea of products that are necessarily useful?
Mr. Eames: Yes, even though the use might be very subtle.

Mme. L. Amic: Is it able to cooperate in the creation of works reserved solely for pleasure?
Mr. Eames: Who would say that pleasure is not useful?

Mme. L. Amic: Ought form to derive from the analysis of function?
Mr. Eames: The great risk here is that the analysis may be incomplete.

Mme. L. Amic: Can the computer substitute for the Designer?
Mr. Eames: Probably, in some special cases, but usually the computer is an aid to the Designer.

Mme. L. Amic: Does Design imply industrial manufacture?
Mr. Eames: Not necessarily.

Mme. L. Amic: Is Design used to modify an old object through new techniques?
Mr. Eames: This is one kind of Design problem.

Mme. L. Amic: Is Design used to fit up an existing model so that it is more attractive?
Mr. Eames: One doesn’t usually think of Design in this way.

Mme. L. Amic: Is Design an element of industrial policy?
Mr. Eames: If Design constraints imply an ethic, and if industrial policy includes ethical principles, then yes: Design is and element in an industrial policy.

Mme. L. Amic: Does the creation of Design admit constraint?
Mr. Eames: Design depends largely on constraints.

Mme. L. Amic: What constraints?
Mr. Eames: The sum of all constraints. Here is one of the few effective keys to the Design problem: The ability of the Designer to recognize as many of the constraints as possible. His willingness and enthusiasm for working within these constraints- constraints of price, of size, of strength, of balance, of surface, of time, and so forth. Each problem has its own peculiar list.

Mme. L. Amic: Does Design obey laws?
Mr. Eames: Aren’t constraints enough?

Mme. L. Amic: Are there tendencies and schools in Design?
Mr. Eames: Yes, but these are more a measure of human limitations than of ideals.

Mme. L. Amic: Is Design ephemeral?
Mr. Eames: Some needs are ephemeral. Most Designs are ephemeral.

Mme. L. Amic: Ought Design to tend towards the ephemeral or towards permanence?
Mr. Eames: Those needs and Designs that have a more universal quality tend toward relative permanence.

Mme. L. Amic: How would you define yourself with respect to a decorator? an interior architect? a stylist?
Mr. Eames: I wouldn’t.

Mme. L. Amic: To whom does Design address itself: to the greatest number? to the specialists or the enlightened amateur? to a privileged social class?
Mr. Eames: Design addresses itself to the need.

Mme. L. Amic: After having answered all these questions, do you feel you have been able to practice the profession of “Design” under satisfactory conditions, or even optimum conditions?
Mr. Eames: Yes.

Mme. L. Amic: Have you been forced to accept compromises?
Mr. Eames: I don’t remember ever being forced to accept compromises, but I have willingly accepted constraints.

Mme. L. Amic: What do you feel is the primary condition for the practice of Design and for its propagation?
Mr. Eames: The recognition of need.

Mme. L. Amic: What is the future of Design?

…. (no answer, perhaps Eames already dit it when saying The recognition of need… which, after all, it is also the past and the present…)

2- A Computer Perspective

From the perspective of today (2018) probably the best start is to  look carefully at the book which resulted from a permanent exposition IBM used to have at 590 Madison Av. NY, at the floor level about the inception of the computer.

3 – Mathematica: A World of Numbers… and Beyond

4 – Powers of Ten

How it started for private Companies or Bridging the gap

The MIT Press Series in the History of Computing, back in 1986 started with fourbooks:

  1. Memories That Shaped an Industry
  2. Memoirs of a Compter Pioneer
  3. IBM’s Early Computers
  4. The Computer Comes of Age

Perhaps with the first three, because the fourth appeared before as a translation separately.

I haven’t so far had or read the first one, which as it can be seen in the title, although it is a pun, is concerned with ferrite memories.  It seems to me that it is a detailed account of what is already at those listed here and perhaps it is redundant. If price is no objection, what it is not my case, it should be bought. Perhaps a word of caution about these books. Maybe there is an excessive emphasis on the technological side what makes it incomprehensible if not boring for the average reader. But contains information that if properly filtered, as I think I am doing here, it is not only accurate, but brings up a correct perspective on the subject, specially on what it may contain of truth.

Although, as it says at the opening of the foreword of the IBM’s Early Computers a technology centered account and not a business history, it provides excellent light on how business sort of commanded the technological aspects of those early computers and eventually took over the design, i.e., the first mass produced computer, the 1401, was basically designed with customer needs in mind.

There is a tendency to imagine IBM a giant, if not bigger, such as General Motors, Ford, GE and the like. Including that for a number of years, perhaps a whole generation, IBM was the most valuable brand in the world and today (2018) it still ranks around 80 billion dollars in the first five.

Before discussing the image of IBM and how it got to be, what I will do at the end of his post and in the next,  let’s discuss its growth and how it got first big and then got the image. By the way it is not and it never was what it seems to be… How come and what do I mean?

In  1925 it had a mere 3698 employees and a gross income of 13 million dollars worldwide.

Let’s take an example of the Big Ones. Ford had only in the USA 14000 thousand employees and a gross income in the 100 million dollars range. When facing financial trouble in the 20’s, it managed to amass almost 30 million cash demanding his distributors to pay cash on delivery of its automobiles. After that, it is what it is well known up to WW II.

On the other and, by 1935, right on the eye of the Depression, IBM had 8654 employees and a gross income of 21 million and it was and would remain for some 50 years one of the very best places to work with

I should quote from History of IBM on Wikiwand

1930–1938: The Great Depression

Year Gross income (in $m) Employees
1930 19 6,346
1935 21 8,654

The Great Depression of the 1930s presented an unprecedented economic challenge, and Watson met the challenge head on, continuing to invest in people, manufacturing, and technological innovation despite the difficult economic times. Rather than reduce staff, he hired additional employees in support of President Franklin Roosevelt’s National Recovery Administration plan – not just salesmen, which he joked that he had a lifelong weakness for, but engineers too. Watson not only kept his workforce employed, he increased their benefits. IBM was among the first corporations to provide group life insurance (1934), survivor benefits (1935) and paid vacations (1936). He upped his ante on his workforce by opening the IBM Schoolhouse in Endicott to provide education and training for IBM employees. And he greatly increased IBM’s research capabilities by building a modern research laboratory on the Endicott manufacturing site.

With all this internal investment, Watson was, in essence, gambling on the future. It was IBM’s first ‘Bet the Company’ gamble, but the risk paid off handsomely. Watson’s factories, running full tilt for six years with no market to sell to, created a huge inventory of unused tabulating equipment, straining IBM’s resources. To reduce the cash drain, the struggling Dayton Scale Division (the food services equipment business) was sold in 1933 to Hobart Manufacturing for stock.[55][56] When the Social Security Act of 1935 – labeled as “the biggest accounting operation of all time”[57] – came up for bid, IBM was the only bidder that could quickly provide the necessary equipment. Watson’s gamble brought the company a landmark government contract to maintain employment records for 26 million people. IBM’s successful performance on the contract soon led to other government orders, and by the end of the decade IBM had not only safely negotiated the Depression, but risen to the forefront of the industry. Watson’s Depression-era decision to invest heavily in technical development and sales capabilities, education to expand the breadth of those capabilities, and his commitment to the data processing product line laid the foundation for 50 years of IBM growth and successes.

Back to IBM’s Early Computers

One very important aspect not quite well understood: A huge amount of IBM’s money came for some 50 years from the punched card itself and machines projected, developed and built around its logic. Since a punched card is basically a memory unit, anything related to memory means of storing information was always screened with that in mind… Despite of that, these machines could, if properly wired, do scientific computation. It is worth mentioning that the paper tape width which feed the MARK I was 3.25 inches exactly that of the punched card.

Watson would continue to gamble on the future, footing the bill of Mark I and keeping a full fledged laboratory at Endicott for research and development. But the experience left four sets of problems that would be in the back of Watson Sr.’s mind:

  1. As a novel machine, the first problem was to find a suitable characterization. News paper called it “Super brain”, “algebra machine” and Harvard University issued a press release using: “Algebraic super brain”
  2. Aiken submitted a press release only to the US Navy, which by arrangement had the sole use of the calculator and it read: “In charge of the calculator is the inventor Commander Howard H.Aiken, USNR, who worked out the theory which made the machine possible.’ This twice outraged Watson, first for the slight he suffered and second for the implied insult  to his men in the singular use of the term inventor. This cooled any further collaboration between IBM and Harvard.
  3. A third quandary concerned on how to portray of the ASCC Mark I power when compared to other systems. Comparisons tend to oversimplification and practicality and can only provide rough indication of relative system speeds. The basic reference was a manual operator clerk equipped with a desk calculator of the day which might take close to a minute to enter a multiplier, with perhaps 15 seconds for the product and copy the result. This was ten times more than what an IBM Type 601 took to multiply and punch a card. The ASCC Mark I would do it 100 times faster than the manual calculator and would do it for long periods of time without fatigue. If used on a 24 hour a day schedule, it could produce in a day what a manual calculator would produce in 6 months..
  4. The name. Convenience and the English language calls for short name or pronounceable acronym. The Mark I, followed by II, III and IV was Aiken’s idea and Harvard’s ASCC came to be known as Mark I.


These factors were behind the idea of Watson Sr. to surpass the ASCC Mark I, because the events challenged him. He gave order to McPherson, his engineering director, to create a calculating instrument faster than the ASCC. Vacuum tubes or Radio tubes were the option as a result of wartime developments.

IBM Engineering was heavily bent toward mechanical design. It would take a while and hundreds of novel circuits which granted patents and made IBM perhaps the most prolific patent aplications company in history. After successful creation of electronic flip flops, counters and finally an Electronic Multiplier, IBM was set to create such a machine as Watson Sr. had in mind and it was to be the SSEC, the Super Calculator.

It is very interesting that the fact that a machine could perform calculation by means of electronics was a novelty for IBM and impressed very much “Tom” Watson Jr, eldest son of Thomas Watson Sr. His interest and support provided impetus for the production of the first 50 machines,  designated IBM 603 Electronic Multiplier, demonstrated at the National Business Shoe in N Y City late September 1946. It was the first electronic calculator ever placed in production. It was followed by the IBM 604 Elecronic Calculator.

The Genesis of the SSEC is rather long to be discussed here, but summing it up, with the end of the war with Japan in August 1945, IBM’s engineering organization was abain free to runt its energies to peace time projects.

At the summer of 1945, Robert R.”Rex” Seeber, a Harvard graduate of 1932, long interested in computation, joined IBM. He had spent as a civilian in the Navy Department a year and a half in operations research and worked under Aiken, which rejected his suggestions about how a computer should be designed, which included the storing instructions and operating on them as data, as it is well known  is the idea of von Neumann and would take over the computer industry. He disparaged with Aiken, which was stubbornly  impervious to such idea and eventually entered IBM still determined to test his ideas. His disagreement with Aiken found him sympathetic toward IBM. This set his leaving Harvard and going to IBM.

About two months Seeber joined IBM, there was a meeting held in Poughkeepsie about the Super calculator, or how it was then referred, the “Sequence Calculator”, and Seeber described from his experiences with the Mark I, its shortcomings:

  • Lack of compatible instruction and data formats (and hence inability to operate on its own instructions);
  • Inflexibility of subroutine control;
  • Inability to record in large-scale (paper-tape) storage;
  • Inadequate speed of table look-up

A lot of effort took place and many extremely competent and creative people helped to create a working model of the SSEC which was then transferred from Endicott to 590 Madison Avenue headquarters of IBM in New York, with the engineering moving in together with it.

Oracle on 57th street


Then came the IBM 604

The IBM 602 was IBM’s first machine that did division. (The IBM 601, introduced in 1931, only multiplied.) Like other IBM calculators, it was programmed using a control panel. Input data was read from a punched card, the results could be punched in the same card or a trailing card.

IBM 603 First Commercial Electronic Calculator

IBM 604 Electronic Calculating Punch


The bridge between the  SSEC and those machines was to be brought about under the Magnetic Storage Calculator project, in Endicott, because there was a growing influence in the company’s affairs creating a need for marketing and product support of scientific computing. It should be a reduced capacity SSEC and it was to be offered by the sales force to people interested in doing technical calculations on IBM machines.

At the Endicott Scientific Computation Forum in the summer of 1948, Beech Aircraft Corporation presented a paper describing three dimensional flutter analysis of aircraft structures and other engineering applications done with a 601 and a  405. IBM people never heard of that and they set at the spring of 1949 a “Scientific Sales Program” hiring four men to do it. Among then was Walter H. Johnson, who would establish IBM’s Technical Computing Bureau in New York City, which would perform contract service for performing scientific and engineering computations. The centerpiece was the IBM 604. To that it was added new post with promotion of technical computation as a principal responsibility. Cuthbert C. Hurd, who had presented a paper at the 1948 Forum, was assigned to this new job. Hurd was a mathematics professor for 10 years, having had extensive experience with IBM machines, specially for statistics. He used his experience to install similar services for the US Coast Guard Academy. He also set up a technical computing service at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, concerned with production of Uranium when he had a chance to perform the computation needed for the famous John von Neumann diffusion process. These jobs tended to be long slow computations and Hurd perceived that computing machinery was about to become a significant element in society. With that in mind he asked for a job to Mr. Watson, Sr, who accepted him and he started to work at IBM on March 1rst 1949.

Hurd was pleased to find that Frank Hamilton in Endicott had been working for a year on the Intermediate Sequence Calculator for technical applications. But Watson, Jr.’s, redefinition of the machine in May 1949 as an improved 604 for business applications was a pointed reminder that the bulk of IBM’s business derived from applications outside the scientific field. When the CPC was announced, therefore, Hurd decided to make it the focus of his activities. He began a description of the CPC for the 1949 Scientific Computation Seminar, which he had been asked to organize, and supervised the writing of the CPC instruction manual. 36 In this period Hurd established a one-week session in Endicott during which customer personnel could program and run problems on the CPC prior to delivery of their own machine.”
The 1949 Scientific Computation Seminar attracted so much advance interest that two sessions were scheduled, one of three days in November and a second of five days in December. Watson, Jr., by now executive vice-president, was pleased by CPC orders, which reached over two dozen by year end, and by the customer list, which was a who’s who of the airframe industry and of important government agencies and laboratories. Soon after the November meeting, Watson Sr., made Hurd the director of a new department, Applied Science, with responsibility for the Technical Computing Bureau and instructions to hire and train as many “Applied Science Representatives” as were needed to demonstrate and promote the technical computing capabilities ofIBM machines. Thus the Scientific Sales Program was reborn, this time with support from the top.” Hurd recruited actively on college campuses in 1950, participated in making the CPC modifications demanded by some users, and sought ways to extend the benefits of information exchange – so apparent at the 1948 and 1949 Scientific Computation forums he had attended – to more users. He acted on a suggestion of Dunwell, who after visiting ten prospective CPC customers in the spring of 1949,40 had proposed a “national department in a position to visit this type of customer regularly and to prepare special bulletins” from which customers could learn of “methods developed by others with similar problems. In June 1950, the first issue of the IBM Applied Science Department Technical Newsletter appeared. An informal publication, it contained four papers describing useful IBM 604 general-purpose, control-panel wiring arrangements. In effect, these were 604 “programs” for calculating frequently used sets of mathematical functions, which, in the form of wired control panels, could be used for the solution of a variety of specific problems on the 604 an the CPC. One of the papers was by an IBMer, the other three by CPC customers.

The stage was set to the conversion of IBM from a mechanical relay oriented kind of machinery to a electronic tube oriented kind of machinery.

There was a lot of quarrel and discussions on how to combine properly the vital elements which make a successful product come to existence:

  1. A consistent set o figures on manufacturing costs
  2. Projected rentals
  3. market forecasts spelling profit
  4. A genuine interest of a corporate or marketing executive of the company

By late 1952 IBM 604 and IBM CPC  were on the verge of obsolescence having no chance to compete with the small stored program computers which were being offered by competitors as replacement to IBM CPC. (Consolidated Engineering Corporation 30-201, Computer Research Corporation 102-A  and Underwood Corporation Elecon 100). The 604 was being threatened by Remington Rand 409.

There was no agreement inside IBM Engineerign on what to do.

Thomas Watson, Jr, took over and decided on the Magnetic Drum Calculator project, which would become the IBM 650 Magnetic Drum Calculator which would become IBM 650 RAMAC and there is a contention wheter if it was the first mass produced computer or the 1401. Besides being solid state, in cheer numbers, the 1401 is the Ford Model T of the computer industry.

On paralel, IBM was developing a Tape Processing Machines program.

Quoting again from History of IBM on Wikiwand

1946–1959: Postwar recovery, rise of business computing, space exploration, the Cold War

Year Gross income (in $m) Employees
1950 266 30,261
1955 696 56,297
1960 1,810 104,241

IBM had expanded so much by the end of the War that the company faced a potentially difficult situation – what would happen if military spending dropped sharply? One way IBM addressed that concern was to accelerate its international growth in the years after the war, culminating with the formation of the World Trade Corporation in 1949 to manage and grow its foreign operations. Under the leadership of Watson’s youngest son, Arthur K. ‘Dick’ Watson, the WTC would eventually produce half of IBM’s bottom line by the 1970s.

A new IBM emerged in the 1950s. With the death of Founding Father Thomas J. Watson, Sr. on June 19, 1956 at age 82, IBM experienced its first leadership change in more than four decades. The mantle of chief executive fell to his eldest son, Thomas J. Watson, Jr., IBM’s president since 1952.

The new chief executive faced a daunting task. The company was in the midst of a period of rapid technological change, with nascent computer technologies – electronic computers, magnetic tape storage, disk drives, programming – creating new competitors and market uncertainties. Internally, the company was growing by leaps and bounds, creating organizational pressures and significant management challenges. Lacking the force of personality that Watson Sr. had long used to bind IBM together, Watson Jr. and his senior executives privately wondered if the new generation of leadership was up to challenge of managing a company through this tumultuous period.[96] “We are,” wrote one longtime IBM executive in 1956, “in grave danger of losing our “eternal” values that are as valid in electronic days as in mechanical counter days.”

Watson Jr. responded by drastically restructuring the organization mere months after his father died, creating a modern management structure that enabled him to more effectively oversee the fast moving company.[97] He codified well known but unwritten IBM practices and philosophy into formal corporate policies and programs – such as IBM’s Three Basic Beliefs, and Open Door and Speak Up! Perhaps the most significant of which was his shepherding of the company’s first equal opportunity policy letter into existence in 1953, one year before the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown vs. Board of Education and 11 years before the Civil Rights Act of 1964.[98] He continued to expand the company’s physical capabilities – in 1952 IBM San Jose launched a storage development laboratory which pioneered disk drives. Major facilities would later follow in Rochester, Minnesota; Greencastle, Indiana; Kingston, New York; and Lexington, Kentucky. Concerned that IBM was too slow in adapting transistor technology Watson requested a corporate policy regarding their use, resulting in this unambiguous 1957 product development policy statement: “It shall be the policy of IBM to use solid-state circuitry in all machine developments. Furthermore, no new commercial machines or devices shall be announced which make primary use of tube circuitry.”[99]

Watson Jr. also continued to partner with the United States government to drive computational innovation. The emergence of the Cold War accelerated the government’s growing awareness of the significance of digital computing, and drove major Department of Defense supported computer development projects in the 1950s. Of these, none was more important than the SAGE interceptor early detection air defense system.

IBM 7090 installation

In 1952, IBM began working with MIT’s Lincoln Laboratories to finalize the design of an air defense computer. The merger of academic and business engineering cultures proved troublesome, but the two organizations finally hammered out a design by the summer of 1953, and IBM was awarded the contract to build two prototypes in September.[100] In 1954, IBM was named as the primary computer hardware contractor for developing SAGE for the United States Air Force. Working on this massive computing and communications system, IBM gained access to pioneering research being done at Massachusetts Institute of Technology on the first real-time, digital computer. This included working on many other computer technology advancements such as magnetic core memory, a large real-time operating system, an integrated video displaylight guns, the first effective algebraic computer language, analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog conversion techniques, digital data transmission over telephone linesduplexingmultiprocessing, and geographically distributed networks). IBM built fifty-six SAGE computers at the price of US$30 million each, and at the peak of the project devoted more than 7,000 employees (20% of its then workforce) to the project. SAGE had the largest computer footprint ever, and continued in service until 1984.[101]

More valuable to IBM in the long run than the profits from governmental projects, however, was the access to cutting-edge research into digital computers being done under military auspices. IBM neglected, however, to gain an even more dominant role in the nascent industry by allowing the RAND Corporation to take over the job of programming the new computers, because, according to one project participant, Robert P. Crago, “we couldn’t imagine where we could absorb two thousand programmers at IBM when this job would be over some day, which shows how well we were understanding the future at that time.”[102] IBM would use its experience designing massive, integrated real-time networks with SAGE to design its SABRE airline reservation system, which met with much success.

These government partnerships, combined with pioneering computer technology research and a series of commercially successful products (IBM’s 700 series of computer systems, the IBM 650, the IBM 305 RAMAC (with disk drive memory), and the IBM 1401) enabled IBM to emerge from the 1950s as the world’s leading technology firm. Watson Jr. had answered his self-doubt. In the five years since the passing of Watson Sr., IBM was two and a half times bigger, its stock had quintupled, and of the 6000 computers in operation in the United States, more than 4000 were IBM machines.[103]

1960–1968: The System/360 era

Year Gross income (in $m) Employees
1955 696 56,297
1960 1,810 104,241
1965 3,750 172,445
1970 7,500 269,291

On April 7, 1964, IBM introduced the revolutionary System/360, the first large “family” of computers to use interchangeable software and peripheral equipment, a departure from IBM’s existing product line of incompatible machines, each of which was designed to solve specific customer requirements.[127] The idea of a general-purpose machine was considered a gamble at the time.[128]

Within two years, the System/360 became the dominant mainframe computer in the marketplace and its architecture became a de facto industry standard. During this time, IBM transformed from a medium-sized maker of tabulating equipment and typewriters into the world’s largest computer company.[129]

The company began four decades of Olympic sponsorship with the 1960 Winter Games in Squaw Valley, California. It became a recognized leader in corporate social responsibility, joining federal equal opportunity programs in 1962, opening an inner city manufacturing plant in 1968, and creating a minority supplier program. It led efforts to improve data security and protect privacy. It set environmental air/water emissions standards that exceeded those dictated by law, and brought all its facilities into compliance with those standards. It opened one of the world’s most advanced research centers in Yorktown, New York. Its international operations grew rapidly, producing more than half of IBM’s revenues by the early 1970s and through technology transfer shaping the way governments and businesses operated around the world. Its personnel and technology played an integral role in the space program and landing the first men on the moon in 1969. In that same year it changed the way it marketed its technology to customers, unbundling hardware from software and services, effectively launching today’s multibillion-dollar software and services industry. See unbundling of software and services, below. It was massively profitable, with a nearly fivefold increase in revenues and earnings during the 1960s.

This is about the size and the Gross Income which IBM would stabilize and still remains (2018). This all happened under  Thomas J. Watson, Jr., who was effectively who turned IBM in to what it became. He was also responsible for the image the company has, what is rarely discussed and I take the opportunity to do it at:

Who is going to drive?

Edward Loh 01 Edward Loh – Editor in ChiefMotor Trend logo January 2016

Motor Trend January 2016

In between the execution of our annual Car of the Year and Truck of the Year programs, I spent a weekend at Rennsport V, the fifth installment of all things Porsche, up at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Throughout the event , I bumped into legendary Porsche racers, guys like Jacky Ickx, Vic Elford. Derek Bell, Hans Stuck and Jochen Mass, along with a few of the newer endurance racing studs Mark Webber, Earl Bamber, and Patrick Long. Porsche even arranged for a ride with Brendon Hartley, factory driver of the second place finisher at Le Mans, in the new turbocharged 911 Carrera S.
The next day, I took a side trip to nearby Mountain View. California, for the polar opposite of Rennsport, a press conference on Google’s self-driving car (SDC) program.  As I had flown into the Bay Area, transit between venues involved hired cars of two different types.
The first was typical black car service, driven by a talkative young man who liked to peed, tailgate ,and brake late, all while frequently consulting the mobile phone on his lap.
My second ride was an UberX,  a brand-new Toyota Corolla so dealer fresh it still had a paper license plate and handwritten tag on the key noting car color and VIN. Such a shame the drive rear-ended another car just before arriving at my destination.
At the Googleplex, I glided around the parking lot in one of Google’s sensor-studded autonomous pods (page 18) before listening intently to project leader Chris Urmson describe the chief attribute and concern of Google’s SDC program: safety. Later, Google founder Sergey Brin dropped in unannounced to give us 30 minutes of insight into the future of cars, self-driving and otherwise. During the Q+A session, a journalist asked whether Brin was surprised by the number of accidents
Google cars have been involved in. “What has surprised me is the frequency, actually, of the number of times we’ve been rear-ended. … Humans are just not paying attention,”
Brin said, noting that the majority involved human drivers rear-ending the SDCs, “That’s not the end of the world, but that speaks to the challenge, with all the phones and the other distractions of cur modem age, to drive. In those situations, the car is probably much better equipped to drive than the distracted human.”
I left the press conference early, racing to beat rush-hour traffic to San Francisco. While I boarded my flight, Jason Cammisa called from the Tesla Model X launch (page 142) a few miles away in Fremont. A Model S with a beta version of the new autopilot software (page 145) was waiting to drive me down to L.A. if I wanted. I declined; I was so exhausted, it would have been dangerous no matter who was driving.
After a blissfully uneventful Uber from the LAX to HQ. I wandered into my dark office to find that Nate Martinez had left me the key to a 526 hp Mustang GT350. M short drive home was a riot – a fitting end to a surreal few days.
I frequently mulled over this sequence of events during the creation of this issue, which will, for the first time ever, reveal Motor Trend’s 2016 Car, Truck, SUV and Person of the Year.  Our choices will be controversial – they always are – but In the broader context of the future of transportation, they’re just footnotes.
Cars, trucks and SUV’s have never been  more powerful, more efficient, or more complicated than they are today. They have never been safer, easier to drive, higher performing or more connected. And yet, the automotive industry and car culture as we know it are under siege from all sides.
We are quickly approaching an intersection in the transportation landscape. The question isn’t just which way are we going – but who is going to drive?


Edward Loh 
Editor in Chief Motor Trend – January 2016
Google hosted an update on Its self – driving car (SDC) project in early October that included ride-alongs in two test mules. Motor Trend pod caster-in- chief Charlie Vogelheirn and I ventured to Google headquarters in Mountain View, California,
for the event. which started with rides and concluded with a presentation by the SDC team.
nodriver 01a
Our first ride was in a modified Lexus RX450h. one of three apparently identical SDCs Google made available for our junket. Google started with Toyota Priuses when it began experimenting with self-driving technologies, and the Lexus SUV’s appear to host Google’s latest self-driving hardware and software alongside traditional driver controls, namely a logically redundant steering wheel and gas and brake pedals.
Our Lexus came with two co-drivers, one behind the wheel, the other in the front passenger seat, monitoring a laptop, so Charlie and I rode in the second row. Aside from a short but wide-aspect ratio monitor mounted high on the center console,
the Lexus, except for a large red button mounted next to the shifter – ostensibly to be hit in emergencies. Despite the light modifications, Google requested no interior photos of any of the vehicles we rode in.
The exterior was more heavily modified (and photographable), most notably with an ice-bucket-sized spinning array atop a roof-mounted rack. “The Lexus has a plethora of sensors hung around the perimeter of the vehicle,” quipped Charlie
at first sight. “The vehicle is as much a test bed of sensors as a display of autonomous capabilities.” To sense its environment, Google self-driving cars rely on camera, radar, laser (LIDAR). and global positioning (GPS) systems mounted at various positions on he vehicle. Cameras are generally used for monitoring short – to medium-range distances and evaluating conditions such as changing traffic signals. objects in the immediate vicinity, and parking situations. Radar can be used in short – medium – and long-distance applications. Because it uses radio waves. radar is largely unaffected by weather conditions. LlDAR, the spinning getup on the roof, reflects laser beams in a 36O-degree field of view, and GPS provides precise location information.
nodriver 03a
So how does all this, uh, ride?
Well, despite how chaotic It may sound in the Motor Trend podcast Charlie and I attempted to record. I found our roughly our 12-minute journey interesting, if a little underwhelming.
After gawking, them boarding and buckling ourselves in, we were off – slowly at first and then to a full stop, Our longest delay of the day as we waited to merge to the right out the Google parking lot. It was a somewhat busy street and the roadway to the left obstructed by a curve in the road, so our Google Lexus made plenty sure that the road was clear before pulling out.
Once underway, it was business as usual. The drivers told us that the top speed of the self-driving RX4S0h is 35 mph and that the vehicles are programmed to obey all traffic laws and posted signs.
That seemed the case as we puttered around the suburban neighborhoods that surround the Googleplex HQ.  Charlie and I did note that at one point the speedometer indicated that were doing more than 25 mph in a residential area that shifted to a school zone.
“Good to know that it would only go through a school zone at 15 … err, 25 … err, 28 mph,” Charlie said. Our drivers had no comment.
As we cruised along neatly rimmed neighborhoods dotted with mid-century Eichler homes, there was time to evaluate that short and wide multicolor display mounted high on the center of the dash. We’re bombarded by screens in cars these days, but the slim yet spare screen in the Google Lexus is surprisingly refreshing. The road ahead glowed green against a dark field that occasionally rendered oncoming roads and objects in purplish-pink. Tree and cars and other obstacles we approached were regularly rendered every few seconds in  chitish squiggles. The pulsing manner in which the environment was drawn, apparently by the LIDAR unit spinning above our heads, was reminiscent  o scenes from old World War II submarine movies, where the sweep of the radar reveals the position of nearby ships and terrain. The road ahead and simple rendering of the surrounding area were just about all the information the screen conveyed during our trip: no speeds or traffic data, little in the way of street names or signage, there is precious little to report otherwise. The ride and handling were smooth, quiet, unremarkable; turns out a Lexus at 35 mph is a Lexus at 35 mph no matter who is (or isn’t) driving. There were no abrupt scoops or changes of direction, no jerky or unsmooth driving that would indicate anything other than a human chauffeur was behind the wheel Charlie did have mixed feelings about the way the lane changes were initiated. “The [auditory] lane change announcements were both informative and intrusive,” he said. “Imagine doing the same as you were driving.”
The only other distractions to the self-driving car experience: a bit of fan noise and heat emanating from computer hardware hidden behind the rear seats-and the human co-drivers. They were both friendly enough and happy to answer our rapid-fire, basic questions, but their mere presence took a little of the autonomous magic away. While Charlie noted how odd it was to see the steering wheel move by itself as the vehicle negotiated comers and intersections, I found it equally strange to watch the imminent disaster.
Is that really necessary? I thought to myself. Some of this blase attitude is, no doubt, a product of my own familiarity with the current state of semi-autonomous driving systems. A week before this Google ride, A week before  at our annual Car of the Year testing, we marveled at the new Chevy Malibu’s adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist systems’ ability to hold an 80 – mph cruising speed around a 6 mile oval while the driver took his hands off the wheel for the entire ride. Sure, asking a vehicle to maintain speed and lane position on a dosed highway is less complicated and risky than asking a car to drive itself around a crowded Silicon Valley suburb, but Google should take comfort; the trust  in its technology and others is out there.
Or perhaps I’m speaking too soon and this is but false bravado. Is a true driverless car something to fear? We soon found out.
Sure, the google SDC looks cute in a dopey sort of way, but that’s the design – a nonthreatening and approachable design dictated by safety. Make no mistake, what google is trying to do by creating its own self-driving car is very different from what has made it a leader in the technology space. With such thoughts swirling Charlie an I embraced the sinister goofiness, opened the door and climbed into the small electric-powered two-seater.
“Very welcoming, plenty of room,” Charlie said as he shut the door. For this portion of the ride-along, the google self-driving car team had journalists staged atop one of the Googleplex parking garages, queening for two-minute rides along a predetermined course.
That’s by design, too. The Google team worked with a number of well-known auto industry suppliers to build the prototypes and early versions of the car, but plans for consumer sales have yet to be revealed. Instead, Google hinted that its first application might be in me sort of masses-reaching, shared ride service. That would explain the paucity and simplicity of the controls; between the two seats were familiar switches for the windows, seat heaters, and reading lights and a glowing “Go” button that toggles to “Pull Over” once depressed. Behind it  lay a red-trimmed button under a plastic shield, presumably for emergency situations.
In from of both passengers was a large and deep bin for holding bags and gear. On the dash above the bin was a screen similar to the one found in the Lexus. Behind that was the car’s large windshield, which we later learned is made from flexible plastic to protect pedestrians from Impact. On the A-pillars, two rectangular screens showed views from the front comers of the car-not sure if they will on the car when It heads into production. as they seemed very protorypeish. Also curious was a vertical and horizontal slit In the foot well area. It seemed the ideal spot for some sort of pedal, perhaps to pop out in an emergency? Who knows.
After belting in and handling over our podcast tools we were ready to go.  In the real world, you’d push the button and tell Google where you’d like to go, perhaps via your phone (the team is still working this out). but since this was a pre programmed route, we just pushed the Go button and slowly rolled out.
The Google team set up a simple route complete with obstacles meant to simulate few real-world situations. After negotiating a 180 degree U-turn into a straightaway, the vehicle slowed for a pedestrian (a Google employee) who abruptly crossed
our path. We negotiated a couple more runs and yielded again as another Googler pulled out in front of us in a Ford Fusion. (It’s also white. also a hybrid-notice a theme here?) After slowing and safely passing, we yielded again for a bicyclist who approached from the side.
After rounding the last bend, we sidled up to some cones and slowed to a stop at a predetermined stop at a predetermined spot a few paces behind where the next riders were to be picked up.
“The ride was benign, sterile, very similar to an airport tram or Disney ride that calmly accelerates to a predetermined low speed,” Charlie said after the ride. “We’ve all been on the ride a hundred ties, yet this time there wasn’t a rail. The evasive moves and stops were unremarkable and predictable. I would like to have experienced a panic stop”
I wished for more, as well. Google’s self-driving technology is impressive; our short rides in its two cars clearly demonstrated that there is plenty more capability beyond what the  team showed us. But modesty is understandable given what is at stake. Google is the highest- profile non-car company developing autonomous driving technology and considered by many to be the smartest guys in the room. Any mishap in the early roll out to the press and public would represent a setback not just for Google but for the entire emerging category. Still there are moments when you just can’t help but be impressed.
“The most compelling moment was when we got out and the empty car proceeded for the next rider,” Charlie said. “Something about the vehicle moving without an occupant drove home the autonomous character.”
Subsequently, October 2016, Google provided a new get together  and the best start is to take a look at the video showing actually what it is all about.

Home Brew Computers and Games

As it can be read at Wikipedia, Home Brew Computers are generally a reference to games when they were not yet what they became when they came of age. With the help of my son, Pedro de Souza Campos, an electric and computer engineer, and a hands on person who made some bucks when in College assembling personal computers and having an unfulfilled dream of not becoming a games designer, let’s delve a little bit in the subject  adding up to the above article of Wikipedia. The General Perspective can be seen as follows:

Graphics and Games


70’s and mid 80’s

Intel was really meant to the Personal Computer, which became real as a product with the advent of the 8080 processor which was selected to the IBM PC, which exercised an orderly influence on the market, or the environment. Prior to the IBM PC, this market was created by the Zilog Z80 and the MOS 6502. As matter of fact, this market or environment was invented by Timex Sinclair 1000.

At this point in time the line between games and home computers was blurred, because there was a perception that one of the uses of home computers would be gaming. But before the existence of what today in the Windows is the bundle the Office, you had to perform all these tasks some how. An it was what Radio Shack did with its TRS 80 distributed by its home computers operation Tandy. The first TRS 80 was not well resolved (then its nickname Trash) but the model II was a huge success, sold in the millions. Its graphic package, when the memory was expanded to 64Kb was phenomenal and became a hit with its 16 colours, being clearly a better option than the Zilog Z80.
At this time, the games market was dominated by Atari with its 8 bit processor VCS 2600 in 1977 and some minor players such as Colecovision and Intellvision. Actually videogames would be pushing ahead technology in other areas.

Video Games

Video Games time line

The existence of Zilog Z80 and MOS 6502 gave birth to intelligent Video Games Consoles, and the Golden Age of Arcade Video Games came to an end and the second generation of video game consoles formatted the market which would sell in the hundred thousands to reach millions.  A comprehensive list and the details about them can be seen in the above articles.
The best-selling console of the second generation is by far the Atari 2600 at 30 million units. As of 1990, the Intellivision had sold 3 million units, a number around 1 million higher than the Odyssey2 sales, and the ColecoVision‘s total sales at 2 million units by April 1984, eight times the number of purchases for the Fairchild Channel F within one year, which was 250,000 units.
After this excellent start the video game market “crashed” and the basic reason was that home computers started to come of age. In this period home computers, such as  TK 85, Commodore Vic 20, were BASIC language oriented but with the advent of Intel 8087 Home computers  became more powerful and more able to deal with graphics and other needs of video games, no to mention that the clock speed wasn’t anymore the measure of computer power. In its place the industry started to measure performance in FLOPS, acording do IEE 754-1985, from which Intel 8087 was the first processor to be designed and many revolutionary processors also appeared giving birth to machines such as Apple IICommodore PET, TRS-80 Model I, IBM XT  which handled colour graphics extremely well and also numerical problems so necessary to video games.
This was perhaps the golden era of opportunities because the home computer was starting to come of age and perhaps the greatest opportunity any company ever lost was IBM, when it decided to insist in its MS DOS instead of going to the then incipient Windows, which according to urban tales was offered to IBM by Bill Gates, which invented it.
In this period also it was launched the  Nintendo Entertainment System (commonly abbreviated as NES) is an 8-bit home video game console that was developed and manufactured by Nintendo.
The Computer Processor was becoming Microprocessor and a whole bunch of them became available.
Microsoft also marketed in Japan its MSX operating system, which never reached the USA and was superseded in Japan by f Nintendo‘s Family Computer, as it was already mentioned, these new processors and chipsets brought amazing machines such as the Commodore 64, Apple 2 and Tandy TRS 80 and IBM PC XT.
At the same time Home Entertainment was coming of age.  CD’s, Laser Discs and later DVD’s were particularly useful for Video Games.

Mid 80’s to 90’s

When the technology didn’t allow per se, it was used, with the help of CD’s,  a full motion video (FMV) which is a video game narration technique that relies upon pre-recorded video files (rather than spritesvectors, or 3D models) to display action in the game. While many games featured FMVs as a way to present information during cutscenes, games that were primarily presented through FMVs and were referred to as full-motion video games or interactive movies.
The introduction of the  Motorola MC68000 processor was a leap ahead and high graphic processing capacity computers such as Comodore Amiga, Atari ST and Apple GS come to existence. It starts to become available 16 Bit processing, bringing down to home use a much more sophisticated mathematical capacity and what was then called memory direct access. The videogame industry pushes the technology to the limit with the Sega Genesis in 1988 with its  8 MHZ nominal processing over the MC68000 16 bits processor.  Motorola’s version was called the MC68HC000, while Hitachi’s was the HD68HC000. The 68HC000 was eventually offered at speeds of 8–20 MHz. Nintendo follows with its Super Famicon Games and SNES in 1989 and in Japan there was the introduction of the 16 bits WD CPU clocking 4GHZ. Despite inferior speed, its graphic unit was revolutionary offering for the first time 3D processing, zoom and rotation, which has never been seen before. The Computer Market was reaching its limits with Amiga ST 1000 and McIntosh Apple with a ticket price over 3.000 dollars then, which was how much it would cost a Camaro… That’s when the Personal Computer as such becomes of age. IBM was leading this segment. That’ s when larger capacity disk drives (up to 1.44Mb) became available. CD Rom technology became popular allowing larger capacity and more complicated applications to be offered (740 Mb).

90’s to 2000’s

Improving over the Intel 80286, and its product IBM PC AT Compaq was first to use the Intel 80386  in April 1986 and it marked the first CPU change to the PC platform that was not initiated by IBM. It was reverse engineering, but done legally. An IBM 386 machine eventually reached the market seven months later, but by that time Compaq was the 386 supplier of choice and IBM had lost its image of technical leadership. This paradigm breakup was followed in May, 22 1990 by Microsoft which announces its Windows 3.0. These computers evolved to use the Intel 80287 and 80387, which had co processing power together with totally linear access to the memory, which would improve the floating point commands to accelerate matemathical processing. The Graphics evolve from pallets to 16 colours EGA and 256 colours VGA. Storage is improved with the use of 10 and 20MB hard drives. This led to a massification of notebooks selling due to the improved portability. The progress continued with the introduction of the 80486 and Motorola’s equivalent for Apple the Motorola 68040 . It was a time of enormous progress, perhaps the biggest for a time lapse and the family of processors based in the 80486 expanded and upgraded to the following:

  • i486SL-NM: i486SL based on i486SX
  • IntelRapidCAD: a specially packaged Intel 486DX and a dummy floating point unit (FPU) designed as pin-compatible replacements for an Intel 80386 processor and 80387 FPU.
  • i487SX (P23N): i486DX with one extra pin sold as an FPU upgrade to i486SX systems; When the i487SX was installed it ensured an i486SX was present on the motherboard but disabled it, taking over all of its functions.
  • i486 OverDrive (P23T/P24T): i486SX, i486SX2, i486DX2 or i486DX4.

Intel dropped the 80 in the “80487”, which was called  i487SX (P23N) and was marketed as a floating point unit coprocessor for Intel i486SX machines, because of Court ruling. The next family would have a Latin name, Pentium, which would be the new naming system Intel adopted. A 50 MHz 80486 executes around 40 million instructions per second on average and is able to reach 50 MIPS peak performance. The Pentium machines would reach 300 MHZ in the near future. It was also introduced the Pentium MMX,  designed to run faster when playing multimedia applications. According to Intel, a PC with this processor runs a multimedia application up to 60% faster than one with having the same clock speed but without MMX.
1994 saw the appearance of a new player in the computer games industry: Sony, which brooke up a Nintendo  partnership. Sony introduced its Playstation, under a architecture breakthrough: RISC, powered by its 32 bits processor R3000A, which runs at 32MHZ. It became possible for the first time the processing of polygons in 3 dimensions with only 2MB of memory.
In the 1994-1996 the Internet changed from a scientific and governmental research network to a commercial and consumer marketplace and exploded. IBM ruled the market and Apple almost went bankrupt, re inventing itself with the new iMac, very strong in graphics applications. Windows introduces the 98e and Apple invests in verticalization of its iOS System in all of their platforms. MP3 music compression format is born, together with the DVD, with its high video compression storage technology.

2000’s to 2010’s

64 bits architecture sets in and video games expands to 64 bits. Intel takes over with its Pentium and Celeron chips  with speeds up to 1GHZ. Storage goes up in the gigabyte sizes with DVD’s reaching their peak at 84GB with two layers of storage. RAM memories expands to 1 & 2 GB. Notebooks became even smaller and their batteries stand up to more hours than ever. IDE comes to an end and USB takes over.IDE to USB

Apple releases its iPhone with their cortex processors. iMacs use their series A processors.
Storage devices start disappearing going solid state, such as Pen Drives  and HDD’s. 
New video games platforms come up, such as SEGA Dreamcast ( Hitachi Architecture SH4), Playstation 2 (Still with Risc5900 now called Emotion Engine, with a 300MHz speed) and Nintendo 64 (NEC VR 100MHZ).
Sega Dreamcast was a 128 bit machine and there were doubts if it really was so. Take a look at this video about it.
Microsoft launches itsXbox for games, with a 32 bits Intel processor on a 700MHZ clock, which is essentially a PC. Performance now is measured under the floating point criteria. Blue Ray DVD’s come to existence together with 50 GB HD SVD, with two layers, managing 1080 Full HD images.

Cathode Ray Tube screen TV’s come to an end replaced by Large Screen Television Technology. Internet speed goes up in the Megabyte class allowing large scale use in new fashion network social programs such as Facebook ,WhatsApp and many others, etc. Not to mention that pre recorded media such as movies goes up to the clouds with 1080 P Full HD quality. The Personal Computer Division of IBM is bought by the Chinese Lenovo and the IBM logo disappear from Thinkpad. IBM follows up announcing that now it is a service dedicated company and no longer a Computer Manufacturing Organization. Arcades come to an end, being the technology used in PC’s or dedicated platforms managing to bring up similar quality. Microsoft introduces its most popular Windows ever, the XP. Wifi and Bluetooth takes over in the streaming scene.

2010’s on to 2020’s

Decade of Mobility – Giants announce the end or decline of their manufacturing operations.  In 1965, manufacturing accounted for 53 percent of the economy. By 1988 it only accounted for 39 percent, and in 2004, it accounted for just 9 percent.
It is not different in the computer business including cell phones, once that they became miniaturized computers capable of doing anything the big computers of some decades ago use to do.
Lenovo buysMotorola. Take a look why. Nokia is bought by Microsoft . Take a look why. Microsoft tries unsuccessfully to launch the Windows platform in the cell phone scene. Apple launches iPad and Touch Screen. Samsumg and Apple dominates 90% of the cell phone market. Digital technology mobility becomes available with the advent of 3G. Motorola goes touch screen with its Surface Technology.
CD’s and DVD’s renting model of business is terminated.
Blockbuster goes out of business. Norway announces that it will shut down its FM network.
Cloud based computing takes over. Radio Shack goes bankrupt. Steve Jobs dies. Apple becomes the mos valuable brand in the planet.
The video games market is left to three companies: Sony and its Playstation 4, Microsoft and its Xbox One and Nintendo “kind of lost” between its WiiU sales fiasco and its new Switch concept. 4K Technology comes to TV with its 4096 lines of resolution.
Electric cars not only are succeeding, such as Tesla, but are the only way with Volvo announcing the ending of its internal combustion engines being completely replaced by electrical ones by 2020. Cars become more “intelligent” with embarked technology. This is where we stand now and a perfect way to peek in to the future is the January 2016 issue of Motor Trend, when they announced their coveted Car, Truck, SUV and person of the year, from which I separated the report on the Google self-driving car (SDC).

Who is going to drive?






Take a look how it was and what has been moved by Internet

Timeline looks like that

Let’s start as it is today (2016). My idea about Internet: It is composed of three dimensions which allows us to examine it under three points of view:









internet cultural 01.jpg


In Marshall McLuhan’s genial expression, “Global Village” is the perfect metaphor to describe how technology, the age of instant communications and increasing integration among the states will eventually shrink the world to such an extent that commercial, social, and cultural relations, although being on the other side of the earth can be made as easily as if we lived in the same village.

The most obvious dimension and the one has the biggest exposure is the cultural wich enable the coming of existence of the social networks, which as a concept can be explored in many ways, but the one which interest us is the one connected with the Internet, generally referred as social media, such as Facebook and Whatsapp and Linkdln and Youtube today (2016) and I say so, because these things are extremely volatile and if you look carefully, these four examples are completely different in their nature and I will elaborate more on that connecting with the ideas of this paper.

I would mention two examples: Altavista which was initially the Google and Orkut, which featured one of the most important aspect of Facebook: to find old friends.

Rational discussion on the subject through conventional text method is extremely boring and leads to nowhere for practical effects, which is one of the main concerns of the design of this paper as a whole and I mention it to make a point:

Internet is the use you make of it! (as anything else as matter of fact…)

In our case, I decided (and it is not necessarily so) that the most interesting aspect of Internet is the effect on the Map of Knowledge


Physics, light purple, Chemistry, blue,, biology, green, medicine, red, social sciences, yellow, humanities, white, mathematics purple, engineering, pink.

A new map of knowledge has been put together by scientists at the research library of the Los Alamos National Laboratory.It is based on electronic data searches in which users moved from one publication to another, establishing associations between them.

The map includes sciences and humanities, in a hub and wheel arrangement, with the humanities and the sciences in the center arranged around it. The arrangement came up naturally from the data and is not invented, said Johan Bollen, the leader of the research team.

On the map, published in the current edition of “PLoS One”, publications are color coded as follows: physics, light purple, Chemistry, blue, biology, green, medicine, red, social sciences, yellow, humanities, white, mathematics, purple, engineering, pink. Interconnecting lines reflect the probability of a reader clicks of a publication to another on a computer screen.

Similar maps have been constructed based on footnotes in published articles that refer to articles in other magazines. Dr. Bollen believes that his map, click scholars represents the best electronic behavior “that makes the citation analysis, note how the method is called.

One reason is that footnotes are often added to a variety of social reasons, such as to flatter the commentators so one can improve his own citation count or impress colleagues with a range of reading. Clicks represent real scholars use information. In addition, clicks capture access to an article to use it for practical purposes, instead of just following the quote, Dr. Bollen said.

A reader can click on a publication to another based on many other connections besides citations as a text search or an e-mail message, Dr. Bollen said.
“What we have is a map of the world scientific activity,” said Dr. Bollen. He wants to make its data publicly available to scholars to evaluate the impact of their or other items and the degree of influence of scientific journals.

Think carefully in what is discussed above and decide whether if you want to be a tattooed youtuber orienting millions of other tattooed facebook followers whether they should “like” or “dislike” the latest ephemeral, transient, fleeting, frail, perishing trend (or meal, or picture) or if you want to leave your mark somewhere in the map of knowledge, where it really counts to have something .