Significant Number Factoid Friday – Today The Number Is Sixty-Four 64

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”


Another significant numbers day.

In case you are wondering these numbers are picked quite randomly. Only after it makes itself known does the search start for things associated with it.

Sometimes there is a lot, sometimes not so much. Sixty-four seems to be a well used number so a lot of information below.

If you are into numbers, enjoy.



The Number Sixty-Four  64




In religion

  • The 64th word of the King James Version of the Bible’s Old Testament Genesis is “light”;
  • King David prays for deliverance from his enemies in the 64th Psalm;
  • The 64 Dakinis or Yoginis are 8 Mother goddesses each with 8 attendants in India religious traditions; each of the 64 can be further correlated to the currents or winds of the human “etheric” body;
  • The Lord Shiva has 64 forms or manifestations.




In mathematics

  • Sixty-four is the square of 8, the cube of 4, and the sixth power of 2;
  • Sixty-four is the smallest number with exactly seven divisors;
  • Sixty-four is the lowest positive power of two that is adjacent to neither a Mersenne prime nor a Fermat prime;
  • Sixty-four  is the sum of Euler’s totient function for the first fourteen integers;
  • Sixty-four is also a dodecagonal number and a centered triangular number;
  • In base 10, no integer added up to its own digits yields 64, hence it is a self number;
  • Sixty-four is a super-perfect number – a number such that s(s(n))=2n.


  • Base64
  • Base64 is a group of similar binary-to-text encoding schemes that represent binary data in an ASCII string format by translating it into a radix-64 representation. The term Base64 originates from a specific MIME content transfer encoding.
  • Base64 encoding schemes are commonly used when there is a need to encode binary data that needs to be stored and transferred over media that are designed to deal with textual data. This is to ensure that the data remain intact without modification during transport.
  • Base64 is commonly used in a number of applications including email via MIME, and storing complex data in XML.


  • Graham’s number
  • Graham’s number, named after Ronald Graham, is unimaginably larger than other well-known large numbers such as a googol, googolplex, and even larger than Skewes’ number and Moser’s number.
  • The number gained a degree of popular attention when Martin Gardner described it in the “Mathematical Games” section of Scientific American in November 1977, writing that, “In an unpublished proof, Graham has recently established … a bound so vast that it holds the record for the largest number ever used in a serious mathematical proof.” The 1980 Guinness Book of World Records repeated Gardner’s claim, adding to the popular interest in this number.
  • Specific integers known to be far larger than Graham’s number have since appeared in many serious mathematical proofs (e.g., in connection with Friedman’s various finite forms of Kruskal’s theorem).




In Computing

  • 64-bit
  • In computer architecture, 64-bit computing is the use of processors that have datapath widths, integer size, and memory addresses of 64 bits (eight octets) wide. Also, 64-bit CPU and ALU architectures are those that are based on registers, address buses, or data buses of that size. From the software perspective, 64-bit computing means the use of code with 64-bit virtual memory addresses

64 bit is the future


  • Commodore 64
  • The Commodore 64, commonly called C64, CBM 64 (for Commodore Business Machines), or VIC-64, is an 8-bit home computer introduced in January 1982 by Commodore International.
  • Volume production started in the spring of 1982, with machines being released on to the market in August at a price of US$595.
  • Preceded by the Commodore VIC-20 and Commodore PET, the C64 took its name from its 64 kilobytes (65,536 bytes) of RAM, and had favorable sound and graphical specifications when compared to contemporary systems such as the Apple II, at a price that was well below the circa US$ 1200 demanded by Apple.
  • For a substantial period (1983–1986), the C64 dominated the market with between 30% and 40% share and 2 million units sold per year, outselling the IBM PC compatibles, Apple Inc. computers, and Atari 8-bit family computers.
  • Sam Tramiel, a later Atari president and the son of Commodore’s founder, said in a 1989 interview “When I was at Commodore we were building 400,000 C64s a month for a couple of years.”

C64 computer


  • Dragon 64
  • The Dragon 32 and Dragon 64 are home computers that were built in the 1980s. The Dragons are very similar to the TRS-80 Color Computer (CoCo), and were produced for the European market by Dragon Data, Ltd., in Port Talbot, Wales, and for the US market by Tano of New Orleans, Louisiana.
  • The model numbers reflect the primary difference between the two machines, which have 32 and 64 kilobytes of RAM, respectively.

Dragon-64 computer




In science

  • Sixty-four is the Atomic Number of Gadolinium (Gd), discovered by Jean de Marignac 1880 (Switzerland), and named after the mineral gadolinite;
  • Sixty-four is the Atomic Weight of Copper (Cu).
  • There are 64 codons in the RNA codon table under genetic code.




In space

  • Messier object M64, is a magnitude 9.0 galaxy in the constellation Coma Berenices, also known as the Black Eye Galaxy;
  • The New General Catalogue object NGC 64, a barred spiral galaxy in the constellation Cetus;
  • WOH G64 is a red hypergiant in the Large Magellanic Cloud. With 1540 times the radius of the Sun, it is one of the largest known stars and the largest known in the LMC. The physical parameters are still poorly known due to the distance, visual faintness, several solar masses of shrouding dust, and the possibility of a bright hot companion.



  • STS-64
  • STS-64 was a Space Shuttle Discovery mission, launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on 9 September 1994, to perform multiple experiment packages.
  • STS-64 marked the first flight of Lidar In-space Technology Experiment (LITE) and first untethered U.S. extravehicular activity (EVA) in 10 years. LITE payload employs lidar, which stands for “light detection and ranging”, a type of optical radar using laser pulses instead of radio waves to study Earth’s atmosphere.
  • On day five of the mission, the Shuttle Pointed Autonomous Research Tool for Astronomy-201 (SPARTAN-201) free flyer was released using the Remote Manipulator System arm.
  • STS-64 was the first mission to see the use of the new full-pressure Advanced Crew Escape Suit, which eventually replaced the partial-pressure Launch Entry Suit.





In politics

  • Department of State Form DS-64 is the one US Citizens need if they lose or have your passport stolen;
  • Department of Labor Chapter 64 regulates the employment of workers with disabilities at special wages;
  • In the United States presidential election of 1964, held on Tuesday, November 3, 1964, Democratic candidate and incumbent President Lyndon B. Johnson who had come to office less than a year earlier following the assassination of his predecessor, John F. Kennedy, and who had successfully associated himself with Kennedy’s popularity, won 61.1% of the popular vote, the highest won by a candidate since 1820.

United States presidential election  1964

  • In Chinese the “Six Four Incident” refers to Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.





In sport

  • There are 64 teams participating in the NCAA Basketball Tournament;
  • In chess or draughts, there are a total of 64 black (dark) and white (light) squares on the game board;
  • The Knight’s Tour of a chessboard is a sequence of moves by a knight so that each of the 64 squares is visited only once. The numbers of the knight’s moves form a magic square where each row and column adds up to 260;
  • 64 is the name of the premier Russian chess magazine;
  • NFL Hall of Famers with jersey #64 include Dave Wilcox, Linebacker (Boise Junior College, Oregon) and 1964-1974 San Francisco 49ers; George Blanda, Quarterback-Kicker, 1949, 1950-58 Chicago Bears, 1950 Baltimore Colts, 1960-66 Houston Oilers, 1967-1975 Oakland Raiders; Joe Delamielleure, Guard, 1973-1979, 1985 Buffalo Bills, 1980-1984 Cleveland Browns; Randall McDaniel, Guard, 1988-1999 Minnesota Vikings, 2000-01 Tampa Bay Buccaneers; Y.A. Tittle, Quarterback, 1948-1950 Baltimore Colts (AAFC/NFL), 1951-1960 San Francisco 49ers, 1961-1964 New York Giants.

Y A Tittle

  • In the National Hockey League, jersey #64 is used by James Robert McGinn IV is a Canadian professional ice hockey player currently playing for the Colorado Avalanche.

James McGinn




In books, movies, music and TV

  • The $64,000 Question is an American game show broadcast from 1955–1958, which became embroiled in the scandals involving TV quiz shows of the day. The $64,000 Challenge (1956–1958) was its popular spin-off show.
  • When I’m 64 is a song by John Lennon & Paul McCartney from The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album (1967).




In militaria

  • HMS Vansittart
  • HMS Vansittart was an Admiralty modified W class destroyer built for the Royal Navy. She was ordered in January 1918 from William Beardmore & Company with the 13th Order for Destroyers of the Emergency War Program of 1918-19. She was the second Royal Navy ship to carry the name which was first used in 1821 for a hired packet.

HMS_Vansittart (D64)


  • HMS Beverley (H 64)
  • Completed in July 1920 as USS Branch (DD 197) for the US Navy, on 8 Oct, 1940 she was transferred to the Royal Navy and renamed HMS Beverley (H 64).
  • On 9 Apr, 1943, during WWII convoy duty in the North Atlantic, HMS Beverley had been seriously damaged in a collision with the British steam merchant Cairnvalona and had taken station in the rear of the convoy. When it was subsequenty attaced by a German U-Boat, U-188, 30 hours later she was hit by torpedos and sunk. HMS Clover (K 134) (Lt P.H. Grieves, RNR) later picked up five survivors and recovered two bodies, but one of the survivors later died on board.



  • HMS Fencer (D64)
  • The USS Croatan (CVE-14) (originally AVG-14 then ACV-14) was transferred to the United Kingdom on 20 February 1943 under lend-lease where she served as HMS Fencer (D64). As an anti-submarine warfare carrier, Fencer escorted Atlantic, Russian and African convoys, even participating in a strike on the German battleship Tirpitz before being transferred to the Pacific.
  • Following World War II, she returned to the United States 21 December 1946, stricken for disposal on 28 January 1947 and sold into merchant service 30 December as Sydney.
  • The ship went through a series of renamings, first to Roma in 1967, then Galaxy Queen in 1970, Lady Dina in 1972 and finally Caribia in 1973 before being scrapped in Spezia in September 1975.



  • HMS Scorpion (D64)
  • HMS Scorpion (D64) was a Weapon-class destroyer of the British Royal Navy. Originally named HMS Centaur, the ship was renamed Tomahawk and finally Scorpion (in September 1943) before her launch.
  • Scorpion was the only Weapon-class ship fitted with the Limbo depth charge mortar rather than the older Squid.
  • In 1953 she took part in the Fleet Review to celebrate the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

HMS Scorpion D64


  • HMS Theseus (R64)
  • HMS Theseus (R64) was a Colossus-class light fleet aircraft carrier of the Royal Navy, launched on 6 July 1944.
  • Theseus was laid down to serve in the Second World War, but was not completed before peace was declared in 1945. She was utilized as a training vessel until the outbreak of the Korean War when she was deployed to Korea, commencing standard carrier operations.
  • In 1956, Theseus was used as an emergency commando carrier, along with her sister-ship Ocean, during the Suez Crisis. From November to December, helicopters from Theseus transported troops ashore, as well as evacuating wounded soldiers. Compared to her actions during the Korean War, her role at Suez was relatively quiet. The following year she was placed in reserve. She was subsequently broken up at Inverkeithing in 1962.

HMS Theseus (R64)


  • USS Wisconsin (BB-64)
  • The USS Wisconsin (BB-64), “Wisky” or “WisKy”, is an Iowa-class battleship, the second ship of the United States Navy to be named in honor of the U.S. state of Wisconsin. She was launched on 7 December 1943 (the second anniversary of the Pearl Harbor raid).
  • During her career, Wisconsin served in the Pacific Theater of World War II, where she shelled Japanese fortifications and screened United States aircraft carriers as they conducted air raids against enemy positions.
  • During the Korean War, Wisconsin shelled North Korean targets in support of United Nations and South Korean ground operations, after which she was decommissioned.
  • She was reactivated 1 August 1986, modernised and participated in Operation Desert Storm in January and February 1991.
  • Wisconsin was last decommissioned in September 1991, having earned a total of six battle stars for service in World War II and Korea, as well as a Navy Unit Commendation for service during the January/February 1991 Gulf War.
  • She currently functions as a museum ship operated by Nauticus, The National Maritime Center in Norfolk, Virginia. .



  • USS Constellation (CV-64)
  • The USS Constellation (CV-64), a Kitty Hawk–class supercarrier, was the third ship of the United States Navy to be named in honor of the “new constellation of stars” on the flag of the United States and the only naval vessel ever authorized to display red, white, and blue designation numbers.
  • One of the fastest ships in the Navy, as proven by her victory during a battlegroup race held in 1985, she was nicknamed “Connie” by her crew and officially as “America’s Flagship”.
  • She was launched 8 October 1960 and delivered to the Navy 1 October 1961, and commissioned 27 October 1961, with Captain T. J. Walker in command. At that time, she had cost about US$264.5 million. Constellation was the last U.S. aircraft carrier (as of 2010) to be built at a yard other than Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Company.



  • USS Gettysburg (CG-64)
  • The USS Gettysburg (CG-64) is a Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser in the United States Navy, built at the Bath Iron Works in Maine and named for the Battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War.
  • With her guided missiles and rapid-fire cannons, she is capable of facing and defeating threats in the air, on the sea, or ashore, and underneath the sea. She also carries two Seahawk LAMPS multi-purpose helicopters, but mainly for anti-submarine warfare (ASW).
  • She is based in Mayport, Florida.



  • U-64
  • The first U-64 was a Type U-63 class submarine in the Kaiserliche Marine that served during World War I. She was built in 1916 and served in the Mediterranean Sea.
  • On 19 March 1917, while on patrol in the Tyrrhenian Sea, U-64 torpedoed and sank the French battleship Danton 30 miles south of Sardinia, with the loss of 296 men. She herself was lost on 17 June 1918.

u_64_u_63_type_u_boot 1915-1918


  • In 1937 another German submarine U-64, a Type IXB U-boat of the Nazi German Kriegsmarine, was ordered in July 1937 and launched in September 1939.
  • This U-64 had a very short career and sank no enemy vessels. Having left her home port of Wilhelmshaven for her first war patrol on 6 April 1940, she was intercepted by Allied aircraft seven days later off the coast of Norway during the invasion of that country and was sunk by a bomb from a Fairey Swordfish aircraft of HMS Warspite. Of her crew of 46, eight men died and 38 escaped from the sinking submarine.


  • K-64
  • The K-64 Designation was first given to the first Alfa Class Submarine, launched on April 22, 1969.
  • In 1972, the submarine suffered a major reactor problem in the form of a leak of liquid metal coolant. The superheated metal solidified on contact with the colder outside air, freezing and damaging internal components of the reactor. She was removed from service and towed to Severodvinsk.
  • The K-64 designation was again given to a Delta IV class submarine launched on February 2, 1986 as the fourth ship of its class, entered in service in the Russian Northern Fleet. The sub was laid down in December 1982 and was built at Sevmash plant in Severodvinsk.
  • This ship is still in active service.

Soviet submarine K-64


  • P-64
  • P-64 was the designation assigned by the United States Army Air Corps (USAAC) to the North American Aviation NA-68 fighter, an upgraded variant of the NA-50 developed during the late 1930s.
  • Six NA-68s ordered by the Royal Thai Air Force were seized before export by the US government in 1941, after the Franco-Thai War and growing ties between Thailand and the Empire of Japan. These aircraft were used by the USAAC as unarmed fighter trainers.
  • Seven NA-50s were purchased by the Peruvian Air Force, which nicknamed it Torito (“Little Bull”). The Peruvian NA-50s subsequently saw action during the Ecuadorian-Peruvian War of 1941.



  • The Grumman G-64/111 Albatross
  • The Albatross is easily the largest of Grumman’s series of utility amphibians, and was the only one originally developed specifically for military service.
  • The Albatross resulted from a late 1940s US Navy requirement for a general purpose amphibious transport. The first Albatross prototype flew for the first time on October 24 1947, with more than 400 production HU-16s subsequently delivered to the US Navy, US Coast Guard and 12 other nations. Military Albatross missions included general reconnaissance, maritime patrol, anti submarine warfare (in which role it could be armed with torpedoes and depth charges) and search and rescue.
  • In the late 1970s, Grumman and major US flying boat operator Resorts International began work on a program to convert the Albatross for civil airline service. The conversion incorporated numerous changes to the basic Albatross, including a 28 seat passenger interior, a galley and provision for a flight attendant, upgraded avionics and other improved systems.
  • In all only 13 aircraft were converted, 12 for Resorts International, and 1 for Conoco Oil/Pelita which operated from Singapore. Several of these are still active, together with ex military examples.

Grumman albatross


  • AH-64 Apache
  • The Boeing AH-64 Apache is a four-blade, twin-engine attack helicopter with a tailwheel-type landing gear arrangement, and a tandem cockpit for a two-man crew.
  • Originally, the Apache started life as the Model 77 developed by Hughes Helicopters for the United States Army’s Advanced Attack Helicopter program to replace the AH-1 Cobra, and was first flown on 30 September 1975.
  • The AH-64 was introduced to U.S. Army service in April 1986.
  • The AH-64 Apache features a nose-mounted sensor suite for target acquisition and night vision systems; is armed with a 30-millimeter (1.2 in) M230 Chain Gun carried between the main landing gear, under the aircraft’s forward fuselage; and has four hardpoints mounted on stub-wing pylons, typically carrying a mixture of AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and Hydra 70 rocket pods. The AH-64 has a large amount of systems redundancy to improve combat survivability.
  • The first production AH-64D Apache Longbow, an upgraded version of the original Apache, was delivered to the Army in March 1997. Production has been continued by Boeing Defense, Space & Security; over 1,000 AH-64s have been produced to date.
  • The U.S. Army is the primary operator of the AH-64; it has also become the primary attack helicopter of multiple nations, including Greece, Japan, Israel, the Netherlands and Singapore; as well as being produced under license in the United Kingdom as the AgustaWestland Apache. U.S. AH-64s have served in conflicts in Panama, the Persian Gulf, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Israel used the Apache in its military conflicts in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip; both British and U.S. Apaches have seen deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq.



  • Sikorsky S-64 Skycrane
  • The Sikorsky S-64 Skycrane is an American twin-engine heavy-lift helicopter, the civil version of the United States Army’s CH-54 Tarhe. The S-64 Aircrane is the current production version, manufactured by the Erickson Air-Crane company.
  • Erickson Air-Crane purchased the type certificate and manufacturing rights in 1992 and since that date they have become the manufacturer and world’s largest operator of S-64 Aircranes. The Aircrane can be fitted with a 2,650-gallon (~10,000 litre) fixed retardant tank to assist in the control of bush fires, and it has proved itself admirably in this role.
  • Erickson is manufacturing new S-64s, as well as remanufacturing existing CH-54s, with each being assigned an individual name, the best-known being “Elvis”, used in fighting fires in Australia alongside “The Incredible Hulk” and “Isabelle”.
  • Other operators, such as Siller Brothers, have followed with their Sikorsky S-64E, Andy’s Pride. The Erickson S-64E nicknamed “Olga” was used to lift the top section of the CN Tower into place in Toronto, Canada.
  • The S-64 is the first helicopter built with a rear-facing pilot’s seat—this allows the pilot to watch exactly where the load is being placed as he’s flying the helicopter. The feature came in handy in 1993, when an S-64 removed and replaced the Statue of Freedom from the US Capitol building during a renovation. When transporting a big load like that, the S-64 uses an anti-rotation rigging system that prevents the aircraft from twisting and swaying.

Sikorsky S64


  • T-64
  • The T-64 is a Soviet main battle tank, introduced in the early 1960s. It was a more advanced counterpart to the T-62: the T-64 served tank divisions, while the T-62 supported infantry in motor rifle divisions. Although the T-62 and the famed T-72 would see much wider use and generally more development, it was the T-64 that formed the basis of more modern Soviet tank designs like the T-80.

T-64 tank


  • W64 nuclear warhead
  • The W64 nuclear warhead was the Los Alamos Laboratory’s entry into a brief competition between Lawrence Livermore Laboratory and Los Alamos to design an “enhanced-radiation” nuclear warhead (i.e., a “neutron bomb”) for the United States Army’s MGM-52 Lance tactical surface-to-surface missile.
  • The Los Alamos design, the W64, was canceled in September 1964 in favor of Livermore’s W63. In November 1966, the W63 was canceled in favor of the W70, the model that finally entered production.


  • L64
  • The L64 was an intermediate calibre British bullpup layout prototype assault rifle developed in the 1970s. The British Army had considered bullpup designs with intermediate calibre rounds in the 1950s, and officially adopted one of these as .280 British in 1951 in the EM-2 and Taden gun. However, US intransigence during NATO standardization efforts, and Winston Churchill’s interest in standards above all, led to the adoption of the significantly more powerful 7.62×51mm NATO round and the British and Canadian armies adopted the L1A1 SLR, a licensed version of the FN FAL, itself originally designed for the .280.
  • In the late 1960s a new L64/65 “Individual Weapon” was developed, outwardly similar to the earlier EM-2, but adopted a firing mechanism very similar to ArmaLite’s latest AR-18 design. The first examples were available in 1972.
  • By 1976, NATO was ready to standardize on a small calibre round, and testing of the various rounds head-to-head started in 1977. As designed, the British round out-performed the standard US 5.56 mm. However Fabrique Nationale’s entry based on the 5.56 mm, the “SS-109” performed as well as the British cartridge. In the end it was selected largely due to its similarity with existing US ammunition.
  • The L64 pattern was later developed into the SA80 family of weapons, which entered service with the UK in the 1980s.



  • P-64 Pistol
  • The P-64 is a Polish 9mm semi-automatic pistol designed to fire the 9x18mm Makarov cartridge. The pistol was developed in the late 1950s at the Institute for Artillery Research, which later became the Military Institute of Armament Technology.

P64 pistol




In other fields

  • Cities situated on longtitude 64 degree west are:  Charlotte Amalie,  US Virgin Islands; Hamilton,  Bermuda; Road Town,  British Virgin Islands; and Córdoba, Argentina.
  • Cities situated on latitude 64 north are:  Fairbanks, Alaska; Skellefteå, Sweden; Anadyr and Arkhangelsk, Russia; Nuuk (Godthåb), Greenland; and Reykjavík, Iceland.
  • There are 64 gems in total number in a standard Bejeweled game board.
  • 64 is the code for international direct dial calls to New Zealand.
  • There are 64 Braille characters in the old 6-dot system.
  • Since 1996, the number 64 has been an abbreviation or slang for Nintendo 64 (though N64 is more common) along with the games Super Mario 64, Mario Kart 64 and more.


  • 64 is the maximum number of strokes in any Chinese character.
  • There are 64 hexagrams in the I Ching.
  • There are 64 sexual positions in the Kama Sutra.
  • There are 64 demons in the Dictionnaire Infernal.
  • There are 64 classical arts listed in many Indian scriptures. They include: singing, dancing, painting, poetry, playing cards, making arguments, making flower garlands, etc.
  • The 64th French department is Pyrénées-Atlantiques.
  • Unsurprisingly it is the number of crayons in the popular Crayola 64 pack.
  • 64 is the maximum stack size in the popular game Minecraft.
  • 64 (dog) is a character in the Donald Duck comics universe.
  • Number of golden disks in the myth of the Tower of Hanoi.
  • The S64-1.25 MW has a well-suited ratio of rotor diameter to generator for most sites in a medium wind speed regime. The wind turbine concept is based on robust design and is efficiently handled by the Suzlon controller. These technologies are all well-known in the wind power industry and have proven themselves over time.


  • PARALOID B-64 solid grade acrylic resin provides an outstanding combination of hardness, flexibility, and adhesion to various substrates. This general-purpose resin permits wider latitude in formulating in solvents that are suitable for specific applications.
  • Group f/64 was a group of seven 20th century San Francisco photographers who shared a common photographic style characterized by sharp-focused and carefully framed images seen through a particularly Western (U.S.) viewpoint. In part, they formed in opposition to the Pictorialist photographic style that had dominated much of the early 20th century, but moreover they wanted to promote a new Modernist aesthetic that was based on precisely exposed images of natural forms and found objects.
  • 64 is the slang term referring to a 1964 Chevrolet Impala, often configured as a lowrider, a popular subject among early-90’s gangsta rap.

1964_chevrolet_impala_ss_convertible front_view




A Long Love Affair

“Flight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”


Yesterday’s post was really about a couple of funny helpline incidents. But by way of introducing it I started to talk about my love affair and history with computers. Well I didn’t stop thinking about that when I finished yesterday’s blog post and so another post was born.

I hope you find this at least a little bit interesting. Obviously I do because I lived through it. To younger readers I’m sure it won’t mean much, but maybe they can have a laugh at the archaic crap that at the time we all thought was just the greatest thing ever – and actually at the time so it was.

As I said yesterday, my first experiences with computers were on the big mainframes. We had them in university and quite honestly the stuff we were doing on them in those days you could probably do on a good scientific calculator now. But there we were punching cards and working out mathematical formulae and getting results that I’m sure no one understood or cared about but us. (I probably wouldn’t even understand them now either!)

Here are a couple of pictures of the big machines. Younger readers will note the handy compact hard disks used to store information!

Hard Drive
Hard Drives In The Good Old Days


Compare the size with one of today’s disks

Yesterday and Today
Yesterday and Today


My first tussle with the big boys was on something resembling this



And we inputted our data via either these punch cards

IBM Punch Card
IBM Punch Card


Or via these teletype machines that I called the “chuggers” in yesterday’s post (notice the paper tape at the left hand side that made everything work!)

teletype computer interface
teletype computer interface


Then the personal computer era began.

My first introduction to that was a Commodore PET. It was around 1977 or 1978, I think. A fellow student and friend of mine at the time, a Malaysian Chinese guy who’s family were super rich (I don’t think he ever told them the proper exchange rate so his monthly allowance was huge!) bought one of the first of these machines and he loaned it to me for a few days when he was away on vacation.

I was enthralled. Dear knows why. If you look at the video at the end of this post you’ll see just how basic the technology was.

But ignorance is bliss. There was nothing better around.

The Commodore PET
The Commodore PET


Needless to say I could not afford a Commodore PET, nor for that matter an Apple II which was making its debut at more or less the same time and was vastly overpriced as Apple stuff still is. In it’s defense the Apple II was a cut above the norm even in those days as regards looks and it had a floppy drive (which I think you had to buy as an optional extra) instead of the awful cassette tapes.

The Apple II System
The Apple II System


But something that I could afford was the budget priced, but very, very basic Sinclair ZX81. To call it a computer nowadays is a bit of a joke, it had little or no memory, you needed a cassette tape deck, and a television to help it along, and it hadn’t even a real keyboard. But it did come in kit form and was fun to build and do basic Basic programming on.

Sinclair ZX81
Sinclair ZX81


Of course my thirst for bigger and better machines was only getting started. Next I was on to something called a Dragon 32, which as the name implied had a massive 32k of memory  –  yes, you young ‘uns, I said 32k, as in kilo  –  of memory. There was talk at the time that the company were working on a 64k version, but hardly anyone believed that a machine with such a vast memory was possible or even desirable!

The Dragon 32 was another one fired up by a cassette tape and a tv screen connection, but it was okay for learing more programming skills and there were plenty of games available that amused everyone at the time.

The Dragon 32 with a massive 32k of memory!
The Dragon 32 with a massive 32k of memory!


Then for me came an epiphany, computer-wise. I was about to put my trusty, and maybe a little rusty, typewriter aside. I bought an Amstrad 8256 word processor. It allegedly could handle other tasks as well, but it was primarily a word-processing machine and it did that job pretty well and reliably using its inbuilt Logoscript software. You could store letters and documents on its floppy disks and it had its own printer as part of the bundle. All in all a good piece of kit for the time.

The Amstrad 8256 Wordprocessor
The Amstrad 8256 Word-processor


A while after that the whole game changed. And the game changer was the graphical user interface, GUI, and the mouse.

DOS was dead. We would no longer have to plow our way through screens like this

DOS type screen interface
DOS type screen interface


The Xerox 8010 Star Information System in 1981 was the first to use it.

Xerox Star 8010
Xerox Star 8010


But Xerox didn’t see the potential and didn’t capitalize on it.  Steve Jobs and Apple did, and the Mackintosh released in about 1984 was the first to perfect its use commercially. It was a major change and brought computing into the reach of ordinary people instead of just the computer nerds and geeks.

The Apple Macintosh
The Apple Macintosh


Microsoft Windows soon dominated the PC end of the market with their 3.1 version doing a reasonably good job. Later versions like Windows 95, 98 and the appalling ME versions were rushed out and unstable. And, having learned nothing they followed that with a similarly unprepared Vista. All that did nothing for the reputation of the company.

They have made a lot of ground up with Windows 7 and 8 which seem to be a lot better both with regard to stability and functionality. And nowadays if you really hate windows you can run PC machines in linux based operating systems, just look for the penguin.

linux logo
linux logo


From the mid 1980s the PC market exploded. Many companies large and small, from the IBMs to brand new budget manufacturers (or rather, assemblers) were born. They all did basically the same job, used the same internal hardware and software and had internal hard drives that would store up to 100MB (yes, mega bites) and up to 4MB of RAM.

At first they looked like this

PC version 1 - IBM-PC-XT1
PC version 1 – IBM-PC-XT1


And then this

PC version 2 - Fujitsu
PC version 2 – Fujitsu


And then this

PC modern generic desktop design
PC modern generic desktop design


I had versions like pictures two and three. In fact I still have one of what I’ve called the modern generic desktop design in my office today.  Of course the processing speeds and memory capacities of both the hard drives and the RAM have increased dramatically. Now it is not unusual to be able to buy a desktop computer with at least a terrabyte of hard drive storage and 8 GB (yes, giga bytes) of RAM, as well as extremely fast multi processors and large high definition flat screens.

All in all a great improvement. A lot of it not really necessary for the average user who just uses their computer for a bit of word processing and to surf the internet, but when it comes to computers most of us kinda have to have the best spec we can afford, rather than what we actually need.

And there was another revolution in computers. This one really took off during the late 1990s and it was the increasing popularity of the laptop. In earlier years the laptop had been the preserve of the business community and were priced accordingly,  usually well out of the reach of the average consumer. As well as that the spec was well below that of contemporary desktop machines and no one like to pay more for less.

Then a few things sort of coincided. We had the near saturation of the desktop market with a subsequent slowing down of new sales. The cost of component parts like processors and memory consequently dropped as demand tailed off. And some of the smarter manufacturers saw this as an opportunity to create a brand new market that would allow them to sell affordable laptops with a near desktop spec to the same market that had previously only been interested, and could only afford, the bigger desktop computers.

I seldom if ever use my desktop at all now. All my work is done on my laptop. When I travel it comes with me. I’m writing this blog post on one like this right now

ASUS laptop computer
ASUS laptop computer


ASUS is a good machine. But I’ve also had laptops from Toshiba, Sony, Acer and Dell and for me they all worked perfectly fine.

As for the future?

Who knows?

Now that Steve Jobs is no longer with us will someone else invent things that no one wants, and that no one needs, and sell it to them at inflated prices, while generating their love and gratitude for it? Maybe, but I doubt it. I think that Jobs was unique in that respect. He was in the right place at the right time and the right man to take advantage.

What I can envisage is the continued development of faster and better processing; better internet communication speeds with more mobility; infinite storage capacity in the “cloud”; greater integration of all the bits and bobs we have at our disposal; and easier operation of it all through more voice activated control.

The future I think will be every bit as interesting as the past. If some ballax with an EMP device doesn’t fry all our chips, that is!

I kept my old typewriter just in case.


Finally, some hysterical historical videos.




Commodore PET circa 1977



Apple II circa 1977


Sinclair ZX81


Amstrad ad circa 1985