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End of an era: NASA shuts down its last mainframe

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posted on Feb, 15 2012 @ 06:10 AM
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"This month marks the end of an era in NASA computing. Marshall Space Flight Center powered down NASA's last mainframe, the IBM Z9 Mainframe," Cureton said.



Today, they are the size of a refrigerator but in the old days, they were the size of a Cape Cod. Even though NASA has shut down its last one, there is still a requirement for mainframe capability in many other organizations.



The IBM system also had a staggeringly large amount of memory -- 4MB of main memory supplemented by 1MB of "ultra-high-speed thin-film memories."


Source

Actually I remember the IBM 360 well. We had on at one of my early work places and it was programmed with punch cards. I thought it was fascinating and eventually ended up as a programmer, in part because of the early introduction to these massive machines.

4MB main memory!!!! We laugh now but I also remember in 1981 the company I worked for got a state of the art hard disk drive! All our data was on 8" (I think I remember correctly) floppy disks and the storage was an array of 4 x 8" floppy dirves and the data was striped across the 180 Kb diskettes (or it may have been 320Kb, it was KB anyway). A sort of early RAID array.

Then we got this 5 MB Winchester disk. Wow! 5 Mb
I seriously thought there was absolutely no way we would ever fill this massive disk drive. It was about 2 ft square by the way and about 9" deep - a monster.

As I look at my 1 TB drive now I can only marvel at the way things have progressed.

 

One of the links off that article is this:
Japanese supercomputer first to clear 10 petaflops


"Flops" stands for floating-point operations per second and is a measure of how fast a supercomputer can perform mathematical calculations using the Linpack benchmark. The K Computer, at the Riken Advanced Institute for Computational Science in Japan, moved up from 8.16 petaflops, the score it used to reach the top of the twice-yearly supercomputer ranking last June, to 10.51 petaflops.

It reached the new top speed through being fully assembled, with all 705,024 of its Fujitsu Sparc64 processor cores running.


Sort of illustrates the current state of computer technology at the high end. Given another 20 years this will be a standard PC



edit on 15/2/2012 by PuterMan because: To add more "stuff" 'cos "stuff" is good.




posted on Feb, 15 2012 @ 06:15 AM
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I think about the huge leaps in the last 30 years, and I'm terrified to live in a world that is another 30 years older. Very sad day for NASA.



posted on Feb, 15 2012 @ 06:16 AM
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i think its the end of the giant old computers for nasa but i think in a year or 2 they will be back in operation. they could be shutting down just to update every thing they got, an idea atleast



posted on Feb, 15 2012 @ 06:17 AM
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reply to post by AnIntellectualRedneck
 


Yes I just added a bit about the Japanese computer. As I commented maybe 20 years we will see this on our PCs or Macs.

Scary really.



posted on Feb, 15 2012 @ 06:23 AM
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Amazing. Just think, they had supersomputers the size of buildings and today we carry the same amount of memory in something smaller than a child's finger nail.

Imagine you went back in time and gave them an 8gig mini-SD. Totally blow their minds.


 
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posted on Feb, 15 2012 @ 06:27 AM
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Sorry, just had to add. With the first moon landing, apparently, they had about as much computing power as an average cellphone.

So I was thinking. Somebody should write an app for that. Obviously it wont work, there's no disused and ready spaceship that you can just go plug it into. But it would be cool to say, ''I have an app for that...'' as soon as the subject comes up in conversation.


 
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posted on Feb, 15 2012 @ 06:39 AM
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Originally posted by Monkeygod333
Sorry, just had to add. With the first moon landing, apparently, they had about as much computing power as an average cellphone.

So I was thinking. Somebody should write an app for that. Obviously it wont work, there's no disused and ready spaceship that you can just go plug it into. But it would be cool to say, ''I have an app for that...'' as soon as the subject comes up in conversation.


 
Posted Via ATS Mobile: m.abovetopsecret.com
 



i thought it was as much as a calculator! either way why havent we been back?



posted on Feb, 15 2012 @ 06:53 AM
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I'm only 18(born in 1993) and i just with awe before the technological advance through the almost 20 years that i live.
I study Engineering and Programing,and i learn about how computers were and worked some years ago.I can just say that's it's awesome and scary this fast advancement.Awesome because it's the proof than mankind can do miracles,and scary because we will be unable to have our own era.Everythig happens so quick,companies are trying to build something better that a product of an other company,and we,consumers,just stand in the middle,watching everything passing us by,unable to catch up because as soon ass we do,something better will be producted and we will be "outdated" again.



posted on Feb, 15 2012 @ 07:07 AM
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reply to post by ereveton
 


If you go back to just 3 years before I was born (back to about 1945) the ENIAC computer was programmed with wires not punch cards.

ENIAC


The ENIAC was not a stored-program computer; it is "better described as a collection of electronic adding machines and other arithmetic units, which were originally controlled by a web of large electrical cables" (David Alan Grier, IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, Jul-Sep 2004, p.2). It was programmed by a combination of plugboard wiring


Some good pictures of it on that site as well. I remember working with someone who had programmed computers this way.

In just 60 to 70 years we have come so far.



posted on Feb, 15 2012 @ 08:23 AM
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Originally posted by Monkeygod333
Sorry, just had to add. With the first moon landing, apparently, they had about as much computing power as an average cellphone.
Where did you hear that?

My guess is, the modern cell phone is way more powerful.



posted on Feb, 15 2012 @ 08:30 AM
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reply to post by NISMOALTI
 


Given what my dad's generation was able to do with its technology back then it's both a disgrace and a relief that we haven't been back nor have we set foot on mars. (I say it's a relief because it pains me to think of how badly we've wrecked this planet.) There was a time my dad's and even my grandparents' generation thought I'd be raising my kids in a Lunar or Martian colony.

Instead, we are earthbound and large swaths of the next generation are barely literate and having to worry about STD's at twelve. All the great advanced tech we do have is being used to spy on our own citizens and kill people in other countries more efficiently. There have been some amazing advances in medicine but too many people still have to live with severe disabilities and disfigurement after disease or accidents or genetic conditions. Most of the rest of the world is still battling diseases that have plagued humans for our entire existence that do have cures.

Our transportation infrastructure is largely unchanged since I was a kid, and I'm 45. If anything, I've seen it get worse in places.

I am impressed by what my iPad and iPhone have done to ease and simplify my life. Being able to see and hear my husband via FaceTime on his business trips still amazes and impresses me. And trust me because of my age and remembering how hard it was to do research and get information before the Internet, I don't take it for granted. I just think we haven't taken all this great tech we've developed and applied it to really improve living conditions in the ways earlier generations envisioned. Worse, we've used it to bully and harass people into committing suicide. Too bad we can't upgrade ourselves... Oh, and do something about those gigantic patches of plastic garbage floating out at sea!



posted on Feb, 15 2012 @ 08:33 AM
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Originally posted by PuterMan
reply to post by ereveton
 


If you go back to just 3 years before I was born (back to about 1945) the ENIAC computer was programmed with wires not punch cards.

ENIAC


The ENIAC was not a stored-program computer; it is "better described as a collection of electronic adding machines and other arithmetic units, which were originally controlled by a web of large electrical cables" (David Alan Grier, IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, Jul-Sep 2004, p.2). It was programmed by a combination of plugboard wiring


Some good pictures of it on that site as well. I remember working with someone who had programmed computers this way.

In just 60 to 70 years we have come so far.


If I am not mistaken, the code for the computers used on the Apollo-missions were hard-wired as well. I have the documents somewhere in my archives.



posted on Feb, 15 2012 @ 08:57 AM
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If it was a calculator what would they have used to calculate the measurements needed for the capsule. Beans?


 
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posted on Feb, 15 2012 @ 09:26 AM
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reply to post by SheeplFlavoredAgain
 



Most of the rest of the world is still battling diseases that have plagued humans for our entire existence that do have cures.


Indeed and thereby hangs a tale we may not discuss here.

You are right on all counts however, we have not really 'progressed'.



posted on Feb, 15 2012 @ 09:27 AM
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Memories *play song here*

assembly language, machine language, fortran, and cobol

ENIAC
en.wikipedia.org...
ftp.arl.mil...
www.csc.liv.ac.uk...

UNIVAC (5000)
en.wikipedia.org...
www.absoluteastronomy.com...

TI-99

Commodore 8K Pet, later 16K, then 32K, 64K, 128K

256K was HUGE at one time for home users.

Tandy

And today we sit here with more computing power than the entire world had at one time and only wish we had "MORE POWER" (quote "Tim the Toolman" TV show)

We should feel guilty! But, do we?

4 Megs of RAM - toddler's toys now.



edit on 15/2/2012 by Trexter Ziam because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 15 2012 @ 09:36 AM
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Originally posted by Trexter Ziam
Memories *play song here*

assembly language, machine language, fortran, and cobol

ENIAC
en.wikipedia.org...
ftp.arl.mil...
www.csc.liv.ac.uk...

UNIVAC (5000)
en.wikipedia.org...
www.absoluteastronomy.com...

TI-99

Commodore 8K Pet, later 16K, then 32K, then 64K

Tandy

And today we sit here with more computing power than the entire world had at one time and only wish we had "MORE POWER" (quote "Tim the Toolman" TV show)

We should feel guilty! But, do we?

4 Megs of RAM - toddler's toys now.

edit on 15/2/2012 by Trexter Ziam because: line space


4 Megs of RAM? I remember playing around with 256 bytes of RAM, and was ecstatic when I went to 1k of RAM, rofl .......



posted on Feb, 15 2012 @ 09:40 AM
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reply to post by Hellhound604
 


Exactly. And now we whine like spoiled children if we ONLY get 4Gigs of RAM on a cheapo computer.

Go TERRABYTES

No, I did not say trilobytes.



posted on Feb, 15 2012 @ 09:40 AM
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Originally posted by Monkeygod333
Sorry, just had to add. With the first moon landing, apparently, they had about as much computing power as an average cellphone.

So I was thinking. Somebody should write an app for that. Obviously it wont work, there's no disused and ready spaceship that you can just go plug it into. But it would be cool to say, ''I have an app for that...'' as soon as the subject comes up in conversation.
 
Posted Via ATS Mobile: m.abovetopsecret.com
 



Someone already has.


Here's a link to the Virtual Apollo Guidance Computer homepage: www.ibiblio.org...

A lot of people incorrectly state that the AGC only had as much computing power as a calculator, but in reality had about as much computing power as computers that would appear on the home market 8 years later.
edit on 15-2-2012 by Junkheap because: Because the blue fuzzy thing that's on fire told me to.



posted on Feb, 15 2012 @ 09:49 AM
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reply to post by Hellhound604
 



4 Megs of RAM? I remember playing around with 256 bytes of RAM, and was ecstatic when I went to 1k of RAM, rofl .......


You must be as old as Methusala. I thought I was getting a bit ancient but even my first computer had 16Kb RAM - A Tandy Model 1 or was that 2 :shk: can't remember now.



posted on Feb, 15 2012 @ 11:13 AM
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Originally posted by PuterMan
reply to post by Hellhound604
 



4 Megs of RAM? I remember playing around with 256 bytes of RAM, and was ecstatic when I went to 1k of RAM, rofl .......


You must be as old as Methusala. I thought I was getting a bit ancient but even my first computer had 16Kb RAM - A Tandy Model 1 or was that 2 :shk: can't remember now.


Hau!!!!! I just celebrated my birthday yesterday, and today you have to remind me very forcefully that I am getting older, but at least I am not fully grey


But yes, old computers bring back some very great memories. When I sold my old house, it was with great sadness that I had to let go of so many old computers and peripherals, from 75bp/s modems, core memories, 9-track tapes, parts of IBM 360 and 370 mainframes, and other computer stuff that I designed and built, and now I don't even have a clue what it is.

But the greatest fun I've had was building a computer from discrete 74-series logic chips, lol... (It worked, sort of, lol). Nowadays it is so easy, you just design a core and download it into a FPGA, lol.

At one stage I tried keeping these old fossils running from a nostalgia point-of-view, but it was not worth it.

But every now and then I still have great fun running an emulator of a very old computer, and run some of my old software on it. Even under some emulators, some software that took weeks to run on my old computers, takes milliseconds to execute on my fast computer at home, but I miss all the LED's that lit up the front panels of my old computers.




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