15 May 2019






school photos







           All original writing



2014, 2015, 2016,

2017, 2018, 2019

Ian McLauchlin


(1) Interestingly, the first computer used for commercial business applications was that developed for Joe Lyons tea shops - the LEO or Lyons Electronic Office. It was used initially for valuation jobs, but its role was extended to include payroll, inventory, and so on. Another of its early tasks was the efficient compilation of daily orders which were phoned in every afternoon by the shops and used to calculate the overnight production requirements, assembly instructions, delivery schedules, invoices, costings, and management reports.

(2) Herman Hollerith (February 29, 1860 – November 17, 1929) was an American inventor who developed an electromechanical punched card tabulator to assist in summarizing information and, later, accounting and compiling and analysing voting data. He was the founder of the Tabulating Machine Company that was amalgamated (via stock acquisition) in 1911 with three other companies to form a fifth company, the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company, which was renamed IBM (International Business Machines) in 1924. Hollerith is regarded as one of the seminal figures in the development of data processing. His invention of the punched card tabulating machine marks the beginning of the era of semi-automatic data processing systems, and his concept dominated that landscape for nearly a century.

(3) The dots of paper produced by punching holes in paper tape were called 'chad' and were potentially quite dangerous. You had to dispose of them carefully because if they got away they could cause real damage to the eyes, respiratory tract etc.

(4) BASIC (Beginner's All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) heavily based on Fortran, is a family of general-purpose, high-level programming languages whose design philosophy emphasises ease of use. In 1964, John G. Kemeny and Thomas E. Kurtz designed the original BASIC language at Dartmouth College, a private Ivy League Research University in New Hampshire, US. They wanted to enable students in fields other than science and mathematics to use computers. At the time, nearly all use of computers required writing custom software, which was something only scientists and mathematicians tended to learn.

(5)  The first general purpose microprocessor - the 8 bit Intel 8080 - was produced and became relatively cheap and so popular. Various micro- and mini-computers were designed and built around this chip bringing into being the concept of the 'home' computer.

Examples are:

Altair 8800 and 8080 USA

Acorn Atom


Tandy/Radio Shack

Commodore 64 and PET

Sinclair ZX81 and ZX Spectrum


BBC Micro which was designed for use in schools:

(6) The Amstrad PCW had a variant of the 3.5 inch floppy - the 3 inch floppy disc. I guess this was because it was cheaper - the PCW was built down to a price. The two were incompatible.

            3.5 inch floppy disc:                             3 inch floppy disc



(7) The first prototype of a computer mouse was designed in 1964 by Bill English at Stanford Research Institute, from Douglas Engelbart's sketches.


(8) Believe it or not, some of the first computer printers were 'laser' printers in which a dry ink toner segregated on an electrically charged photo-conducting metal plate and was then fixed to the paper by heating. Laser printers incorporate much of the technology used by Xerox copying machines. They came to the market in the late 1960s.

Line printers printed a whole line at a time in a fairly conventional way but were expensive and used only in a commercial environment.

Dot matrix printers were common in the early 1970s and 80s. They were mechanical and cheap and worked by electronically firing a matrix of pins which printed dots through a conventional typewriter ribbon forming characters on a continuous paper roll.

Inkjet printing development was shared between Hewlett-Packard, Epson and Canon. These worked by heating tiny bubbles of ink in a multiholed nozzle printhead and squirting them onto the paper character by character, line by line.

They became common in the mid 1980s and are now the major home printing device, often incorporating scanning and copying facilities.

(9) Microsoft started work on a Graphical User Interface (GUI) program in 1981. Windows 1.0 extended the DOS operating system and was released in 1985 in the form of a 16 bit operating system with a graphical user interface.

(The number of bits relates to the size of the processor register and in simple terms indicates the amount of data that can be operated on at any one time, the bigger the better, faster and more efficient.)

Windows 3.11 followed in 1990 and then Windows 95 in . . .  wait for it . . .  1995. This was the first version with the modern Windows feel and was designed initally as a 16 bit system with 32 bit parts. Windows versions (98, Me, XP, Vista, 8) followed culminating in today's 64 bit Windows 10.

Windows has come to dominate the world's PC market.

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