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do wth the data
and in what order. These instructions are called a program.
In the early days, you put in the instructions by
flipping switches or loaded them from paper tape.
This was called machine language.
It made computers a pain to use.
Even worse, every type of computer spoke a different
machine language.
The ENIAC could compute the thirty second trajectory
of a shell in twenty seconds.
Operators required two days to program it do so.
Then a US Navy captain named Grace Hopper
solved the problem.
She invented a computer language, English words that
the computer itself could translate into binary code.
Now users could type whole lists of instructions
into a computer
rather than flipping those damned switches.
Like most things having to do with computers,
that first language had a silly name - COBOL.
It was followed by other languages like FORTRAN and BASIC
and they all made computing just a bit more user-friendly.
So when some nerd tells you he's been up all night
programming or writing software or hacking code,
what he really means is he's been typing long lists of
instructions into his computer.
Mainframe computers were far from personal. They sat
in big air-conditioned rooms
at insurance companies, phone companies, and the bank,
and their main function was to get us confused with
some other guy named Cringely,
who was a deadbeat and had a criminal record.
Eventually computer terminals did begin to
appear in some schools,
but most of us paid no attention.
But there was usually one kid who did pay attention,
falling in love with the digital purity of those ones and zeros.
He was the nerd.
And I took this book home that described the PDP 8 computer
and it just...oh, it was just like a bible to me.
I mean, all these things that for some reason I'd fallen
in love with, like you might fall in love with...
a card game called Magic, or you might fall in love with doing
crossword puzzles or something else,
or playing a musical instrument, I fell in love with these
little descriptions of computers on their insides,
and it was a little mathematics, I could work out some
problems on paper and solve it and see how it's done,
and I could come up with my own solutions
and feel good inside.
So you would keyboard these commands in and then you
would wait for a while and then the thing would go dadadada...
and it would tell you something out,
but even with that it was still remarkable - especially for
a ten year old,
that you could write a programme in Basic let's say or Fortran
and actually this machine would sort of take your idea
and it would sort of execute your idea and
give you back some results
and if they were the results that you predicted your program
really worked it was an incredibly thrilling experience.
Nerds wanted their own computers right from the beginning,
but it took a technological breakthrough to make that possible.
This is it, the chip, the microprocessor, this is what allows you
to have a mainframe computer on your desk.
In the 1950s mainframes were as big as this garage and that's
because they were filled with thousands of these,
vacuum tubes or valves.
Eventually the valves were made much smaller and
replaced with transistors,
still too big however to make a computer that could fit
on your desk.
What that took was further miniaturisation. Here we have a single
piece of silicon etched with thousands of transistors.
This microprocessor holds more than a million transistors and
that's the secret of the personal computer
and that's why they call it silicon valley not computer valley.
These are the people who invented the microprocessor -- Intel.
Intel was started 28 years ago by a handful of guys after a row
with their old boss.
Their microprocessors today power 85 percent
of the world's computers.
Intel not only invented the chip, they are responsible for the
laid-back Silicon Valley working style.
Everyone was on a first-name

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