Articles in Curatorial Insight(70)

Who Invented the Microprocessor?

Who Invented the Microprocessor?

David Laws Sep 20, 2018
The microprocessor is hailed as one of the most significant engineering milestones of all time. The lack of a generally agreed definition of the term has supported many claims to be the inventor of the microprocessor. This article describes a chronology of early approaches to integrating the primary building blocks of a computer on to fewer and fewer microelectronic chips, culminating in the concept of the microprocessor. Read More
Navigating the Quantum Computing Frontier

Navigating the Quantum Computing Frontier

David Brock Aug 24, 2018
Perhaps you are like me: You’ve aware that quantum computing is a hot topic today but have a nagging feeling that you don’t really have a good picture of what it’s all about. Sure, you know it has something to do with the unintuitive behavior of the world described by quantum mechanics—cats in boxes that are blends of alive and dead until you look inside, and photons coordinating their properties instantaneously over great distances and that are also sometimes a particle and sometimes a wave. And you also know that somehow in this weird behavior, researchers see the possibility for a new kind of computer that accomplish feats that computers like the ones that you own could never dream of doing. Oh, and you know there is something about these quantum computers being able to break all the codes. Read More
The Asilomar Microcomputer Workshop and the Billion Dollar Toilet Seat

The Asilomar Microcomputer Workshop and the Billion Dollar Toilet Seat

David Laws Aug 07, 2018
A microprocessor-embedded Lucite toilet seat and colorful handheld sun umbrellas featured in a group photograph of attendees at the 44th Asilomar Microcomputer Workshop (AMW44) in April 2018 represent the irreverent sense of humor combined with the pursuit of cutting-edge technology and an unrelenting hacker ethic that have pervaded these influential annual meetings of “movers, shakers, nerds, and greybeards of the industry” since 1975. Read More
QuickTime and the Rise of Multimedia

QuickTime and the Rise of Multimedia

Hansen Hsu Mar 30, 2018
QuickTime, the pioneering mass-market digital video format for personal computers, was developed by Apple and released in 1991 on the Macintosh. As part of the MPEG-4 video standard, QuickTime technology can be found in every device today that plays digital video, from cell phones to 4K streaming TVs. Read More
Bringing A New Voice to Genius—MITalk, the CallText 5010, and Stephen Hawking’s Wheelchair

Bringing A New Voice to Genius—MITalk, the CallText 5010, and Stephen Hawking’s Wheelchair

Chris Garcia Mar 26, 2018
Stephen Hawking suffered from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. The disease would eventually paralyze him, and a bout of pneumonia in the mid-1980s made him unable to speak on his own. For such a public figure, this was a significant difficulty, one that led Hawking to a long-lasting and now widely recognized solution: voice synthesis. Read More
In the Holiday Spirit: Festive Music by Computer!

In the Holiday Spirit: Festive Music by Computer!

Chris Garcia Dec 21, 2017
Before computer gaming, music, and art became mainstay applications and tools for creation, engineers often created programs to demonstrate a machine’s capabilities in ways that were easy for the public follow. It took many years to get musicians into the idea of composing using a computer, and even longer to get general audiences to take those works seriously. Read More
Born in a Van: Happy 40th Birthday to the Internet!

Born in a Van: Happy 40th Birthday to the Internet!

Marc Weber Nov 22, 2017
Over the shortening fall days of 1977, an unmarked silver step van filled with futuristic equipment, shaggy-haired engineers, and sometimes fully uniformed generals quietly cruised the streets of the San Francisco Peninsula. Only an oddly shaped antenna gave a hint of its purpose. Read More
Someone Else’s Computer: The Prehistory of Cloud Computing

Someone Else’s Computer: The Prehistory of Cloud Computing

David Brock Nov 09, 2017
“There is no cloud,” goes the quip. “It’s just someone else’s computer.”The joke gets at a key feature of cloud computing: Your data and the software to process it reside in a remote data center — perhaps owned by Amazon, Google, or Microsoft — which you share with many users even if it feels like it’s yours alone. Read More
Fairchild Semiconductor: The 60th Anniversary of a Silicon Valley Legend

Fairchild Semiconductor: The 60th Anniversary of a Silicon Valley Legend

David Laws Sep 19, 2017
President Eisenhower’s Civil Rights Act, Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat, and the launch of Sputnik by the Soviet Union were respectively important social, cultural, and technical news stories of 1957. There is one event that year did not make headlines but over the next 60 years also profoundly impacted all three aspects of modern society. Read More
Early Frontiers for Computer Creativity: TX-0 Writes a Western

Early Frontiers for Computer Creativity: TX-0 Writes a Western

Chris Garcia Aug 23, 2017
In April 2016, filmmaker Oscar Sharp and NYU artificial intelligence researcher Ross Goodwin teamed up to create the short film Sunspring. Goodwin created an AI bot called Benjamin to write the script, and Sharp filmed it as a part of the SCI-FI-LONDON 48 Hour Film Challenge. It was impressive, but it wasn’t exactly something new. In fact, the exact same concept had been done before—in 1960. Read More
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