I was looking in a photo folder this afternoon that was labeled “Summer School, 1964-68.” I’d never bothered with it before–it’s crammed full of contact sheets and negatives so it’s hard to work up the will to deal with it. But I had a moment and I was already poking around in the general vicinity so I just started idly flipping through a few of the sheets. As I did, something caught my eye: it was unmistakably the panels of the R1. Off I headed to the scanner and, thrillingly, this is what emerged:
There are several pictures on the sheet of Marty Graham showing a group of high school students around the computer room. We don’t have very many pictures of the R1 so this is just delightful. But what I’m curious about is that in most of the images the students aren’t looking at Graham:
So what are they looking at? Anybody? Also is there anything here to date the photos more specifically?
Bonus: I smell a trap.
Note: I’ll be traveling the rest of the week. I plan on posting as usual but circumstances may well veer out of my control. We’ll see.
Computer rooms with windows. Whatever next?
It seems they are looking at the computer at work. It must have been doing something interesting. Somehow the scene looks familiar….In 2016 when we get a group of young people together, what do they do?
They were probably looking at the blinking lights. Clever programmers wrote code do simple graphics in the lights.
When R-1 was decommissioned, there were some sizable arrays of indicator lamps in the front rack. Load certain values into certain internal locations and, voila, you have a very low resolution graphic. During the decommissioning, these arrays flashed the words “I DIE” along with other patterns. At least one of these racks ended up as a coffee table in Austin after R-1 was dismantled.
There also were some “Williams Tube Memories”. These contained an exposed storage tube. Bits written into the memory appeared as dots on the screen until the memory was erased — it was “write once, erase, write again” memory. (Some of the readers will recognize this as the same type of technology incorporated in the Tektronix 4013 graphics terminal in ICSA in the 1970s.) These memory units were not in the front rack in 1971, so no telling where they were (or if they were even there) when this photo was taken.
I attended Rice’s summer school for high school students in 1967. Had a blast.
My father worked for Dr Graham. I also know he was a man you listened to, not looked at.