Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Did Wang computer get it right?

In 1972 I was working for a civil engineering company in San Jose California, who called all of us surveyor grunts into the office to show off their computor hookup, a dialup to a Wang computer. We all took turns playing Pong which had just came out, then one of the engineers ran through a few courses (distance and bearing) of a land survey and did an inverse to come up with the closing distance and bearing with just a little button pushing. We knew how to do this long hand with a HP35 hand held calculator, which also had came out in 1972, but to see it done by a computer in so short a time was like a miracle to us.

The Wang had been around for a while, but was a long way from being a personal computor. It was basicly a telephone with a rudimentary key board and was a huge unit that served a number of clients. So we all know what evolved after that and how Bill Gates figured out that we could all have our own personal computer "PC". Well, we've got them now and each one of us has a lot more storage and computing power than Wang could even imagine, along with Google, which replaced Microsoft's Altavista search engine. Google, as far as I know, is a free service that gives you access to untold amounts of information along with storing vast amounts of your own information. My blog has over 1000 posts stored on google, and the articles, most of the links, and pictures are still stored there. My nephew has a blog,, that sometimes gets 100,000 hits in one day and Google pays him a few cents for every hit, so not only do they give free storage, but they pay you for web traffic.

So Google in a way resembles the old Wang computer and has grown to be the largest data storage on the planet, look out for Microsoft because they are doing the same thing with servers that they did with the PC, as can be observed, in this video, by their new data center in Quincy Washington.

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