Tag Archives: micro processor

Drop the Mike Inventions, Creations and Innovations

by Rick Bretz

Let’s face it.  People love stuff that makes their lives simpler, easier and efficient.  These gadgets and other products have gotten the mistaken reputation of making all of us lazier.  It’s time to champion these universal monuments make the world safe again for inventions that keep us bolted to our lounge chair.

closeup photo of person holding panasonic remote control in front of turned on smart television
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TV Remote 

Back in the day of cheap gas, people controlled their televisions in two ways–leg power, or children power as in “Ricky, please change the channel from 7 to 4 for Daddy and Mommy.”  The other way was a tethered remote control that traveled from your seat in the corner of the living room to the television, creating a booby trap for anyone entering the room, .  The tethered remote was invented in 1950, which is a surprise to the baby boomer generation because our parents could have saved us several low crawls across the living room to change channels.  Managers in the Zenith organization thought there was a better way.  Time for Eugene Polly, an electronics engineer, to bring his awesomeness.

Eugene Polly-Zenith Electronics-1955-He used light beams transmitted from the remote to receptors on the TV to change channels or mute the sound.  This worked most of the time but it had its drawbacks due to the receptors misreading other light sources like the sunset or sunrise.  However, Mr. Polly, because he got the whole thing started, deserves a big five from every sports fan on earth.

The remote was perfected by Robert Adler-Zenith Electronics Physicist-1956-Adler’s remote used hammers striking metal rods that produced ultrasonic waves to change channels and control the TV.  This was the standard until infrared technology became the new way to control a TV more than 25 years later.

auto automobile automotive car
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Global Positioning System (GPS)

Back in the day of cheap gas, drivers had to multitask in the worst way.  Forget about texting and driving, try reading a map while driving.  It was doing that, or pulling over to the side of the road, getting the map out of the glove compartment where no gloves were kept and try to determine your current location and how to get your destination.  Now, it was easier if you had a passenger, like a spouse, to look at the map and navigate while driving but often this just created arguments and shouts of, “You’ve got the map, can’t you read a map!” if you were driving alone and had enough forethought, you could list your highway and road numbers and the exits and turns you had to take so you didn’t have to look at the map.  Later on, drivers could print it out on MapQuest or some other navigation site but that didn’t come along until the 1990s.

Roger Easton-Naval Research Laboratory-1964– Easton called it the Timation for Time Navigation-He developed the technology to track satellites orbiting the earth, specifically ones the Soviet Union Launched during the space race.  He was granted a patent 10 years later and in the 1970s the Department of Defense took certain features and developed and renamed it the Global Positioning System.  That steered the technology (See what I did there) to what we use today in automobiles.  We can all thank Mr. Easton for getting us back home and preventing millions of arguments among friends and spouses.

grayscale photo of luxury car
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Automobile and All Things Travel Oriented

Back in the day when there were no gas stations anywhere let alone cheap gas, people traveled by horseback, carriage, ships crossing the ocean and moving down the rivers.  Then trains and locomotives entered the culture, followed by the motor carriage or automobile and then passenger airplanes crossing continents and the oceans.  We can all thanks several people for saving us time and creating a mobile society where we can see people thousands of miles away in a matter of hours.  It also enables us to receive food products and other consumables in our stores and restaurants faster by truck, train, and air freight.  When we want our pizza, we want our pizza.

bulb close up electricity energy
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The Light Bulb

Back in the day there were only candles and the light by the fire place or, later,  using oil burning lamps that you had to carry around.  Then electricity was harnessed and then Thomas Edison and his  team perfected the light bulb and got his patent in 1979.  Inventors and scientists first experimented with electricity properties producing light as far back as 1800.  The issues they faced included finding an inexpensive filament and making it burn for several hours.

Thomas Edison-Inventor-1879-As with any important development that is life changing, it takes someone who takes what is already been tried and perfecting it from there.  This is what Edison did.  He also hire intelligent and hard working people to work in his laboratory.  One of these was a scientist named Francis Upton from Princeton University.  We can all thank Thomas Edison and his staff for bumping into the furniture at night and being able to read a book anywhere in the house.

low angle view of electric post
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Electricity

Benjamin Franklin-You know, the Kite flying thing-You can argue about Benjamin Franklin’s experiment just establishing a connection between lightning and static electricity.  You could also point out that many inventors developed electricity to the point when it could be managed and used for greater purposes.  Benjamin Franklin must be given his recognition though.   Nicolas Tesla’s experiments with Alternating Current was a game changer despite Thomas Edison’s propaganda against AC in favor of his Direct Current technology.  The game changer for society was the ability to send electric current through wires to homes and businesses in a fashion that used electricity only when a person needs it-Turning lights on and off in a room when you need it.

apartment bath bathroom bathtub
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Indoor Plumbing

Isaiah Rogers-Architect-1829-The first modern case of indoor plumbing occurred in 1829 when Isaiah Rogers planned indoor plumbing for 8 water closets at the Tremont Hotel in Boston, Mass.  Before that, historical records proved the existence of several plumbing systems going back several hundred if not thousands of years.  The flush toilet appeared in 1851 but was first invented in 1596.  The whole human race thanks everyone involved for this one.

books on bookshelves
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Printing Press

Johannes Gutenberg-1439-Before Gutenberg’s movable type printing press, books and documents were hand written or printed using wood block letters with ink covering the raised letters.  This was pressed against paper to create a word, a tedious process at best for both techniques.  It would be nice to think that Gutenberg invented the movable machine type printing press for the betterment of mankind but, as with most inventions, he was interested in producing mass amounts of a product in a short period of time to make the most money.  Now in the digital age with downloading books to your laptop or mobile device, it’s all done with binary computer instructions and data centers that send pages and pages over the internet.

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All Things IT relatedThe First Microchip

Jack Kilby and Robert Noyce- Texas Instruments-1959- The invention and the development of the Microchip began the revolution. The Microchip let computers do what they do like logic gates and controlling instruction sets.  This ushered in the future of smaller chips and faster computer memory for today’s computers.   Everything from garage door openers, mobile phones, software for fixing pictures you take on your smart phone, digital music playback devices that keep your entire music collection in a shirt pocket, gaming devices, streaming devices for television, credit card hardware at the store for purchases to all of the information technology that makes your car run,  these are all due to many engineers and inventors constantly thinking of ways to change the way we live all due to the original microchip.

forced perspective photography of cars running on road below smartphone
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Mobile Phone

Martin Cooper Motorola-1973-Everyone carries around a small computer to be accessed when we need it, it’s the mobile or smart phone.  We carry around the ability to  ping data centers placed around the world in strategic places for answers to any question.  You don’t even have to type it anymore, just ask Siri.  Using satellite technology and the power of the microprocessor and application development, we use the power of our search terms to buy, read, navigate and find a good restaurant.   We can thank Mr.  Cooper for making that first mobile phone call.

food breakfast fork bagel
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Bagel Slicer

Sometimes the simple developments are the most satisfying.  Cutting a bagel can be hazardous. While researching, the term BRI came up. It’s a Bagel Related Incident.  One wrong move with a knife, or a distraction in any way, you could hurt yourself all in the name of preparing the perfect bagel  Several designs are on the market but one of the best is the Bagel Guillotine.   The name gives you the picture of what it looks like. Some one hit a home run on this one.

food peanuts shell healthy
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Chocolate and Peanut Butter Combination

Harry Burnett Reese-1928-Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups-If a choice had to be made between one of these on the list and peanut butter cups, most people would probably remove something else and keep the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.  People have to have their priorities. In fact, anything that combines peanut butter and chocolate makes the whole world a better place.  If more people ate Peanut Butter Cups there would be less arguments and the two parties in US  Congress would be able to get along and get more done.

astronaut standing beside american flag on the moon
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Moon Landing

NASA-July 20th, 1968-This moon landing was significant because it forced the space agency and its subcontractors to step up their game.  One of which was the way computer language was processed.  The Apollo Guidance Computer had to process instructions differently.  MIT hardware and software developers developed restart protection and priority task scheduling where the most important systems like attitude control  and landing guidance get the highest priority compared to other instructions that are not life threatening. The computer core systems told the AGC that this task is more important that that task so ignore the one that is not as important right now.  This was different than previous computers where computers were batch scheduled where each instruction was given the same priority in a round robin fashion.  This became important in the development in home computers in the 70s.  The world of computer hardware and software development was pushed forward because NASA had a goal of reaching the moon before the end of decade.

Notable Links

https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/tv/eugene-j-polley-engineer-who-invented-the-first-wireless-tv-remote-control-dies-at-96/2012/05/22/gIQAv4J4iU_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.136b36854f90

https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/06/the-man-who-created-gps/372846/

https://www.sciencefocus.com/science/who-really-invented-the-light-bulb/

https://www.bltdirect.com/who-invented-the-light-bulb

http://www.unmuseum.org/lightbulb.htm

https://www.electricityforum.com/who-invented-electricity

https://theplumber.com/plumbing-in-america/

https://www.psprint.com/resources/printing-press/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Printing_press

https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-a-microchip-1991410

http://www.knowyourmobile.com/nokia/nokia-3310/19848/history-mobile-phones-1973-2008-handsets-made-it-all-happen

http://www.galttech.com/research/household-diy-tools/best-bagel-slicer.php

http://www.harryburnettreese.info/History_Book/REESES_Peanut_Butter_Cups__The_Untold_Story.html

https://www.britannica.com/story/moon-landing-just-the-facts

https://history.nasa.gov/computers/Ch2-5.html

https://www.ibiblio.org/apollo/ForDummies.html

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d1nz7vgyUh8

Where Do We Go From Here…?

business computer connection contemporary
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by Rick Bretz

In the movie “Six Days, Seven Nights” Harrison Ford tells Anne Heche, “we’re going to be here for a long,long.long…..long,…..long,,,,,,,,long time.”   Well, that’s where we are with information technology and the Cloud Computing environment and this technology wasn’t built in six days and seven nights.   Computers have been around since mechanical computers were invented such as the Abacus and the Babbage Engine concept and have steadily infused themselves in its many forms since then.

http://www.computerhistory.org/babbage/

From the Abacus to the SMART 8K Television. Computers and their handy friends, the microchips that help create the SMARTness of the “Internet of Things”,  are all around us. The microprocessor jump-started the imaginations of engineers and inventors in the years afterward.  This is the computing power along with size and heat requirement that got the whole Internet of Things started.

https://www.techspot.com/article/874-history-of-the-personal-computer/

It’s in the mobile phone, the electric car, the hybrid vehicle, and even gas-powered transportation.  It’s in our airplanes, trains, hotel rooms and are a big part of our security posture with the cameras on houses and businesses.  It has let us get cash from ATMs and buy stuff from grocery and mall stores by sliding in our computer chip credit or bank card when we just can’t get to the ATM.

gray and white robot
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Once we get into the house, the Information technology stuff lives in our security system, our home network, our SMART refrigerators, our high tech televisions.  It has even let bloggers reach thousands of people at the creation of blog site on WordPress.

The security that protects all of our data in our hard drives and CPUs has lagged behind historically but has not stalled at a red light on the information superhighway. A Black Hat hacker has to only be right once while network security defenses and protocols have to defend all attacks, much like terrorist going after soft targets.  That area of Technology is trying to keep up but it is a wall chat constantly renovated as security professionals keep stacking the bricks but the territory gets longer and wider.  All the while, the buying public has purchased and purchased, waiting for the next, biggest and smallest and fastest with all of the bright colors associated with it.

Moore’s Law

The law is based on Moore’s prediction that the number of components on a computer chip would double every two years. More accurately, Moore predicted that the number of transistors placed on a single square inch of an integrated circuit chip would double every two years.

With all the “Whiz Bang” stuff out there, what’s really important is not the latest and greatest from a historical standpoint.  The worthy topic is a discussion about value.  In another string of words:  “How much did people pay for the latest hot shot device and how many forked over the cash?”  The follow up question would be ”how long did the cash light set have to wait before they could get it.” Let take a look.

For several years, the power and features of computers increased while the cost dropped at a rapid cycle, some people said 18 to 24 months where costs dropped and computer specifications raised to another level.  That concept is obsolete now because companies need more time to develop ideas, test concepts and generally raise the technology bar.

According to a USA Today article in June of 2018, the price of an HP 3000 in 1971 costs 95 thousand dollars. In 1977 an Apple II computer costs 1298 dollars, adjusted for inflation would be more than 5300 dollars.. In 1990 a Commodore VIC costs about 300 dollars, adjusted for inflation it would be a little over 900 dollars.  These prices were for computers with considerably less computer power and speed of today’s models. Today, a consumer can get a laptop, PC or even a SMART phone for a few hundred dollars and be able to run apps, software and use the speed and power of the device that people could only wish in 1971 and 1980.

Today, you can access the world wide web from any device from just about anywhere where the infrastructure exists. That brings us to the age of Cloud Computing.

Technological Evolution

Technology seeks the most efficient form, unless otherwise constrained. Efficient form is defined qualitatively as one that is best adapted to its application or as one with the least number of problems.

 

This means that the technology evolution has brought us to this point where we can go get any document and work any any place we want to work, be it at the beach, the cafe, hotel room, or hotel lobby.  Today you don’t have to be in the “Office” to finish a job you started in the “Office.”  To bring the idea home, you don’t have to start working in an office when beginning a new job today,

Cloud Computing serves as the next step on the timeline from local area networks, storage and infrastructure and desktop applications residing on local hard drive to accessing personalized desktops, data files and applications while sitting at your favorite coffee shop while the power of the Cloud goes out does the work for you.

 Since this began with a movie reference, here are two more to ponder. Two movies recently released reveal the potential for technology.  The movie “Lucy” showed how integrating computer technology and information with human beings can bring dangerous, unintended consequences in the wrong hands but in the right hands can be a force for good.

The other movie aired on Netflix and was called, “Extinction.”  You have to decide who is doing the dirty work and who is being selected for extinction.  The movie centered around Artificial Intelligence and how far humans are prepared to advance robot technology in 100 or more years from now.  Without spoiling the movie’s plot and conclusion, it surprises you when trying to decide who are the protagonists and who are the evil doers and whether there are any categories at all.

Notable Links:

https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/the-end-of-moores-law-why-the-theory-that-computer-processors-will-double-in-power-every-two-years-10394659.html

https://www.techspot.com/article/874-history-of-the-personal-computer/

Article on the history of computer prices.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2018/06/22/cost-of-a-computer-the-year-you-were-born/36156373/

Here’s an excellent computer timeline that outlines when each type of computer was introduced to the scientific community and then the buying public.

http://www.computerhistory.org/timeline/computers/

https://ethw.org/Early_Popular_Computers,_1950_-_1970