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THE QUESTION ABOVE is grammatically correct: I intend “can,” not “will,” nor “may.”
Those of a certain age may remember asking, “Mrs. Grimbly, can I open a window?” She’d say, “Young man, whether you are able to do so isn’t the question. Were you asking my permission, you would say, ‘May I?’ “
But I stray from the point of today’s SimanaitisSays topic: Indeed, can I read a floppy? Or a cassette? Or a magnetic tape? Or a stack of punched cards?
Digital Storage. Media for digital data storage have evolved as quickly as the computers themselves. Here in Parts 1 and 2 today and tomorrow are tidbits about digital storage, ranging from magnetic tape and punched cards, through various means of floppy storage, to solid-state devices and the ethereal Cloud.
In the Beginning Was the Bit. At their most fundamental, digital devices are binary; either 0 or 1, electronically off or on. Most of us don’t readily work with long strings of 1s and 0s; or, as specialists manage, with other base 2n variations like hexadecimal base 16.
What’s more, early computers had volatile memories: Power off; memory gone. Storage depended upon reels of magnetic tape, rolls of punched paper tape, or stacks of punched cards.
Stacked Decks. Back in the early 1960s, Worcester Poly had its own IBM 1620, with which we’d work out programming details of a project. Then we’d take the stack of punched cards to Boston, where MIT maintained a large regional time-sharing mainframe. And, yes, the byword was “Do Not Fold, Spindle, Or Mutilate.” Such stacks were preciously transported.
R&T’s Cassette Memories. When I began at R&T in 1979, its Paul Lamar-designed computerized road test equipment had programmed instructions stored on two separate cassettes, one for acceleration testing, the other for brake testing.
Once loaded and operated, the equipment provided paper-strip output. Changing the equipment from acceleration to brake testing took several minutes, and woe be it if the cassettes got too hot.
Tomorrow in Part 2, we continue with more digital storage, eventually getting positively ethereal about it. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2021