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U.S.S. Akron (ZRS-4) and U.S.S. Macon (ZRS-5)

The United States Navy airships U.S.S. Akron (ZRS-4) and U.S.S. Macon (ZRS-5) were designed for long-range scouting in support of fleet operations. Often referred to as flying aircraft carriers, each of the helium-inflated airships carried F9C-2 Curtiss Sparrowhawk biplanes which could be launched and recovered in flight, greatly extending the range over which the AkronContinue reading “U.S.S. Akron (ZRS-4) and U.S.S. Macon (ZRS-5)”

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The birth of Tcl

The Tcl scripting language grew out of my work on design tools for integrated circuits at the University of California at Berkeley in the early 1980’s. My students and I had written several interactive tools for IC design, such as Magic and Crystal. Each tool needed to have a command language (in those days peopleContinue reading “The birth of Tcl”

Digging Up the Rich Viking History of Britain

A massive 1,100-year-old graveyard leads to a surprising new view of the Nordic legacy in Britain Cat Jarman led me through a dense tangle of forest called Heath Wood. We were in Derbyshire, close to the very heart of England. There was no path, and the forest floor was overgrown with bracken and bush. ItContinue reading “Digging Up the Rich Viking History of Britain”

Inside the Apple-1’s unusual MOS clock driver chip

Apple’s first product was the Apple-1 computer, introduced in 1976. This early microcomputer used an unusual type of storage for its display: shift register memory. Instead of storing data in RAM (random-access memory), it was stored in a 1024-position shift register. You put a bit into the shift register and 1024 clock cycles later, theContinue reading “Inside the Apple-1’s unusual MOS clock driver chip”

Qualcomm: From Satellites to CDMA to Snapdragons

Qualcomm is the world’s largest fabless semiconductor designer. The name Qualcomm is a mashup of Quality and Communications and communications has been a hallmark of the company since its founding. They began in satellite communications and today most every smartphone has a Qualcomm chip. The ubiquity of communications in our devices and everyday lives hasContinue reading “Qualcomm: From Satellites to CDMA to Snapdragons”

How The Inca Used Knots To Tell Stories

The Inca are most often remembered not for what they had but for what they didn’t have: the wheel, iron, a written language. This third lack has given rise to a paradox, the Inca paradox. Could it be that the largest pre-Columbian empire in the Americas existed without a jot of linguistic notation? Could someoneContinue reading “How The Inca Used Knots To Tell Stories”