Category Archives: Uncategorized

Ep 284: Back up a bit



Back up a bit

A large percentage of the show’s staff all hurt their backs at once—the producer, the audio editor, founder, writer, research department head, and the host. Mind you, those are all the same guy so… We did manage to talk a little bit more about neural networks and early AI research. Hope you enjoy the unusually short episode.
Continue reading Ep 284: Back up a bit


Ep 283: An early AI, and the birth of the transistor



An early AI, and the birth of the transistor

Vacuum tubes were all well and good, but they were bulky, hot, power hungry, and prone to failure. Early on, artificial neural networks showed promise, as even if tubes broke while it was running, it would keep working. Meanwhile, the transistor is invented, and the unreliable tubes slowly became obsolete.
Continue reading Ep 283: An early AI, and the birth of the transistor


Ep 282: wires magnets and memory



wires magnets and memory

We spend some more time with some more vintage tech. This time we look at audio recorded on spools of wire, teletype equipment for input and output, and the magnetic core. Check out the links below to catch some nifty videos of this stuff being demonstrated and explained.
Continue reading Ep 282: wires magnets and memory


Ep 281: In memory of vintage memory



In memory of vintage memory

Before microchips, before solid state transistors, early electronic computers had to hold information somewhere… somehow… Join us as we look at some old methods of storing electronic memory.
Continue reading Ep 281: In memory of vintage memory


Ep 280: Finally, some actual computers!



Finally, some actual computers!

We started with the stone age, back in episode 270. Today, we finally get to look at an all electronic, Turing complete, programmable computer. We also take a short side trip to more or less fail to explain what “Turing complete” means.
Continue reading Ep 280: Finally, some actual computers!


Ep 279: World wars, cyphers and subs



World wars, cyphers and subs

War grips the globe, twice. Technology pushes forward, including the specialized calculating machines to encrypt messages on the one hand, and break the encryption of the enemy on the other.
Continue reading Ep 279: World wars, cyphers and subs


Ep 278: Vacuum tubes, with a side order of steampunk



Vacuum tubes, with a side order of steampunk

We talk about vacuum tubes, how they work and how they made radio and telephone work so much better. We also spend some time talking about the very first computer programmer, the mother of steam punk, and enchantress of number—Ada Lovelace.
Continue reading Ep 278: Vacuum tubes, with a side order of steampunk


Ep 277: Phil’s hundredth episode!



Phil’s hundredth episode!

It took a little over two years, what with the one episode a week format and all, but this is Phil’s one-hundredth time as our co-host extraordinaire! We share some of the things that we couldn’t squeeze into previous episodes, become baffled by Benford’s law, and otherwise relax and shoot the breeze.

Take that, you filthy air currents!
Continue reading Ep 277: Phil’s hundredth episode!


Ep 276: Binary boats and wireless



Binary boats and wireless

We spend some time with the ships and subs of the American Civil war, take our hats off to George Boole, and watch the beginning of radio.
Continue reading Ep 276: Binary boats and wireless


Ep 275: Telegraph and tabulation



Telegraph and tabulation

After the battery was invented, people began using electricity to do things like discover new elements and create new and better materials. Meanwhile, the punch card became a way to record information so that a machine could read and write it. Companies such as IBM were founded to keep track of it all. Wires stretched around the world to send messages fast enough to coordinate the new railroads, and new machines were invented to read and write faster than any human operators could manage.
Continue reading Ep 275: Telegraph and tabulation