Sunday, July 11, 2010
Willy Wonka and the Siemens System 4004
Last night, the family watched Willy Wonka. Willy Wonka and Charlie and Chocolate Factory are my 8-year old son's latest fascinations -- he has a pension for classics, preferring Hansel and Gretal, Rumpelstiltskin, Alice and Wonderland etc., over newer literary endeavours -- although he does love modern remakes of the classics. I noticed an old computer in the movie called the Siemens System 4004. Here is a reference for this computer: Siemens System 4004, Zentraleinheiten 4004/35, 45, 55, Beschreibung und Befehlsliste. Order no. 2-2600-305. Siemens AG, Bereich Datenverarbeitung, Munich, Germany, 3rd edition, July 1968. And, here is a link to the Maestro 1. was curious about this and Googled and Wikied the computer. It seems that it was part of the original Maestro I series of computers which seem to be some of the first computers with internal memory. Prior to these were punchcard computers whereby the programmer needed to break his mode of thought by inputting another card into the computer to read. I couldn't help but think what an enormous contribution to technology was memory. Now a programmer could pre-program his thoughts and a computer could implement these ideas from a stream of consciousness, rather than the human's thought processes being interrupted by inserting separate punch cards into a computer. I believe the Siemens System 4004 was licensed to companies for about 1000 DeutscheMark per month, about the equivalent of the cost of to reside in a small home in Germany at the time.