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Re: [groff] 04/05: {g, n} Give assistance to pager users.

From: Colin Watson
Subject: Re: [groff] 04/05: {g, n} Give assistance to pager users.
Date: Wed, 3 Jul 2019 11:34:44 +0100
User-agent: Mutt/1.10.1 (2018-07-13)

On Wed, Jul 03, 2019 at 11:39:32AM +1000, John Gardner wrote:
> I've lost the link, but I remember somebody got hold of a hard-copy
> terminal somehow and used it to display his Twitter's newsfeed by threading
> output through a serial port hooked up to his Linux workstation.
> The output wasn't much to look at, but the effort somebody went to to
> connect two technologies invented 50 years apart was seriously inspiring.

In university we did a group project to build an EDSAC emulator, as part
of the Cambridge Computer Lab's celebrations of the 50th anniversary of
EDSAC's first running programs.  (This is probably enough information to
deduce my age quite accurately: I suspect younger than many here.)

When the original machine was built, debuggers weren't a thing yet, so
as a small affordance for users they connected a speaker to the
accumulator, and for example when you ran the prime-listing program you
could reportedly hear it counting off the rhythm of the primes.  As far
as we could tell nobody had ever made a recording of this, so we could
only guess at what it might have sounded like, but we certainly wanted
this feature in our emulator, even though this was a thing written 50
years later by a bunch of second-years in Java with only the most
tenuous connection to the original.

Best guess: shove the bits out what amounted to a serial port connected
to the sound card and cross our fingers, and it was enough to be able to
likewise hear the primes being counted off.  We eventually got somebody
who'd worked on the original machine to come and listen to it: he told
us that it really sounded nothing like the original but it clearly
fulfilled the same purpose.  Good enough for us considering what we had
to work with.

Colin Watson                                       [address@hidden]

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