[Offtopic] Inside the machine

Roland Gesthuizen rgesthuizen at gmail.com
Sun Oct 21 11:41:26 EST 2007

 Inside the machine <http://www.flickr.com/photos/plakboek/452358986/> - by
In the Melbourne Science Museum there is an analogue computer that plays the
game naughts and crosses. I have fond memories of playing this as a child
when it was located in the Melbourne Museum when it was located in the
middle of the city of Melbourne, next to the state library. Back then, a
visit to the city with my friends always included a quick detour and
excursion to play with this computer.

We were not really trying play this game to beat the computer. Most kids
figure out that nobody can win at playing naughts and crosses if they they
make the right first moves. Even the computer
WOPR<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WOPR>quickly figured this out in the
film War Games <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WarGames>. Instead, whilst
watching the flash of lights and clicking of circuit breakers, I was trying
to figure out how a panel of circuits could compute a response and make a
decision then display it on this crude interface.

Here you can see an analogue computer
I assembled after a recent visit. Kind of ironic that it was relocated
to the kids science area, close to where my children now play.

With the literal explosion of virtual worlds that we now take for granted,
it is easy to forget how far we have come with computers and their interface
today. Kolabora explores this further in his
asking what we would do if we could have built these features into the
operating systems of 20 years ago, drawing attention to the FLOSS operating
system Croquet <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Croquet_project>. I rather like
the following quote that he includes in this blog entry:

"*Existing operating systems** are like the castles that were owned by their
respective Lords in the Middle Ages. They were the centers of power, a way
to control the population and threaten the competition. Sometimes, a
particular Lord would become overpowering, and he would declare himself as
King. This was great for the King. And not too bad for the rest of the
nobles, but in the end -- technology progressed and people started blowing
holes in the sides of the castles. The castles were eventually abandoned*"
-David A. Smith

As WOPR said in War Games "A strange game. The only winning move is not to

Roland Gesthuizen - ICT Coordinator - Westall Secondary College

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change
the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has." --Margaret Mead
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