Tag Archives: tech-history

Some Firsts Who Were Women

The Web keeps throwing stories at me about remarkable pioneering women, so let me get down a few before It gets mad: First Known Author – Enheduanna, Ur, ~2200 BCE That is, the first writer whose name was recorded.  Seems … Continue reading

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A Heinlein Meme Started the Space Race

… according to the excellent Washington Post podcast Moonrise.  It’s an account of what led up to the Apollo 11 moon landing, starting with Robert Goddard, John W. Campbell, Sergei Korolev, and Wernher von Braun in the 1920s and 30s, … Continue reading

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Mad Science #3: Land Mine Follies

Two stories of mad science this time about this vicious class of weapons, and one about how they ought to be done: Radioactive Nazi Land Mines Like Mad Science #1, the first story comes from Atomic Adventures (2017) by James … Continue reading

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Mad Science #1 – Soviet Space Station Rayguns

I’ve been reading a lot of juicy stories about completely crazed projects recently, so I’d like to pass some on.  These were projects that made sense to someone at the time, but were really awful ideas, ones that you can … Continue reading

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The Least Substantial Lasts Longest

A few days ago a friend noted that this was the 40th anniversary of the VAX computer line, one of the most successful and most criticized machines ever.   Its first model was the VAX 11/780, which was announced on Oct … Continue reading

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Homo Faber

Even the children of homo sapiens can’t resist making things.   While walking through the local park, Menotomy Rocks, I came across this: It’s been there for years.    Every kid who walks by feels an urge to add a stick.   In … Continue reading

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“The Wright Brothers” and Thinking Straight

There are lots of reasons to love the story of the Wright brothers.  They came from nowhere to solve the great problem of flight, one that had defeated so many others.  They showed straight-up physical courage when flying these dangerous … Continue reading

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The Singularity Will Be Built Out of the Same Old Stuff

I work in a field, semiconductors, that is the paradigmatic example of the Singularity.  When people talk about technology zooming up the exponential growth curve, they’re talking about what I do.  Since the field began in the early 1960s, there … Continue reading

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Lead in Flint and RoHS

The scandal about lead in the Flint Michigan water supply reminded me of my own brush with lead issues.  In the 2000s a program started up in electronics called the Reduction of Hazardous Substances, RoHS.   It was intended to get … Continue reading

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A Plug for Doomed Engineers

In the early 90s I began collecting stories of engineers who came to bad ends.  That’s literally bad ends, as in executions and suicide, not just failed projects.    My own career was at a difficult phase at that time, … Continue reading

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