Wednesday, March 17, 2010

"Hot Millions": Computers In The Late 1960s

Watched a genius movie Sunday evening, 1968's "Hot Millions," starring and co-written by Peter Ustinov, and co-starring Maggie Smith, Karl Malden and Bob Newhart. Boy, I certainly see where Ricky Gervais ripped off his entire persona, watching Ustinov's vaguely awkward, slightly stuttering brand of comedy.

In any case, aside from its clever story (and realizing the Maggie Smith was ever under 65 or that Bob Newhart can't deliver a character without stuttering), it was a blast to see the enormity of the computers that the story revolves around.

As one might expect in 1968, the mainframe database that plays a central role requires an entire room, while the keyboard and screen are so big, they don't sit on a desk—they are a desk. And Maggie's secretarial electric typewriter (above) is as large as any desktop PC.

All very amusing, particularly when I consider that this morning I whisked my laptop off the desk and carried it outside under my arm, swiping wireless internet from a loving (albeit unknowing) neighbor. The things we can do today. Sweet.Above, Bob Newhart at the computer in "Hot Millions." Below, a technology fair in the late 1960s in Paris.Above, Princeton University, at the peak of 1968 technology, with its mainframe; and below, the Whirlwind, a large-scale supercomputer of the 1950s & 1960s developed for strategic air defense. These monsters were in use until 1983.And here's what The Smoking Nun utilizes, an Apple Macbook Pro.