November 23, 2022


LGP-30 on a tile floor in a German basement.
u/c-wizz / Reddit

Final week, Reddit consumer c-wizz posted a number of photos of what he referred to as “ancient computers” within the classic computing subreddit. Among the many photos have been a number of PDP-8/es and one LGP-30. Each fashions date again to the Fifties. Nevertheless, the LGP-30 stands out due to its connection to “The Story of Mel.”

“The Story of Mel” is a pc programming legend written by Ed Nather and posted to Usenet in 1983. The story particulars the travails of Mel Kaye, a pc programmer with extraordinary abilities. Within the story, Kaye does the “bulk of his programming” on an LGP-30. He inadvertently makes use of the machine to recode a Blackjack program in order that it wins, and the human participant loses each sport. When Nather was requested to repair Kaye’s mistake, he found an infinite loop managed by self-modifying code. As Kaye places it within the story, “If a program can’t rewrite its personal code, what good is it?” The feat of software program engineering impressed Nather a lot that he refused to appropriate the bug.

“If a program can’t rewrite its personal code, what good is it?”

Nather’s story grew to become so well-liked amongst laptop programmers within the 80s that it has been reposted numerous instances throughout the many years and continues to be the subject of study by programmers and hackers at present.

As for the LGP-30 itself, it’s additionally a chunk of computing historical past. It was one of many very first commercially obtainable computer systems that people may purchase and use. Solely 45 have been ever made, and the retail worth of the early private laptop was $47,000 (nearly half 1,000,000 {dollars} in at present’s cash). Solely a handful of the units are identified to exist in laptop museums at present. So, it’s a uncommon discover certainly.

Different notable customers of the LGP-30 embody meteorologist Edward Lorenz’s improvement of the unusual attractor, the butterfly impact, and chaos principle.

This explicit unit of the LGP-30 is probably going not the one referenced in The Story of Mel, however it’s not unattainable. Nevertheless, simply discovering one among them within the wild was sufficient to spark the creativeness of the customers on Reddit–A testomony to the long-lasting affect of Nather’s programming epic.

Supply: Ars Technica



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