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Throwback Thursday

THROWBACK THURSDAY: First Electronic Commercial Computer

On June 14,univac 1951 UNIVAC, the bungalow-size first commercial electronic computer,  was demonstrated in Philadelphia by the staff of the U.S. Census Bureau. UNIVAC, which stood for Universal Automatic Computer, was developed by J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly, makers of ENIAC, the first general-purpose electronic digital computer. These giant computers, which used thousands of vacuum tubes for computation, were the forerunners of  today’s digital computers.

The UNIVAC 1 was the first commercial computer to attract widespread public attention. UNIVAC computers were used in many different applications but utilities, insurance companies and the US military were major customers. One biblical scholar even used a Univac 1 to compile a concordance to the King James version of the Bible. Created by Presper Eckert and John Mauchly — designers of the earlier ENIAC computer — the UNIVAC 1 used 5,200 vacuum tubes and weighed 29,000 pounds. Remington Rand eventually sold 46 Univac 1s at more than $1 million each.

The search for mechanical devices to aid computation began in ancient times. The abacus, developed in various forms by the Babylonians, abacus 2Chinese, and Romans, was by definition the first digital computer because it calculated values by using digits. A mechanical digital calculating machine was built in France in 1642, but a 19th century Englishman, Charles Babbage, is credited with devising most of the principles on which modern computers are based. His “Analytical Engine,” begun in the 1830s and never completed for lack of funds, was based on a mechanical loom and would have been the first programmable computer.

By the 1920s, companies such as the International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) were supplying governments and businesses with complex punch-card tabulating systems, but these mechanical devices had only a fraction of the calculating power of the first electronic digital computer, the Atanasoff-Berry Computer (ABC).

ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator), was completed in 1946 at a cost of nearly $500,000. It took up 15,000 feet, employed 17,000 vacuum tubes, and was programmed by plugging and replugging some 6,000 switches. It was first used in a calculation for Los Alamos Laboratories in December 1945, and in February 1946 it was formally dedicated.

UNIVAC and other first-generation computers were replaced by transistor computers of the late 1950s, which were smaller, used less power, and could perform nearly a thousand times more operations per second. These were, in turn, supplanted by the integrated-circuit machines of the mid-1960s and 1970s. In the 1980s, the development of the microprocessor made possible small, powerful computers such as the personal computer, and more recently the laptop and hand-held computers.

eniac to handheld

Read more about the history of computers at binarymove.com and about UNIVAC at History.com

Throwback Thursday: CNN Debuts on June 1, 1980

On this day in 1980, CNN (Cable News Network), the world’s first 24-hour television news network, CNNmade its debut. The network signed on at 6 p.m. EST from its headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. CNN went on to change the notion that news could only be reported at fixed times throughout the day. At the time of CNN’s launch, TV news was dominated by three major networks–ABC, CBS and NBC–and their nightly 30-minute broadcasts. Initially available in less than two million U.S. homes, today CNN is seen in more than 89 million U.S. households and over 160 million homes internationally.

CNN was the brainchild of Ted Turner, a colorful, outspoken businessman dubbed the “Mouth of the South.” In 1970, he bought a failing Atlanta TV station that broadcast old movies and network reruns and within a few years Turner had transformed it into a “superstation,” a concept he pioneered, in which the station was beamed by satellite into homes across the country.

In its first years of operation, CNN lost money and was ridiculed as the Chicken Noodle Network. However, Turner continued to invest in building up the network’s news bureaus around the world and in 1983, bought Satellite News Channel, owned in part by ABC, and thereby eliminated CNN’s main competitor. CNN eventually came to be known for covering live events around the world as they happened, with its reporters often beating the major networks to the scene. CNN gained significant traction with its live coverage of the Persian Gulf War in 1991 and the network’s audience grew along with the increasing popularity of cable television during the 1990s.

THROWBACK THURSDAY: Robert Owen, Father of Personnel Management

Born May 14, 1771, social and educational reformer Robert Owen, is generally referred to as the father of personnel management. The Human Resources field evolved first in 18th century Europe from a simple idea by Robert Owen and Charles Babbage during the industrial revolution. These men knew that people were crucial to the success of an organization. They expressed that the well being of employees led to perfect work. Without healthy workers, the organization would not survive. HR later emerged as a specific field in the early 20th century, influenced by Frederick Winslow Taylor (1856-1915). Taylor explored what he termed “scientific management” others later referred to “Taylorism”, striving to improve economic efficiency in manufacturing jobs. He eventually keyed in on one of the principal inputs into the manufacturing process—labor—sparking inquiry into workforce productivity.

Meanwhile, in England C S Myers, inspired by unexpected problems among soldiers which had alarmed generals and politicians in the First World War, set up a National Institute of Industrial Psychology, planting the seeds for the human relations movement, which on both sides of the Atlantic built on the research through the Hawthorne studies (1924-1932) and others how stimuli, unrelated to financial compensation and working conditions, could yield more productive workers.

Having profited enormously from enterprise in the early Industrial Revolution, Robert Owen set about trying to remedy its excesses through environmental, educational, factory and law reform. Synthesizing reformist ideas from the Age of Enlightenment and drawing on his own experience as an industrialist he constructed A New View of Society (1816), a rallying call for widespread social change, with education at its core. His New Lanark cotton mills, the test-bed for his ideas, became internationally famous.

Owen had raised the demand for  ten-hour day in year 1810, and instituted it in his cotton mills. By 1817 he had formulated the goal of the eight-hour day and coined the slogan “8 hours labor, 8 hours recreation, 8 hours full rest.” The eight-hour day movement forms part of the early history for the celebration of the Labor Day, and May Day in many nations and cultures.

Working Conditions

Owen’s extremely advanced system of factory management, which he pioneered at the New Lanark,  gained him credibility, not only as a successful businessman, but also as a benevolent employer. He proved that commercial success could be achieved without exploitation of those employed; his approach to social and economic organization was extended beyond the mill floor into every aspect of village life.

“Eight hours’ daily labor is enough for any human being, and under proper arrangements sufficient to afford an ample supply of food, raiment and shelter, or the necessaries and comforts of life, and for the remainder of his time, every person is entitled to education, recreation and sleep”. (Foundation Axioms of Owen’s “Society for Promoting National Regeneration”, 1833)

Women
Robert Owen’s views had particular appeal for women. At a time when men were hostile to women’s rights, he courted controversy by denouncing marriage, as it then existed, as a form of slavery for women. “Women will be no longer made the slaves of, or dependent upon men…. They will be equal in education, rights, privileges and personal liberty”. (Book of the New Moral World: Sixth Part, 1841)

THROWBACK THURSDAY: “Good to the Last Drop”

 

On May 11, 1926, Maxwell House Coffee registered its “Good to the last drop” Maxwell House adtrademark, which still appears on cans of Maxwell House Coffee to this day. The product and its name go back to 1886 in the Maxwell House hotel in Nashville, Tennessee. The hotel served its own blend of coffee that was perfected by Joel Cheek, and he was persuaded by guests to market his brew.

THROWBACK THURSDAY: The History & Origin of Easter Eggs

eggs

{from the Cadbury website}

Eggs have been associated with the Christian festival of Easter, which celebrates the death and resurrection of Christ, since the early days of the church. However, Christian customs connected with Easter eggs are to some extent adaptations of ancient pagan practices related to spring rites.

The egg has long been a symbol of ‘fertility’, ‘rebirth’ and ‘the beginning’. In Egyptian mythology, the phoenix burns its nest to be reborn later from the egg that is left; Hindu scriptures relate that the world developed from an egg. With the rise of Christianity in Western Europe, the church adapted many pagan customs and the egg, as a symbol of new life, came to represent the Resurrection. Some Christians regard the egg as a symbol for the stone rolled from the sepulchre.

The earliest Easter eggs were hen or duck eggs decorated at home in bright colors with vegetable dye and charcoal. Orthodox Christians and many cultures continue to dye Easter eggs, often decorating them with flowers. The 17th and 18th centuries saw the manufacture of egg-shaped toys, which were given to children at Easter. The Victorians had cardboard, ‘plush’ and satin covered eggs filled with Easter gifts and chocolates.

Chocolate Easter eggs were first made in Europe in the early 19th century, with France and Germany taking the lead in this new artistic confectionery. Some early eggs were solid, as the technique for mass-producing moulded chocolate had not been devised. The production of the first hollow chocolate eggs must have been painstaking, as the molds were lined with paste chocolate one at a time.

Pysanky {from NPR}Eggs 1

Some elevate the egg into an elaborate art, like the heavily jewel-encrusted Faberge eggs that were favored by the Russian czars starting in the 19th century.

One ancient form of egg art comes to us from Ukraine. For centuries, Ukrainians have been drawing intricate patterns on pysanky — eggs decorated using a traditional method that involves a stylus and wax. Contemporary artists have adapted these methods to create eggs that speak to the anxieties of our age: Life is precious, and fragile. Eggs are, too.

The elaborate patterns found on traditional Ukrainian pysanky are believed to offer protection against evil.

“There’s an ancient legend that as long as pysanky are made, evil will not prevail in the world,” says pysanky artist Joan Brander, who has been making pysanky for more than 60 years.

The pysansky tradition, says Brander, dates back to Ukrainian spring rituals in pre-Christian times. The tradition was incorporated into the Christian church, but the old symbols endure. A pysanka with a bird on it, when given to a young married couple, is a wish for children. A pysanka thrown into the field would be a wish for a good harvest.

What about the Easter Egg hunt?

One source suggested that it grew out of the tradition of German children searching for hidden pretzels during the Easter season. Since children were hiding nests for the Easter Bunny to fill with eggs at the same time they were hunting pretzels, it was only a small leap to begin hiding eggs instead.

Happy Easter Season from all of us at The Hire Solution!