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Before code lost its body: Things-That-Thought without Software

Nicholas Gessler



12:30 - 2pm — ACE Teleseminar Room

About Nicholas Gessler:
Ph.D Anthropology. Computational Anthropologist.
Founding co-director, Human Complex Systems Program UCLA, Director/Curator, Queen Charlotte Islands Museums 1973-1988, hardware hacker and collector of history of computing artifacts

As we move into the age of ubiquitous computing, we are in danger of forgetting how we made things think and how things are thinking today. Computation is increasingly hidden on chips sealed in plastic behind the stylish skins of our appliances, under the sexy high performance hoods of our automobiles, and behind the sizzling screens of our PCs, ATMs and cell phones. Information seems to have lost all of its materiality as we envision it freely floating in global ether of wireless connectivity. While it's a pleasure to be seduced by these virtual realities, looking underneath their thin veneers from time to time is a good sanity check. We will take a close-up look at some key material computing devices including the original complex computing mechanism - the Jacquard loom. We will look at some mechanical and electromechanical computing modules, core and cam memories and some 20th Century cryptographic machines.

A lecture/demonstration with historic artifacts.

The ACEbase is complex 522, behind Bonney Research Center, in the shadow of the Science Library.

See map at
January 2018
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