July 16th, 2017
by Brian Walker, Greg Walker and Chance Browne
In this episode, Hi Flagston outsmarts Mr. Foofram’s new “super brain” computer. Or was it just a lucky guess?
It’s hard to imagine with today’s mini-computers that these machines used to take up an entire room. The drawing in the last panel of the Sunday page above is certainly an exaggeration but isn’t too far from the truth.
The IBM 360 was the first in a series of mainframe computers designed to perform a complete set of functions for commercial and scientific applications. The original model could handle 34,500 calculations per second and had a memory range from 8 to 64 KB. The 360 was extremely successful and allowed customers to upgrade to more powerful systems as they became available.
The 360 system used by NASA in the 1960s cost $3.5 million, had 64 KB of memory and operated at a speed of 0.043 MHz. By comparison, an iPhone 5 has 1.38 GHz of speed and 1 GB of RAM. In other words, the devices we carry around in our pockets are exponentially more powerful than the original mainframe computers of the 1960s.
Next week we will be featuring another classic Sunday page from 1966 in our Timeline series, so be sure to check back.
– Brian Walker
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