Global Skywatch

Ted’s essays

47 computer and laser years

I was a US Air Force computer operator in 1970, running state-of-the-art commercial computers at a time most people had never seen any computer and had no idea what they did or how. The picture on the right has mostly peripheral equipment with the RCA 301 computer being the big box in the center against the wall. In the systems that I operated, that box had 17K (17,000 characters) of core storage. By comparison, today you can buy an Arduino Micro with 32K (about double) of flash memory and A BUNCH MORE computing power for $19.80 … or about $1.80 in 1970 dollars. Yesterday I posted computers circa 1970 because at the same time I was an Air Force computer […]

Santa Rosa firestorm

This was a strange one. For a century, one house could burn to the ground while those on either side were saved by firefighters. The Santa Rosa firestorm was somehow different. I would have scoffed at someone suggesting I should evacuate my city-lot home because there was a fire miles away. That is simply NOT A THREAT. But I would have been wrong. How many people perished in those fires because they were students of history and widely known fire science instead of obeyers of orders from higher authorities? But this one was different. Freaky-different. Glass melted. Aluminum melted. Steel melted. Cultured stone melted. GONE. Appliances are gone. Every dang entire house turned to ash. That simply does not happen. […]