Magnetic: The History of Computing

Hosted by Nikki Bonomo

Humans have always looked at how to do things easier. Whether its to use an Abacus to quickly count inventory, automate accounting math using a machine, or quickly calculating ballistics trajectories using wires and Ferrite rings. Now, most of us use hand-held computers to simplify our lives, and the functions are doing just that! But, how did we get here? And who is responsible for all these great ideas? We'll explore this, looking into the origins of some of the most amazing devices and the people who came up with the ideas that led to them. Tune in for the science, thinking (and sometimes controversy) behind the History of Computing!

12 Episodes

Society & Culture

Landing the Eagle


In this episode we wrap up the greatest achievements and challenges in the computing era of the 1960's.  We learn about Howard Tindall, and how MIT became a dominant force in Apollo.  We also learn about Core Rope Memory and how Seamstresses helped program Apollo capsules.  This is the last episode of Season 1, it's time to go offline and research how a new era of computing arrives: Microcomputing.  

Magnetic: The History of Computing Ep 11: Fly By Wire


The early 1960's were full of gigantic leaps in computing technology, and a lot of it was used in NASA to get astronauts into space!  We see the first use of the word Mainframes, and see how Neil Armstrong used a new invention called "secondary storage" to try to save his own life!

The History of Computing Ep 10: Computers and the Space Race


We go knee-deep into available computing technology in the late 1950's and what it was used for: Missles and Satellites.  We see the creation of the NASA RTCC in a muddy field and revisit what IBM is up to.

Magnetic: The History of Computing Ep. 9: Silicon Valley


In this episode, we learn about what company Walt Disney had the pleasure of being the first customer of, we learn about the Traitorous 8, a sweet Missouri man and a PhD grad from Stanford who had the exact same idea at the same time, and how NOT to run an office. We also uneventfully visit the man who coined the phrase "Silicon Valley" who himself earned the nickname "the Hitler of the 1980's" later in life. We have our first visit with a reoccurring name on this podcast, and it's a man we will grow to know as the Mayor.

Magnetic: The History of Computing ep 8


Episode 8 covers the amazing achievements of women in early computing, including an excellent mathematician who makes sense of programming languages, and a bombshell actress who invented something that makes it possible for us to use computers wirelessly.

Magnetic: The History of Computing Ep 7


In this episode, we get a look at the first commercially available computer: UNIVAC.  We also touch upon the first vacuum tube-free computer and learn the frightening, yet triumphant story behind the inventor of the circuit board.

Magnetic: the History of Computing ep 6


In the 1930's, we continued experimenting with magnets and electricity, creating places to save data for the first time, including a Memory Drum and tape (thanks to BASF).  Alan Turing puts human learning to a machine for the first time, and two computers across the northeast do math together. 

Magnetic: The History of Computing ep 5


In this episode, I set out to explain the creation of the teletype, because it happens right around this time, in the 1920’s.  It’s a huge development in the way devices talk to each other, and a jump toward the modem and networking. 

Magnetic: The History of Computing ep 4


This episode looks at some really interesting inventions with the Bulb and Electricity that played a major role in the development of the electronic computer.  This includes vacuum tubes and Cathode Ray Tubes (CRT's).

Magnetic: The History of Computing


In this episode, we solve the problem of calculating from inaccurate tables, learn about NYU Art Professor and inventor of the first electrical language: Samuel Morse, and we discover how the Tabulating Machine company got its start and made one man very rich (and the census a lot easier).  Tune in!

Magnetic: the History of Computing


In this first episode, I go over the beginning of computing: why did we start this thing in the first place?  We review the Abacus, the plague, and the loom, and see why those factored into the device you're reading this on. 

Magnetic: The History of Computing


A couple of things we’ll cover in this first episode is who I am and what I’m doing with this Podcast.  I thought it would be a good idea to tell you what I have to do with Computing and technology before I take you on this huge road trip through the entire history of computing. 

We’ve got a lot to talk about, and I’ve mapped it out in 18 episodes so far, but I have a feeling we’ll go a little beyond that.  I’m looking forward to this next year or so together with you, while we take this journey.

(OldComputerPods) ©Sean Haas, 2020