Thursday July 28th, 2016
Luke and Bottomley wanted to stress-test the TORUS algorithms for my thesis through their Differential Engine last night. With a fresh coffee, I always enjoy just sitting at the back of Luke’s lab and asking him questions while he works.
“Things must have changed a lot since you and Charles Babbage began working on the Difference and Analytical Engines.”
“Cor, yes” he replied. “All the history fellas seem to think he never got either of them built but they were dead wrong there. Many’s the night Ada and I would sit up and run her equations through. We thought up things like debugging long before Grace Hopper dreamed it up at Harvard.”
“Did you know Grace Hopper?” I asked. “Oh yeah, everyone knew Grace.” he replied before stopping and grinning. “That moth in the Mark 1 relay…”
“That was you?”
“My lips are sealed but I do claim credit for suggesting to ‘er after that we had probably just invented the first computer joke.”
Bottomly stood at the back quietly grinning: “So you’ve seen all the new paradigms over the years? Things like Cloud Computing? ” he asked.
“Cloud Computing? That’s not new….why, when Ada and me was working up a bunch of new calculations for Charlie, steam would just pour out of the Difference Engine. Pretty soon, clouds formed up near the roof of the laboratory. Anytime there was a problem with me Leyden Jars in the power supply section, then you got sparks and poof !! Thunder, lightning and rain…”
“So, what did you and Ada use to debug your algorithms in those days?”
“Well lad, Ada always reckoned a good pair of wellies and an umbrella was all she needed…which reminds me. Your TORUS algorithms are fairly cooking in there. Looks like a spot of rain is likely in here too. How about you toddle off, get your gumboots on and bring me back a fresh pot of tea?”
How could I argue with that?