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2013

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The Apple II, circa 1978. Its OS is now available... will it be ported? (via Computer History Museum)

 

Back in the 70’s, Apple was just a fledgling start-up created by a couple of guys named Steve and Ronald Wayne in an effort to bring affordable personal computers to the masses. The company released their first home-brew, known as the Apple I, computer back in 1976. It was sold as a kit consisting of a motherboard, CPU, RAM and a rudimentary textual video chip (for text only). A year later the company became incorporated, Ronald sold his shares back to the company (for $800- probably not a good decision) and released the Apple II to the market. Their next instalment was very different from their first offering, which came completely assembled and featured onboard sound, color graphics, motherboard expansion slots for RAM (up to 48k could be installed), gaming paddles and a BASIC programming language built-in. There were no hard-drives or disk-drives for that matter, as disk-drives back in the day relied on complex hardware and software combinations to run correctly. To solve that problem, Wozniak designed a disk controller (unveiled at CES in 1978) using several integrated circuits running emulation software to function. To gain access to organized data stored on the disk, Apple turned to Shepardson Microsystems’ Paul Laughton, who created Apple’s file manager, BASIC interface and utilities, which became known as ‘Apple II DOS version 3.1’. Shift forward in time by 35 years and Paul, along with the DigiBarn Computer Museum, finally released the 1978 source code for those who may be interested (for non-commercial use only). The site has also released source code for other popular software, including Adobe Photoshop along with Apple’s McPaint and Quickdraw.

 

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IBM researchers in Africa. Those are some heavy formulas! (via IBM)

 

IBM recently opened its twelfth global research laboratory in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, in an effort to tap local resources both natural and human to bolster the city’s community through technology. According to the company’s press release, the lab’s agenda is to help with the development of cognitive computing technologies to help the city address issues such as public health, education and agriculture. Current project initiatives include reducing traffic congestion through mobile phones using an application (Twende Twende) that take advantage of the city’s local camera systems to provide users with alternate routes. Digital advertising for small businesses is another initiative; small business owners can promote themselves through mobile phone advertising (77% of Nairobi’s population currently use mobile technology).

 

 

Finally, the research lab is promoting a new resident scientist program for universities in Kenya and other surrounding countries to work alongside IBM researchers to develop new technologies. It is estimated that in 20 years the city will have the largest population of young people on the planet, who will be seeking new and upcoming technology. Students looking to pursue carriers in the sciences can only help put Nairobi on the technology map to compete with those found in Asia, Europe and the US. Other companies have transitioned over to Kenya to establish regional headquarters or manufacturing plants, including GE, Google, Airtel and Cisco Systems to tap into the country’s burgeoning resources. Unfortunately, the country is ripe with poverty, corruption (specifically in terms of water and sanitation companies) and the onslaught of terrorism (for example the recent Al-Shabaab attack on Westgate Mall), which could have a negative impact for tech companies looking for long-term investment. Still, it gives those in one of the most prominent African nations the opportunity to become the continent’s ‘Silicon Valley’.

 

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