Test Your Nerd Knowledge–Jan 11, 2022

Here’s a review of this week’s questions:

  1. What computer component, named the “IBM350,” was invented at IBM in 1953?
  2. What computer hardware component, developed in the 1980’s, uses radio frequency to communicate with a computer?
  3. What US state is home to Dell’s corporate headquarters, as well as software innovators such as Unified Infotech, Magneto IT, and Sigma Data Systems?

And here are the answers:

1. The hard drive. The IBM 350 was the storage system for IBM’s RAMAC (Random Access Method of Accounting and Control) computer, which required an entire room to operate. The hard disk drive storage system alone was about the size of two refrigerators. Inside were stacked 50 24-inch platters. For that, RAMAC customers ended up with less than 5MB—that’s right, megabytes of storage. IBM’s marketing people didn’t want to make RAMAC store any more data than that. They had no idea how to convince customers they’d need more storage than that.

2. The wireless mouse. The first versions of a computer mouse, dating back to the 1950’s, were intricately designed mechanical contraptions. As technology advanced, the trackball gave way to the optical mouse, and in 1984, Logitech introduced the Cordless MouseMan. An August 1991 issue of Compute! Magazine offered this review: “…programmed with an adjustable ballistic effect that causes the cursor to speed up and slow down with your movements…installation is a snap, a radio transmitter in the mouse unit controls the onscreen pointer. Its eight-channel receiver plugs into your computer’s serial port or PS/2 dedicated port.”

3. Texas. Texas ranks third, after California and New York, on the list of the top states for software jobs, according to CIO magazine. The cluster of tech firms in the Austin area has been nicknamed, “Silicon Hills,” and these companies go a long way in propping up the local economy. The start-up infrastructure has expanded to bring along new companies and sustain old ones.