Test Your Nerd Knowledge — Jun 7, 2022

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

  1. When IT professionals use the term “NIC,” what are they referring to?
  2. What was CSIRAC and what did it do for the first time in 1951?
  3. Designer Robert Propst is credited with being the first person to introduce this staple of offices everywhere. What was it?


And here are the answers:

  1. Network Interface Controller. A NIC is a computer hardware component that connects a computer to a computer network. Also known as a network interface card, LAN adapter or physical network interface, the modern NIC offers interfaces to the host processors and network traffic processing. Most new computers have either Ethernet capabilities integrated into the motherboard chipset or use an inexpensive dedicated Ethernet chip connected through the PCI or PCI Express bus. A separate NIC is generally no longer needed. If the card or controller is not integrated into the motherboard, it may be an integrated component in a router, printer interface or USB device.
  2. The first computer to play electronic music. CSIRAC was Australia’s first digital computer, and the fifth stored program computer in the world. It is the oldest surviving first-generation electronic computer and was the first in the world to play digital music. CSIRAC created sounds by sending raw pulses from the computer data bus to the speaker. If casually programmed, these pulses would arrive at the speaker at somewhat random times, resulting in the blurting type of sound used by programmers to indicate points in the program’s execution.
  3. The cubicle. This headline in a 2014 article from Wired magazine says it all: “The Cubicle You Call Hell Was Designed to Set You Free.” The story goes that, in 1964, the Herman Miller furniture design company rolled out the Action Office. The traditional office floorplan of row after row of desks for most workers and boxy, lifeless offices for executives had, in Robert Propst’s opinion, led to low morale and decreased productivity. Propst’s team developed the Action Office as a three-walled space that employees could personalize, moving desktops and drawers around, and repositioning the fabric-covered walls into pleasing designs that invited adaptability and collaboration. The problem arose when business operators took the cubicle concept and shoe-horned it into a strategy for cramming more workers into an existing space and creating the reverse effect, dehumanizing the work experience, and giving way to the modern concept of the “Cubicle Farm.”