Museum of Science and Industry (was: Interesting places in Chicago area?)

From: Jim Battle <>
Date: Tue Mar 12 22:55:46 2002

At 05:07 PM 3/12/02 -0600, you wrote:
>Not sure of computer or salvage places since I haven't lived there since '76
>(I was born and raised in Chi-town though) but for recreation on an
>inquisitive or "nred" scale you might take a full day at the Museum of
>Science and Industry around 55th and Michigan Ave (south side but on the
>lake). Their full directions and info are on the web at

It was quite influential in my life path. Who knows, maybe I would have
turned out the same, but besides all the cool off-topic stuff displayed
there, two of the exhibits I still recall and are more on topic as they
relate to computers.

One exhibit was a little display about the size of a podium. It had an
exposed PC board on top with heavy gauge copper in an odd pattern. A metal
"pen" was used to draw a digit from 0 to 9, and based on which traces you
touched and the sequence you touched them in, it would display what digit
you had written. On the front was the schematic of the thing, containing
many dozens of transistors. Was it the first palm pilot? This was
probably around 1974 or so.

The other display I recall vividly was the tic-tac-toe machine implemented
as a clacking relay computer. You could see the relays activating behind
the plexiglass. In 8th grade when I understood just the basics of digital
logic I attempted to design my own tic-tac-toe computer using
transistor/diode/resistor logic. I didn't understand how "state" worked,
so I had a massive tangle of combinational logic. I probably would have
had to feed 100V in to the inputs to get a measurable output after so many
diode drops. In high school, I had access to a Wang 2200 computer, and
after a few warm up programs, I wrote a BASIC program to play tic tac
toe. My first implementation was along the lines of the combinational
logic -- just a lot of straight "if this and this and this then do that"

I visited there about five years ago and it didn't hold the same appeal. I
don't know if it was just that I had matured and the wonder of the world
has been lost, or if the displays just have a different flavor now that
doesn't appeal to me.

Ah, memories.

Jim Battle ==
Received on Tue Mar 12 2002 - 22:55:46 GMT

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