Museum of Mathematics and Computer Science

The museum was established in 2013 with the aim of offering cultural proposals relating to Mathematics and Information Technology.

By Sistema Museale Università di Parma

Frase di Alan TurinSistema Museale Università di Parma

The beginning...

The quote from the father of computer science, Alan Turing, introduces us to the path that will show the evolution of the "thinking machine" starting from the computer for ballistic calculations and decryption. There is no Nobel Prize for computer science but there is a prize Turing of equal prestige. The film "The Imitation Games" tells how it all began and highlights the contribution that Turing made to the development of artificial intelligence.

Programma 101Sistema Museale Università di Parma

Perottina

The first PC was not produced in Silicon Valley but was produced in Italy, in Ivrea, where there was the headquarters of Olivetti which in 1965 produced "Program 101" called "Perottina" from the name of Eng. Pier Giorgio Perotto who had created it. The electronics fair that took place in New York in 1965 made it famous all over the world.

mini computer PDP11/34 e PDP 11/40Sistema Museale Università di Parma

Mini Computer

The computers of the 1970s were not really "personal", although there had already been the first attempts to produce them. In the '70s the so-called "mini computers" were "mini" when compared to the huge computers of the' 50s that occupied walls and rooms, these occupied "only" one door of a wardrobe, like the example of Digital PDP shown in photo. Subsequent computers that could be placed on a table were called "micro" like the Olivetti P6060.

Mini Computer Olivetti P6060Sistema Museale Università di Parma

Micro Computer

Subsequent computers that could be placed on a table were called "micro" like the Olivetti P6060.

Perforatrice schede per PDP11Sistema Museale Università di Parma

Cards for the PDP

At the beginning, the data is entered through levers and the result is expressed by the switching on and off of lights. Punch cards replace the levers. Each card corresponds to an instruction encoded by a sequence of holes made by the card punch. Complex instructions require numerous cards. Having to change only a part of an instruction sequence, only a few cards will need to be changed.

Tastiera per PDP11Sistema Museale Università di Parma

The cards are then replaced by the terminal, connected with a cable to the computer: the data is entered with the keyboard and when the PDP performs the calculations, the output is printed on the sheet of paper.

VideoTerminale VT100Sistema Museale Università di Parma

Video Terminal

The evolution of the terminal is the video terminal, that is, a terminal with a monitor. To the left of the PDPs you can see the VT100 from Digital, perhaps the most famous terminal in history. The data is saved on large magnetic disks (the white cylindrical containers above the PDP) that fit into the appropriate drawer. Years later these discs still work!

mini computer PDP11/34 e PDP 11/40Sistema Museale Università di Parma

5 Mb are stored on a magnetic disk: making a parallelism with today's files, a disk would archive half a photo taken with a new generation mobile phone or 5 minutes of music.

Floppy diskSistema Museale Università di Parma

Archiving of data

The evolution of the terminal is the video terminal, that is, a terminal with a monitor. To the left of the PDPs you can see the VT100 from Digital, perhaps the most famous terminal in history. The data is saved on large magnetic disks (the white cylindrical containers above the PDP) that fit into the appropriate drawer. Years later these discs still work!

Apple ISistema Museale Università di Parma

Apple I

In the beginning, Computers used the keyboard and a specific language (DOS) to give orders to the computer. The graphical user interface (GUI), which uses icons and windows and which required a mouse, was invented at Xerox in the 1960s but only for internal use and was not marketed .... until arrival of the Apple.

Mouse di legnoSistema Museale Università di Parma

Mouse

The "mouse" was also born in the 60s but then it will be lost and forgotten until 1984. This is a reproduction of the first mouse built by prof. Engelbart, a Stanford lecturer who needed a pointer for videoconferencing. It was made of wood, a material that is easy to find and model and was also much larger than the mice we are used to because it housed two wheels: one for vertical scrolling and the other for horizontal scrolling.

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