Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home


Classical Computers

THE contraption that forms an indispensable part of your life wouldn't be occupying your desktop or lap-top (in case of laptops) at this moment without the development of its predecessors - the classical computers. Classical computers would be better defined as power-guzzling behemoths built for calculations that we certainly can live without in times of severe load shedding. Besides if you were the owner of a classical machine from the 1950s now you would probably be sleeping under the platform of Kamalapur Rail Station because you wouldn't have much space in your house left after accommodating it anyway!

Harvard Mark I: This was the first really reliable electro-mechanical computer and to many this was the machine that ushered in the real dawn of the computer age. Its building elements were switches, relays, rotating shafts, and clutches. It was built using 765,000 components and hundreds of miles of wire, composing a volume of 51 feet (16 m) in length, eight feet (2.4 m) in height, and two feet (~61 cm) deep. It had a weight of about 10,000 pounds (4500 kg). The Mark I had 60 sets of 24 switches for manual data entry and could store 72 numbers, each 23 decimal digits long. It could do three additions or subtractions in a second. A multiplication took six seconds, a division took 15.3 seconds, and a logarithm or a trigonometric function took over one minute - slow enough to ensure you flunk your math exam!

ENIAC: The ENIAC was the first general-purpose, electronic computer meaning the clutters of motile mechanical parts were finally replaced by finer components like diodes, resistors, relays and capacitors. Despite gobbling up 680 square feet (63 m2), of floor space and consuming 150 kW of power, the ENIAC boasted speeds one thousand times faster than electro-mechanical machines, a leap in computing power that no single machine has since matched. The surge in speed now meant 5000 additions or subtractions could be completed per second. Multiplications and divisions were slower however- 357 and 35 per second respectively.

Macintosh: While Mark I and ENIAC were gargantuan calculators for not so personal uses, Macintosh, the first successful mouse-driven computer with a graphic user interface was tailor made for home users. And the price tag of $2500 certainly signified its intention to conquer the domestic frontier. Applications that came as part of the package included MacPaint, which made use of the mouse, and MacWrite, which demonstrated WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) word processing.

Osborne I: When the Macintosh initiated the era of personal computers - very few people realised that in the 21st century our powerless power bosses would provide enough dark hours to send our desktop computers into perennial hibernation. At least Adam Osborne had the foresight! He completed the first portable computer, the Osborne I, which weighed 24 pounds and cost $1,795. The price made the machine especially attractive, as it included software worth about $1,500. The machine featured a 5-inch display, 64 kilobytes of memory, a modem, and two 5 1/4-inch floppy disk drives. And finally the modern laptop was born to ensure our dark hours had some silver linings at least!

By Nayeem Islam
(Sources: en.wikipedia.org, www.computerhistory.org)


Black Sunrises

She reaches the station too late one day
And sees the train stealing her life away
She yells and shouts to the silent night
Her endless questions get buried in its stillness

She fights back her tears and starts running
She runs bare feet on the greasy rail tracks
As the chilling wind blows against her scarred body

She sees the dazzling bright lights
Illuminating the worlds on both her sides
But in front she gazes on to the colourless black

There is no trace of that train
Just the piercing whistling between the hours
Its dawn now and the sun shines on her right and left
But a black sunrise meets her ahead
And she still runs fighting with her darkness

By Pavana Khan


TV Tales

“Raisa! Raaaaaaaaisa! Where are you!?”, said the lady. “I can't find her any where. Oh, here you are, why are you crying so much?

“Sakshi's husband just died in “Husband Bhi Kabhi Zinda Tha” , was Raisa's reply.

“Awwwww, don't worry, he will be reborn next week”, comforted her mother.

This was the fiftieth time Sakshi's husband had died and also the fiftieth time he was going to be reborn. The conversation above is extremely common in an average house of Dhaka today. Nobody seems to be even watching anything but Hindi serials now. People have turned into addicts. In my twelve years of research so far, ( I'm thirteen) what I have observed is people are starting to get extremely happy, grief stricken, terrified and all other emotions possible, all based on these Hindi serials. These shows never stop. They don't have seasons, breaks or any innovation in them. Their minimum requirements are:

1. They should go as slow as snails.

2. There should be a huge family with every relative possible.

3. The mother-in-law has to hate her daughter-in-law but love her son.

I have always tried to take people away from this and

make them watch Bangla or at least English shows, but the usual answer is:

“ What should I watch then!? Star World? The name doesn't even make sense, I thought stars were outside the world, in space. HA HA HA!!”

After 137 of these kinds of answers, I still haven't given up.

As Raisa was as happy as possible the week after, The HSAD (Hindi Serial Addiction Disorder) continues.

By Ahnaf Zarif Rahman


Journey to the unknown

IT'S strange how every single person in his/her deathbed resembles each other. Their temporary souls are a chaotic combination of varying, distinctive emotions. His mind cruises a complicated, bizarre maze. Memories start playing hide and seek - memories that were long ago forgotten produce glimpses of familiar faces. In no time, his mind turns into a vibrant canvas painted with numerous contrasting colours.

She looked like an old, battered trashcan with several dents lying at the hospital ward. Her marble eyes had nearly lost their vision and she could hardly see her own reflection in the mirror. At ninety, she only had a single adjective to describe life, “Thrilling! Like a roller coaster ride.” Time and tide wait for none and she was no exception.

Miserable looking faces painted with tears were standing close by her. Among them were her two daughters, their husbands and children. But she could no longer feel their presence. Her mind had started to walk back down memory lane and it was suddenly hit by a wave of nostalgia. She reminisced the unforgettable, sweet memories that life had to offer her.

She closed her eyes and there she was buried deep beneath her mother's sari, listening intently to bedtime stories. Her mother was once again tying her hair into a ponytail with her favourite red ribbons and waving goodbye to her before school. She took a closer look at her mother; her charming smile with dimples, those almond-shaped eyes and her curly black hair tied neatly into a bun - everything about her was simply amazing. Next, she found herself in the same hospital ward just twenty years before. A nurse dressed in a white, dull uniform was carrying a tiny, adorable toddler covered in a little white blanket towards her. She was growing impatient to see her face and as soon as their eyes met, she was completely enthralled. It was a divine sensation, so transcendental that words were scarce to describe it.

She came back to reality. Now everyone had left the ward except her granddaughter. She gave her a weak smile and gently stroked her hair. All of a sudden his face flashed into her mind. It was amazing how all these years had passed and time was unable to erase that vivid picture of him from her mind. She was walking hand in hand with him in the rain, neither of them saying anything. He was the only person she had ever enjoyed silence with. She always felt protected in his presence, as if nothing in this entire world could harm her.

She closed her eyes and was sure that he was there beside her. His hands gently rested on her forehead and she knew right then that the time had come. She had finally achieved salvation. The angels had finally carried her off.

By Sukanya Sravasti


home | Issues | The Daily Star Home

2010 The Daily Star