Category Archives: digital history

September 1, 2008, 7:05 pm

It’s FDR’s world

In the San Francisco Chronicle today, John King writes about New Deal public projects in the Bay Area.  Gray Brechin has channeled his longtime interest in this history into the California’s Living New Deal Project, an index of public works by the WPA and other agencies across the state.  Naturally there’s an interactive map, so you can drill down to your neighborhood.  Out here on the foggy margins of San Francisco, for instance, there’s a golf course, two shooting ranges, and many features of our storied zoo.  But other projects are more picturesque.  I’ve mentioned one of our branch libraries here before, a beautiful example of the synthetic “Spanish” style.   My favorite, though, for sentimental reasons and more, is the Rose Garden in Berkeley.  On the bay side of Euclid Avenue in the hills, an amphitheater drops through ring on ring of rose-beds, focused at once on the…

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June 23, 2008, 8:32 am

You never forget your first time.

As a youth I was fortunate that my parents put me in nerd camp—computer programming classes at the Science Center. They had a Honeywell mainframe, in a room full of tape drives and disk drives, the disks that looked like stacks of LPs in a covered cake dish made of clear plastic.1 All that was housed in a room with plate-glass windows, and on the other side was a room full of terminals. Many if not most of them were basically teletypes with keyboards—every time you hit a key, it would dot-matrix the character right onto a roll of perforated paper that just kept on scrolling as you typed. At first I preferred these to the LED screens, because they reminded me of typewriters and if you had to debug code you reached behind the machine and lifted up a yard of paper to scan down it, holding a pencil, making you look like someone reading the stock-ticker or telegraph tape in an old…

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