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Drawing with a Computer in 1963

Ivan Sutherland created a computer program called Sketchpad in the early 1960's as his PhD thesis. These were the days of punch-card programming, which meant that making a complex interactive program was extremely challenging -- particularly if it needed to use an interactive Graphical User Interface, which was unheard of at the time. But that's what Sutherland did -- Sketchpad was an interactive drawing program in which the user drew with a light-pen while pressing switches alongside the screen. Sketchpad basically invented a category of software -- Computer Aided Drafting, or CAD -- and it all ran on a 1958 computer with roughly 272k of memory. (By comparison, the laptop I'm typing on now has 15,420 times as much memory, but no light pen.)

In the video below, computer pioneer Alan Kay discusses a famous video of Sutherland's Sketchpad demo. This is some nerdy, but important, computer history. Kay says: "I once asked Ivan Sutherland: 'How could you possibly have done the first interactive graphics program, the first nonprocedural programming language, the first object oriented software system, all in one year? He said, 'Well, I didn't know it was hard.'"

For more 60's video on Sketchpad, check out this movie and its second part.

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Star Wars © & TM 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
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Pop Culture
How to Perform the Star Wars Theme—On Calculators
Star Wars © & TM 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
Star Wars © & TM 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

The iconic Star Wars theme has been recreated with glass harps, theremins, and even cat meows. Now, Laughing Squid reports that the team over at YouTube channel It’s a small world have created a version that can be played on calculators.

The channel’s math-related music videos feature covers of popular songs like Luis Fonsi’s "Despacito," Ed Sheeran’s "Shape of You," and the Pirates of the Caribbean theme, all of which are performed on two or more calculators. The Star Wars theme, though, is played across five devices, positioned together into a makeshift keyboard of sorts.

The video begins with a math-musician who transcribes number combinations into notes. Then, they break into an elaborate practice chord sequence on two, and then four, calculators. Once they’re all warmed up, they begin playing the epic opening song we all know and love, which you can hear for yourself in all its electronic glory below.

[h/t Laughing Squid]

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Somnox, Kickstarter
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technology
This Cuddly Robot Is Designed to Lull You to Sleep
Somnox, Kickstarter
Somnox, Kickstarter

For people seeking all the benefits of a human sleeping companion without the human part, there’s a new Kickstarter-backed product. As Mashable reports, Somnox, the self-proclaimed “world’s first sleep robot,” is designed to give you a more comfortable, energizing night’s rest.

The bean-shaped cushion is the perfect size and shape for cuddling as you drift to sleep. Beneath its soft exterior is hardware designed to get you to deep sleep faster. Somnox rises and falls to mimic the movements of human breathing. Lay with the pillow long enough and the designers claim your breath will naturally sync to its rhythm, thus prepping your body for sleep.

Somnox can also be set to play sounds and music. Some content, like guided mediation, lullabies, and gentle heart beats, come built-in, but you can also upload audio of your own. And you don’t need to worry about shutting it off: Once you've customized its breathing and audio behaviors through the app, the device does what it's programed to do and powers down automatically.

Having a robotic sleep aide will cost you: You need to pledge about $533 to the team’s Kickstarter to reserve one. Even with the steep price tag, the campaign surpassed its funding goal.

[h/t Mashable]

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