Seeking disruptive tech

Brent Hilpert hilpert at
Wed Dec 10 17:47:50 CST 2014

On 2014-Dec-10, at 2:25 PM, Jon Elson wrote:
> On 12/10/2014 03:29 PM, Roy Hirst wrote:
>> I just realized I am the same age as the transistor (though it in fact got smaller as it got older, and I did not).
>> Does anyone know please of a forum (this one?) with interest in disruptive technology, i.e. components or processes that quickly changed the gameplan?
>> Obviously at some tipping point ICs became cheaper and easier than analog components, in 1945 V2 weapon guidance has mechanical gyros, but 15 years later a Minuteman uses quad nand gate ICs.
> Nope, the Minuteman (Autonetics D17) computer continued to use discrete
> transistors and a fixed-head disk as the main memory for QUITE a number
> of years.

I was going to mention that too, when counting 15 years, but then, minuteman was using triple-nands a couple years later (D-37C), and quad nands were there by 1965, so 20 years from the V2.

All of which kind of emphasizes Roy's point of disruptive technologies. So what are some candidates for the most-disruptive? One would be the electronic calculator, which utterly devastated the mechanical calculator business in just a few years.

I also liken this sort of discussion to my own experience, as a kid in 1972 I would go from fixing a tube radio on Tuesday, to experimenting with 7400 TTL and 7-segment LED displays on Wednesday.

>> Behind DEC's PDP-1, funky light brown paint and all, is presumably some contemporary innovation in packaging or fab process?  I never had a relationship with a PDP-1, but I could generate similar nostalgia for the first commercial use of VHDL, for instance.
> The PDP-1 was a discrete transistor computer, also.

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