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Revenge of the mainframe


...Mr Cray's vision, from the Univac 1604, which he designed in the 1950s, to the Cray 1 supercomputer (1976), was one of centralised computing power and control: a liquid-nitrogen cooled black shrine in the middle of a sealed white room to which supplicants came carrying programs.

Until the 1980s computers were all mainframes, and Mr Cray's were the biggest of the lot. Then came the ubiquitous, ever-cheaper and ever-more-powerful personal computer.

Mr Cray's response was tī opt for ever-more exotic technology. He spent $200 million on development without a single sale. Most other mainframe and supercomputer companies have redesigned their machines to find a niche in an increasingly PC-dominated world.

Their approach recognises that the old model of users with dumb terminals submitting programs to be run overnight by data-processing beasts in the basement has gone the way of the punchcard. But the idea of a powerful, reliable machine that can run the payroll, handle sales and churn out bills - all the boring-but-essential work of running a company - still makes sense. ...


1 Are shrines and supplicants usually associated with a) science,

b) religion, or c) com­puting?

2 If something is ubiquitous, is it rare?

3 If you opt for something, do you a) choose it, or b) reject it?

4 If you have a niche in the market, do you have a very large part of the market?

5 Are punchcards still used in computing?

6 Is it possible to churn out something in small numbers?

7 Does the article suggest that mainframes are no longer necessary?


Exercise 9

Complete the following sentences with a word from the box. Write your answers in the puzzle and read the vertical word, defining a kind of a link






a When a person needs to store or manipulate numbers, letters or characters he uses a ______.

b The program which tells the computers what to do is kept inside the computer in a place called ________.

c One thousand bytes of information is _______.

d Very large and power computers used for complex mathematical tasks are called ______.

e To run a single program people often use mid-sized computers called ______, which also provide system access to either a single user or to a limited number of users at a time.

f There is a computer named a ______ computer which cane take all your programs and files with you whereas you go.

g Users can’t still manage without very large computers or _______ executing jobs very rapidly and easily and providing the access for many users simultaneously.

h The capability of a computer to manipulate numbers, letters or characters or to perform different kind of operations is defined as _________.

Unit 2

Date: 2015-12-11; view: 944

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