Santa Clara Valley

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Santa Clara Valley

“The Santa Clara Valley (the valley between Palo Alto and San Jose) was known as the “Valley of Heart’s Delight” because it was an endless expanse of orchards. Its agriculture was growing rapidly and, thanks to the invention of the refrigerated railroad car, it soon became the largest fruit production and packing region in the world. At one point there were 39 canneries in the valley, notably the San Jose Fruit Packing Company. At the peak, Chinese workers represented 48% of agricultural labor in the Santa Clara Valley. In 1863 the second railroad of California (after the pioneering Sacramento-Folsom of 1855) connected San Francisco to Mayfield (now Churhill Avenue in Palo Alto), a rough town popular with loggers (and later with students), and then to San Jose (in 1864) with a daily ride that took three and a half hours. The Menlo Park depot (built in 1867) was the major station on that route until Palo Alto began to grow.”

“The first transcontinental railroad was finally completed in 1869, linking the East Coast with Oakland (and then by ferry to San Francisco).”

“Perhaps the first “high tech” of the Bay Area came in the form of the aerial tramway invented in 1867 by the British-born Andrew Hallidie, a former gold miner and a bridge builder. Installed on high towers that frequently overlooked incredibly steep slopes, it was used across the Sierra Nevada to transport ore, supplies and miners. In 1873 Hallidie, using a similar design with help from German-born engineer William Ep, inaugurated the Clay Street Hill Railroad in San Francisco, the world’s first cable-car system.”

“At the time the Bay Area also had its flirt with oil, in fact predating the celebrated Edward Doheny well of 1892 that started the oil rush in Los Angeles. In 1879 a San Francisco banker and politician, Charles Felton, founded the Pacific Coast Oil Company (PCO). Within a few months the new company discovered large oil deposits on Moody Gulch, a few kilometers west of San Jose in the south bay. In 1880 PCO opened a refinery in the island Alameda, located near Oakland by the bay, i.e. with good access to the railroad terminal and the port. In 1902 Rockefeller’s Standard Oil, that two years earlier had acquired PCO, built a new refinery further north, in what is now Richmond, one of the largest and most advanced refineries in the world. In 1907 this refinery invented Zerolene, one of the most successful Standard Oil products.”

“The agricultural boom increased the demand for firewood and lumber, which made the fortune of the Santa Clara Valley Mill & Lumber Company of Felton. (But mostly the boom made the fortune of the “railroad barons”, who provided the main form of transportation for goods and people. In fact, Santa Clara county confronted the arrogant railroad empires in a case that became famous in and had consequences for the whole nation: in 1886 the Supreme Court of the USA decreed that corporations should have the same rights as persons, and therefore the Southern Pacific Railroad Company was entitled to deduct mortgage from its taxable income just like any household). And, of course, ports dotted the bay, notably Redwood City’s port that shipped lumber to San Francisco. Redwood City was located in the “Peninsula,” i.e. the stretch of land between San Francisco and Palo Alto.”

“Most of the Peninsula belonged to San Mateo County and was underpopulated. The county road from San Francisco to Belmont (north of Redwood City) served the wealthy San Franciscan who had bought a mansion in the countryside, typically for the summer, when San Francisco was blanketed by its famous fog. These mansions usually controlled a large tract of land and constituted self-sufficient agricultural units. The First World War (1917) helped populate one town, Menlo Park, just north of Palo Alto, where the Army established Camp Fremont to train tens of thousands of soldiers.”

“The Bay Area became one in the early years of the 20th century. In the 1880s Frank Smith, who had made his fortune with his borax mines in Nevada and Death Valley, settled in Oakland and began to create a network of railways that eventually (1903) would become the Key System, connecting San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose.”

“Not much else was going on in the sleepy bay accidentally discovered in 1769 by Spanish explorer Gaspar de Portola.”

“A lot was going in the rest of the US. The nation was booming with innovative ideas revolutionizing agriculture, industry, mining and transportation. Since there were more and more numbers to crunch, it is not surprising that in those years inventors devised several computing machines. The most influential were William Burroughs’ adding machine of 1885 and Herman Hollerith’s tabulator of 1890 (chosen for the national census). However, the new sensation at the turn of the century was electricity, which was enabling a whole new spectrum of appliances, from the light bulb to the phonograph.”

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Stanford University – 1885 AD

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Stanford University

Stanford University seal 2003.svg
Motto German: Die Luft der Freiheit weht. Motto in English: “The wind of freedom blows”

Stanford University, officially Leland Stanford Junior University,[12] is a private research university in Stanford, California. Stanford is ranked among the most prestigious universities in the world by numerous major education publications.[13][14][15]

The university was founded in 1885 by Leland and Jane Stanford in memory of their only child, Leland Stanford Jr., who had died of typhoid fever at age 15 the previous year.[2] Stanford was a U.S. Senator and former Governor of California who made his fortune as a railroad tycoon. The school admitted its first students on October 1, 1891,[2][3] as a coeducational and non-denominational institution.

Stanford University struggled financially after the death of Leland Stanford in 1893 and again after much of the campus was damaged by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.[16] Following World War II, Provost Frederick Terman supported faculty and graduates’ entrepreneurialism to build self-sufficient local industry in what would later be known as Silicon Valley.[17] The university is also one of the top fundraising institutions in the country, becoming the first school to raise more than a billion dollars in a year.[18]

“Until 1919 the only road connecting San Jose to San Francisco was the old “El Camino Real,” a dusty country road (at the time known as US 101) that snaked its way through orchards and barren hills. The only way to travel quickly was the Southern Pacific Railroad. It had been acquired by the railway empire of Leland Stanford, the president of the company charged with the western section of the first transcontinental railroad. Stanford was a former California governor and a US senator. The Stanfords donated land and money to start a university near their farm after their only son, Leland Junior, died. They had a station built on the Southern Pacific route, the station of University Park, later renamed Palo Alto.”

“Stanford University opened in 1891. It was not the first university of the Bay Area: the Berkeley campus of the University of California had opened in 1873 at the other end of the bay. However, Leland was a man with a plan: his express goal was to create the Harvard of the West, something like New York State’s Cornell University. At the time, despite the huge sums of money offered to them by Leland, neither the President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston, nor the President of Cornell were willing to move to such a primitive place as the Bay Area from their comfortable East Coast cities; so Leland had to content himself with a humbler choice: a relatively young Cornell graduate, David Starr Jordan. In 1892 he hired Albert Pruden Carmen from the College of New Jersey (later renamed Princeton University) to teach electricity (at the time still a new discipline) within the Physics Department. The following year, another Princeton graduate, Fred Perrine, became the first professor of electrical engineering within a department furnished with equipment donated by local electrical firms.”

View of the main quadrangle of Stanford University with Memorial Church in the center background from across the grass-covered Oval.

“The light bulb (Edison) and the alternating current motor (Tesla) had been invented on the East Coast, but California pioneered their domestic use. In 1860s Horatio Livermore’s Natoma Water and Mining Company, based in Folsom, had built an extensive network of dams to supply water to the miners of the Gold Rush on the American River. Leveraging that investment, in July 1895 his company opened a 35 km hydroelectric power line to bring electricity from Folsom to Sacramento, with water powering four colossal electrical generators (dynamos), the first time that high-voltage alternating current had been successfully conducted over a long distance. In September 1895 Sacramento celebrated the coming of electricity with a Grand Electrical Carnival, and very soon the streets of the state’s capital were roamed by electric streetcars. Unlike on the East Coast, where electricity mainly served the industry, in the Bay Area and in Los Angeles electricity first came to the cities for public and domestic use. That also explains why electric consumer goods (such as the washing machine) would spread more rapidly in California, creating a myth of high-tech living.”

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History Software Engineering

Actual Bug Found – First “Debugging” – 1947 A.D.

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Actual Bug Found

Howard Aiken (1900–1973), William “Bill” Burke (dates unavailable), Grace Murray Hopper (1906–1992)

“Harvard professor Howard Aiken completed the Mark II computer in 1947 for the Naval Proving Ground in Dahlgren, Virginia. With 13,000 high-speed electromechanical relays, the Mark II processed 10-digit decimal numbers, performed floating-point operations, and read its instructions from punched paper tape. Today we still use the phrase “Harvard architecture” to describe computers that separately store their programs from their data, unlike the “von Neumann” machines that store code and data in the same memory.

But what makes the Mark II memorable is not the way it was built or its paper tape, but what happened on September 9, 1947. On that day at 10:00 a.m., the computer failed a test, producing the number 2.130476415 instead of 2.130676415. The operators ran another test at 11:00 a.m., and then another at 3:25 p.m. Finally, at 3:45 p.m., the computer’s operators, including William “Bill” Burke, traced the problem to a moth that was lodged inside Relay #70, Panel F. The operators carefully removed the bug and affixed it to the laboratory notebook, with the notation “First actual case of bug being found.”

Burke ended up following the computer to Dahlgren, where he worked for several years. One of the other operators was the charismatic pioneer Grace Murray Hopper, who had volunteered for the US Navy in 1943, joined the Harvard staff as a research fellow in 1946, and then moved to the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation in 1949 as a senior mathematician, where she helped the company to develop high-level computer languages. Grace Hopper didn’t actually find the bug, but she told the story so well, and so many times, that many histories now erroneously credit her with the discovery. As for the word bug, it had been used to describe faults in machines as far back as 1875; according to the Oxford English Dictionary, in 1889, Thomas Edison told a journalist that he had stayed up two nights in a row discovering, and fixing, a bug in his phonograph.”

SEE ALSO COBOL Computer Language (1960)

“The moth found trapped between points at Relay #70, Panel F, of the Mark II Aiken Relay Calculator while it was being tested at Harvard University. The operators affixed the moth to the computer log with the entry “First actual case of bug being found.””

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DevSecOps-Security-Privacy History

Vernam Cipher – 1917 A.D.

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Vernam Cipher

Gilbert Vernam (1890–1960), Joseph Mauborgne (1881–1971)

“Most encryption algorithms are computationally secure. This means that while it’s theoretically possible to crack the cipher by trying every possible encryption key, in practice this isn’t possible because trying all of the keys would require too much computational power.

More than a century ago, Gilbert Vernam and Joseph Mauborgne came up with a cryptographic system that is theoretically secure: even with an infinite amount of computer power, it is impossible to crack a message encrypted with the Vernam Cipher, no matter how fast computers ever become.

Vernam’s cipher, today called a one-time pad, is unbreakable because the encrypted message, decrypted with an incorrect key, can result in a plausible-looking message. Indeed, it can result in every possible message, since the key is the same length as the message. That is, for any given ciphertext, there is a key that makes it decrypt as a verse from the Bible, a few lines from Shakespeare, and the text on this page. Without a way to distinguish a correct from an incorrect decryption, the cipher is theoretically unbreakable.

Working at American Telephone and Telegraph Company (now AT&T®) in 1917, Vernam created a stream cipher that encrypted messages one character at a time by combining each character of the message with a character of a key. At first Vernam thought that key could be simply another message, but the following year, working with Joseph Mauborgne, a captain in the US Army Signal Corps, the two realized that the key must be random and nonrepeating. This improved security substantially: if the key were another message, it would be possible to distinguish a probable key from one that was improbable. But if the key was truly random, then any key was equally possible. Together, the two inventors created what we now call a one-time pad, one of only two known encryption systems that are provably unbreakable (the other being quantum cryptography).

As it turns out, a banker named Frank Miller had also invented the concept of the one-time pad in 1882, but his pen-and-paper system was not widely publicized or used.”

SEE ALSO Manchester SSEM (1948), RSA Encryption (1977), Advanced Encryption Standard (2001)

One-time pad device used with SIGTOT cipher system used aboard President Roosevelt’s Douglas C-54 airplane.

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Strowger Step-by-Step Switch – 1891 A.D.

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Strowger Step-by-Step Switch

Almon Brown Strowger (1839–1902)

“The Bell Telephone Company was incorporated in July 1877, and by the 1880s it was quickly expanding. The switchboards that connected phones together and completed calls were manually run by operators.

The early phone system didn’t have dials or buttons. Instead, there was a crank, connected to a tiny electrical generator. Users would pick up the phone and turn the crank, and electricity would travel down the phone line to signal the operator.

Almon Strowger was an undertaker in Kansas City, Missouri. He noticed that his business had declined as the telephone became more popular. Strowger learned that one of the telephone operators was married to his competitor, and whenever a phone call came in for the undertaker, she would direct the call to her husband. Motivated, Strowger invented the step-by-step switch, an electromechanical device that would complete a circuit between one phone and a bank of others depending on a sequence of electric pulses sent down the phone line. Instead of relying on an operator to connect, Strowger envisioned that people would tap out a code using a pair of push buttons.

Working with his nephew, Strowger built a working model and got a patent. Although other inventors had experimented with operator-free dialing systems—thousands of patents were filed—this system “worked with reasonable accuracy,” according to a 1953 article in the Bell Laboratories Record.

Strowger, family members, and investors then created the Strowger Automatic Telephone Exchange Company in 1891. They went to La Porte, Indiana, which had recently lost its telephone system because of a patent dispute between the local independent operator and the Bell Telephone System, and set up the world’s first automated telephone exchange with direct dialing—at least for local calls—in 1892.

The switch was called “step-by-step” because of the way that a telephone call was completed, one dialed digit at a time. Step-by-step exchanges remained in service throughout the United States until 1999, when the last was removed from service, replaced by the #5ESS computerized local exchange.”

SEE ALSO Digital Long Distance (1962)

“The friction drive of the Western Electric 7A Rotary, No. 7001 Line Finder. The bevel gear on the right has a steady rotary motion and does not use an electromagnet for stepping.”

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Data Science - Big Data History

Herman Hollerith Tabulating the US Census – 1890 AD

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Tabulating the US Census

Herman Hollerith (1860–1929)

Herman Hollerith circa 1888

Herman Hollerith (February 29, 1860 – November 17, 1929) was an American businessman, inventor, and statistician who developed an electromechanical tabulating machine for punched cards to assist in summarizing information and, later, in accounting. His invention of the punched card tabulating machine, patented in 1884, marks the beginning of the era of semiautomatic data processing systems, and his concept dominated that landscape for nearly a century.[1][2]

Hollerith founded a company that was amalgamated in 1911 with several other companies to form the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company. In 1924, the company was renamed “International Business Machines” (IBM) and became one of the largest and most successful companies of the 20th century. Hollerith is regarded as one of the seminal figures in the development of data processing.[3]

“When the US Constitution was ratified, it mandated that the government conduct an “actual enumeration” of every free person in the union every 10 years. As the number of people in the nation grew, the enumeration took longer and longer to complete. The 1880 Census counted 50,189,209 people. It took 31,382 people to perform the count and eight years to tabulate the results, producing 21,458 pages of published reports. So, in 1888, the Census Bureau held a competition to find a better way to process and tabulate the data.

American inventor Herman Hollerith had worked briefly at the Census Bureau prior to the 1880 census and in 1882 joined the faculty of MIT, where he taught mechanical engineering and experimented with mechanical tabulation systems. His early systems used long rolls of paper tape with data represented as punched holes. Then, on a railroad trip to the American West, Hollerith saw how conductors made holes on paper tickets corresponding to a person’s hair color, eye color, and so on, so that tickets couldn’t be reused by other passengers. Hollerith immediately switched his systems to use paper cards.”

Replica of Hollerith tabulating machine with sorting box, circa 1890. The “sorting box” was an adjunct to, and controlled by, the tabulator. The “sorter”, an independent machine, was a later development.[11]

“Hollerith entered the 1888 competition and won, his system being dramatically faster than those of the two other entrants. On January 8, 1889, he was awarded a US patent on “method, system and apparatus for compiling statistics,” originally filed September 23, 1884.”

Hollerith punched card

“Hollerith’s system consisted of a slightly curved card measuring 3.25 by 7.375 inches (83 millimeters by 187 millimeters). A human operator punched holes in the card with a device called a Pantographic Card Punch, with holes in specific locations to signify a person’s gender, marital status, race, ownership and indebtedness of farms and homes, and other information. For tabulation, the cards were passed through a reader with micro switches to detect the presence of holes and electromechanical circuits to perform the actual tabulation.”

SEE ALSO The Jacquard Loom (1801), ENIAC (1943)

A woman with a Hollerith Pantographic Card Punch, which creates holes in specific locations to signify a persons gender, marital status, and other information. This photo is from the 1940 US census.”

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