ibiblio Homepage Updates

The ibiblio website is getting some updates! Over the next few months, you may notice a few changes to the site that will increase usability and reliability of the homepage.

Here are some of the updates we are currently working on:

  • More reliable Help Request Form page and new navigation tab for easier access to it, under ‘Help’
  • Added a ‘Current Student Assistants’ page
  • Update the ‘Browse’ page design
  • Improve overall navigation of the website
  • Update various pages’ content

Thank you for your continuous support–please stay tuned for ibiblio’s updates!

The Story Behind the WWW Hypertext 91 Demo Page and UNC and me

In 2013, we got a lot of nice coverage of my rediscovery of perhaps the earliest World Wide Web pages. In honor of Internaught Day August 23, 2016 — the 25th aniversary of Tim Berners-Lee making the WWW code publicly available, I’m reposting the story behind that oldest page here.

Fact is that those pages — Tim Berners-Lee’s Demonstration Page for Hypertext 91 and my own personal page — have been on the net almost continually since they were developed and/or modified on my NeXT cube during Tim’s visit to UNC in the late Fall of 1991 on his way to San Antonio and the ACM conference in December 1991. While the pages have moved from server to server as we upgraded, the pages mostly worked just fine even in modern web browsers without modification. True, there are HTML tags that are strange to us now: DD, DT, DL, NEXTID, and a requirement that each A link have a NAME field. (place view-source:http://ibiblio.org/pjones/old.page.html and view-source:http://ibiblio.org/pjones/old.paul.html in Chrome to see the old school html unrendered).

But how did those pages get created and how did they end up in Chapel Hill on my NeXT in first place?

Continue reading The Story Behind the WWW Hypertext 91 Demo Page and UNC and me

Apollo Guidance Computer on ibiblio

Screenshot of AGC

I got the idea while watching the movie Apollo 13. The instant in the movie where the AGC is powered up on Earth approach is the instant when the viewer suddenly feels that survival of the astronauts has changed from “highly unlikely” to “very probable”. It gives me a chill whenever I see it. Anyhow, on watching this one day, it struck me that it was a shame nobody knew any longer how to operate the AGC—let alone write the programs for it. (As it happens, that thought was a bit premature: only 35 years had passed since the AGC software was written, thus many of the original software developers were still reasonably young. Nevertheless, the principle is correct, since very few people could use or program the AGC.)

It had been a long journey for the AGC from the original mission computer in 1970 to the movie release in 1995 to the film inspiring Ron Burkey as he viewed it in 2003. Then not long after, Ron began recreate a simulation and later a physical version of the AGC.

Along the way, Ron collected documentation, scanned and transcribed code, and built a space for collaboration and dissemination at ibiblio/apollo.

The site and collection greater than a decade in the making recently received more attention as the code was placed for download in a github repository.

But to experience the technical complexity and to work on the project yourself, you’ll want to visit Ron’s site. You might want to begin with the ”Kinder Gentler Introduction” to the AGC unless you know a bit about the period and the Apollo already.

Continue reading Apollo Guidance Computer on ibiblio