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Rebuilding the IBM 1401

A gang of veteran engineers breathes new life into the hulk of an old IBM 1401 computer

2 min read
photo of a 1401 room by Mark Richards
Photo: Mark Richards

Many good things from the good old days are gone—children playing outside, fruit that tastes better than it looks, luxurious air travel. But how could anyone get nostalgic about yesterday’s big-iron computers, which were worse than today’s handhelds by every measure?

“There’s nothing like your first love,” says Ed Thelen, a retired engineer who with 30-odd other people has restored a vintage IBM 1401 computer for the Computer History Museum, in Mountain View, Calif. “It’s a mechanical machine: The tape machine has an air sensor, a little rubber diaphragm with contacts on it, and you can see it work. With these modern computers, it’s just magic—they’ve got things a few nanometers long, and you’ll never see them.”

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The EV Transition Explained: Charger Infrastructure

How many, where, and who pays?

7 min read
Illuminated electric vehicle charging stations at night in Monterey Park, California.

Electric vehicle charging stations in Monterey Park, California.


The ability to conveniently charge an EV away from home is a top concern for many EV owners. A 2022 survey of EV owners by Forbes indicates that 62 percent of respondents are so anxious about their EV range that travel plans have been affected. While “range anxiety” may be overblown, the need for an extensive and reliable external charging infrastructure is not.

Infrastructure terminology can itself be confusing. For clarity, bear in mind that a charging station is a specific physical location which has one or more charging posts. A charging post itself may have one or more ports, where each port can charge a single EV. Each post may have multiple types of service connectors to support different EV charging connector standards. And a port may supply varying power levels.

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Video Friday: Humanoid Soccer

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

4 min read
Humans and human-size humanoid robots stand together on an indoor soccer field at the beginning of a game

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your friends at IEEE Spectrum robotics. We also post a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months. Please send us your events for inclusion.

CoRL 2022: 14–18 December 2022, AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND
ICRA 2023: 29 May–2 June 2023, LONDON

Enjoy today’s videos!

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