A Journey Through Memory Management

In a previous FOSS Voices article, we shared Jessie Frazelle’s tour of various data storage methods used throughout computing history. This week, we’re sharing a recent article from The New Stack, in which Richard MacManus takes readers on a journey from cathode ray memory tubes to JavaScript memory management.

To introduce the topic, MacManus says, “while reading George Dyson’s computer history book Turing’s Cathedral earlier this year, I was struck by how physical the act of programming was back in the 1940s and 50s, when the age of computers began.”

An image accompanying the article shows John von Neumann standing by the MANIAC computer in 1952. “At hip level in the photo are a group of Williams cathode-ray memory tubes, each one storing 1,024 bits,” MacManus explains. And, “when von Neumann and his colleagues programmed the MANIAC … they had to understand precisely how memory worked, in order to physically manipulate it.”

Since that time, MacManus notes, “we’ve gone from having to program instructions—using machine language, no less—into a cathode-ray memory tube, to 80% of the time copying and pasting reusable modules into an internet service (and having no idea where in the world it will actually get computed).

Read the complete article at The New Stack.

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