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How the Apple Ii Taught Programmers to Economize

By Technology Review

June 16, 2010

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Imagine trying to program a virtual machine--a software instance that mimics all the characteristics of a physical computer--on a device with 2 kilobytes of RAM. (For those of you not used to thinking in these terms, that's one two-millionth the number of kilobytes of RAM that the average computer ships with today.)

That's what Thorsten Kramp had to do when creating a virtual machine that could run on a smartcard. He and his team are now using the same expertise to program for another resource constrained environment: the tiny environmental sensors or "smart dust" that his employer, IBM, hopes businesses and individuals will deploy all over the world in order to realize the long-anticipated Internet of Things.

These "motes," as they're sometimes called, are no bigger than a key fob and run on small batteries or harvested (e.g. solar) energy. The ones Kramp has been working with, the Memsic IRIS motes.

Coincidentally, most commercially available motes have about the same specs as the 1977-era Apple II designed by Steve Wozniak himself.

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