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  • This Post is Not About Footwear

    Posted by David Foster on June 19th, 2018 (All posts by )

    100th anniversary of the flip-flop


    The quintessential digital device.


    6 Responses to “This Post is Not About Footwear”

    1. Anonymous Says:

      In California in the 50s and 60s, we called them “go aheads.”

      You cannot walk backwards in them. They come off.

    2. David Foster Says:

      Anon, was that a big thing in California in the 50s & 60s…walking backwards? Maybe the delayed effect of head trauma (from falling over) explains some of the dynamics we are seeing currently…

    3. MCS Says:

      Should probably read the link.

      Flip-Flop (memory) + relays (logic) = computer. The first ones were exactly that.

    4. Mike K Says:

      “Should probably read the link.”

      Thank you, My programming was on a vacuum tube machine but I had not heard the term.

      I do know about megaflops and terraflops but those are floating point operations.

    5. MCS Says:

      A whole bit. A single precision floating point is 32 bits long. I especially liked all of the batteries to provide the different voltages to make the vacuum tube circuit work.

      There were and still are latching relays that are used for single bit memories in a lot of control systems. The circuit at the link would operate at much higher frequencies than any mechanical system and seems to be the first application of purely electronic switching.

      Maybe the “Kitty Hawk” of the computer age?

    6. David Foster Says:

      Indeed, pretty sophisticated control systems were built using relays, including telephone switching equipment, automatic elevators, and railroad interlocking and traffic control systems. I wrote about the latter here–Robot Emeritus: Railroad Centralized Traffic Control.