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    Re: millenium - 2000 or 2001?
    From: Roger M. Derby
    Date: 1999 Dec 27, 3:09 PM

    Craig wrote:
    > Of course the OFFICIAL TIMEKEEPER has an opinion, and his opinion is the one
    > that matters.  You may think it's 3:00 P.M., but if he says its not, then
    > you are wrong.  If he says the new millennium starts January 01, 2001, and
    > you disagree, then you are wrong.  That's pretty simple.
    That's your opinion.
    Respect for authority is vastly overrated as a characteristic for creative
    people.  To borrow a phrase from Tom Swift, a design team which wants to improve
    the shovel may come up with a back hoe, but they usually won't invent dynamite.
    > Incidentally, I've been working with computer number systems since 1977, and
    > I know very well how computers count; I may have taught you how to do the
    > math.
    Well, let's see.  I wrote my first program, in machine language on the original
    Illiac, in 1959.  I really don't remember my instructors' names.  We you part of
    the Physics department at Urbana at that time?
    Illiac used sexadecimal arithmetic, WW2 surplus teletype machines, and you got
    pretty good at reading the code of punched paper tape.  We had to have Christmas
    tree foil ropes in the air-conditioning ducts to drain the static charge off the
    cooling air.  Otherwise the electrostatic charge would build up and write random
    bits to the William's Tube memory (1 K of 40 bit words.)  (Yes, they changed the
    name of base 16 systems to hexadecimal later.  Those guys at IBM weren't allowed
    anything to do with sex.)
    That was after I'd spent a couple of years teaching analog computers at the
    U.S.Army's Guided Missile School on Fort Bliss.  By 1977 I'd been designing
    special purpose computer systems for seventeen years.  Yes, some of the first
    ones included vacuum tubes.  And no, I didn't give my more experienced
    co-workers any credit either.
    > Fortunately, my experience covers more than computers and I know
    > there are other number systems, some without zero, such as the one which
    > started our calendar system.
    There are Arabic number systems and there are codes by which a tally can be
    kept.  A number system involves variables and operators.  If your non-zero
    number system includes subtraction, how does it represent the result of using
    that operator on two equal variables?  If you want to have fun, you might
    consider designing an ALU which uses negative radix arithmetic.  (There was an
    erroneous opinion once, much debated, that these had some inherent speed
    advantage over the normal, positive, based systems.  Ask nice and I'll tell you
    > Incidentally, as the calendar we use is based on the birth of Jesus, it is
    > wrong by about five or six years.  The "new" millennium has come and gone.
    > Hope you enjoyed it!
    I'm planning to enjoy the party on December 31st in Buenos Aires.  What is being
    celebrated is irrelevant.
    > Happy New Year!
    You too.

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