About Me

Long time MCT, technical trainer and consultant. I freelance for clients big and small. Consulting and teaching my way round the world

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Entries in history (2)


The Dragonlady

Slightly off topic post from technical news and computing for today. If you have ever attended one of my classes you may know that one of my interests outside of Microsoft and all things computing is 20th century history focused on the periods between the end of the second world war and December 25th 1990. Commonly known as the cold war.

One of the most interesting technical achievements of the time was the Lockheed U-2 spyplane codename 'DragonLady' It made its maiden flight in 1955 and was designed to over fly the then Soviet Union at an altitude so high that it could not be intercepted by any Soviet intercept aircraft or AA missiles.

Developed at 'Skunkworks' plant for top secret designs and headed up by Kelly Johnson the U-2 was like nothing anyone had ever seen before, and required a few special slightly over the top elements of support to keep it operational on a day to day basis. For example, to land ond of these planes since the wings are so wide requires another U-2 pilot on the runway in a high powered corvette to guide the plane to a safe landing without scraping the wings on the tarmac.

So why am I posting about this today? Mainly because the CIA have released to the public the previously secret U-2 flight manual for the public to peruse at their pleasure. The CIA don't declassify information like this on a regular basis, but if you are interested in then cutting edge technology or even could be argued still cutting edge technology (the U-2 is still in active service) it is a great insight into the history of a time when the world was on edge. Communism on one side and capitalism on the other, back in 1955 it was not so clear cut as to who was going to come out on top.So here you go, the full 1959 version of the Dragonlady flight manual.


Utility Flight Hb 1 Mar 1959 by Jason Torchinsky


Commodore 64 turns 30: What do today's kids make of it? 

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It is 30 years since the Commodore 64 went on sale to the public.

The machine was hugely successful for its time, helping to encourage personal computing, popularise video games and pioneer homemade computer-created music.

The $595 (£399) device took its name from its US maker, Commodore International, and the fact it had 64 kilobytes of RAM memory.

The firm noted that made it substantially cheaper than other personal computers on the market offered by IBM, Apple and Atari.

Commodore highlighted the fact that since it had designed and manufactured its own chips it had been able keep costs down - and the advantage helped it become the best-selling model in North America.

In Europe it faced competition from two cheaper eight-bit rivals released over the previous year: the BBC Micro and Sinclair Spectrum.

The Commodore's ability to display 16 colours, smoothly scroll graphics and play back music through its superior SID (sound interface device) chip - even while loading programs off tape - helped win over fans, but it did not become the market leader until the late 1980s.

Debates continue to this day about which was the superior system - but what would today's youth make of the C64?

BBC News invited Commodore enthusiast Mat Allen to show schoolchildren his carefully preserved computer, at a primary school and secondary school in London.

Video Journalist: Dougal Shaw

Original Source BBC News