Friday, September 10, 2010

(empo-tuulwey) How to misuse a storage medium and a household device and create a whole new industry

Now, of course, when you misuse things, you can do very bad things, perhaps resulting in the death of a person.

But on the other hand, misusing things could change the world as we know it. Whether it's changed for better or worse is up to you.

Several decades ago, data were stored on big reels of magnetic tape that were attached to the monstrous computers of the day. In those days, you would need these huge reels of tape to input data into your computer system.

That's when IBM engineer Forrest Parry had a really stupid idea - take that magnetic tape, cut it up into little bits, and attach each little bit to a piece of plastic. Never mind the fact that the little snippet of tape could store hardly anything - Parry wanted to do this anyway. The fact that he was working on a government contract was part of it - as we all know, the government has no common sense whatsoever. If you want to read about all the stupid ideas that the government has conceived, just use the Internet to look them up.

So anyway, Parry continued to pursue his stupid idea, but he couldn't figure out how to attach the magnetic tape to the piece of plastic. That's when Parry's wife had an even stupider idea. According to Wikipedia, Mrs. Parry said:

Here, let me try the iron.

From that beginning, things progressed, a bunch of ISO standards were created, and we gave birth to the credit card industry...and the driver's license industry...and a bunch of other industries that, even today, are dependent upon magstripe cards.
blog comments powered by Disqus