Japan Advanced Computing Initiatives 1989-1990

Looking at these old research papers and abstracts reminds me that a great deal of what accounts for news and major advancements is hardly new. These papers are 25 years old but focus on advanced computation, machine learning, autonomous vehicles, user interfaces, lots of sensors and highly distributed computing.Screenshot 2013-12-20 12.26.25

And even these research papers are not even that old. We’ve noted before that the basic windowing/mouse interface was invented back in the 1970’s and what inspired Steve Jobs in his UI design during a visit to the labs in 1979 or at least so the story goes.

Forty years later we are finally shifting gears into gesture, touch, voice and soon more natural and intuitive tracking and contextual commands.

There are some interesting terms and frameworks to be had from some of these old papers though. Ones I like in these are:

  • The separation of processing into “Logical” as defined by conscious, analytical, serial concentrated and digital and “Intuitive” as subconscious, synthetic, parallel distributed and analog. The terms might be a little dated and missing some aspects like probabalistic methods but it feels right to think of the process as having two sides.
  • Another useful concept is the use of “soft” processing when information is incomplete and very¬†changeable versus “massively parallel distributed” for large and increasing amounts of data that is well connected.
  • The combination of these types of processing types leads to the powerful uses envisioned in terms of interfaces and intelligent machines.

The two papers in PDF form are available via these links:

Report of The Research Committee on The New Information Processing Technology

Japan Advanced Computing Interim Report


The IBM IDEA Semantic Network Database from 1990

Before I left IBM in 1992 we worked hard to devise a brand new architecture and design for the flagship IBM mainframe. The semantic network database was one innovation that figured prominently into our plans.

Today we see big funding behind database technologies like MongoDB which makes me think back to these early days.

The paper and some example diagrams we used with executives is available here in PDF format: IDEAS: Semantic Network Database, IBM, 1990.

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