The second Computer Bowl sponsored by The Computer Museum was held in Boston in April 1990

Master Index Current Directory Index Go to SkepticTank Go to Human Rights activist Keith Henson Go to Scientology cult

Skeptic Tank!

The second Computer Bowl sponsored by The Computer Museum was held in Boston in April 1990. The questions used are listed below. For a more detailed report see the August 1990 issue of Communications of the ACM (CACM v33n8). [Keep in mind these questions were posed in early 1990! Some of the answers may be out of date.] ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- ROUND ONE QUESTIONS 1. The summer of 1977 was a major year for personal computers. In that year three famous PC's were introduced. What were they? 2. Ethernet was named a networking standard in 1980 in a joint public announcement by three famous computer companies. What were their names? 3. According to the Computer Industry Almanac, California has the most computer companies in America, with over 38% of the total. Massachusetts is number 2. Within plus or minus 5%, what is Massachusetts' share of the nation's computer companies? 4. In 1980, one of the largest public stock offerings of modern times was made by a computer company. The size of the offering was the largest since the Ford Motor Company's in 1956. What was the computer company? 5. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak are best known for the Apple computer they developed. But they also teamed up to design a popular arcade game for Atari. What was the name of the game? Was it, Space Invaders, Breakout, Asteroids, or Space Wars? 6. What now defunct computer company used this animal as part of an advertising campaign? [photo of a Saint Bernard dog sculpture made out of electronic components] 7. The abacus was one of the earliest counting devices, probably originating in Babylonia and spreading to other countries. Of China, Greece, and Japan, which received the abacus first? 8. In the past, the Chinese used the abacus to do their national census. They stopped using it and replaced it with a computer. When did the Chinese dump the abacus in favor of computers -- was it 1972, 1977, or 1982? 9. In 1989, 16% of NeXT, Inc. was sold for $100M to what company? 10. In the comic strip "Doonesbury", Mark learns to program a computer. What computer does Mark use in "Doonesbury"? 11. In the comic strip "Bloom County", the character Oliver Wendall Jones has a personal computer. What is the name of that computer? 12. Again in "Bloom County", before getting his Banana Junior, Oliver Wendall Jones owned another computer. What was it? 13. The National Computer Conference reached its peak as a trade show during the 1980s. And in its best year 97,000 people attended. What year was that? Was it 1983, 1985, or 1987? 14. Comdex has become one of the dominant trade shows in the computer industry. In what year was the first comdex held? Was it 1978, 1980, or 1982? ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- ROUND TWO QUESTIONS 1. During the development of computers in the 1930s and 1940s, what was not used for storing computer data: old movie film, aluminum tape, or snake scales? 2. The Cray II supercomputer has a nickname inspired by the froth created in its liquid cooling system. What is that nickname? 3. At least three computer companies were named after their founders but these founders no longer work for the companies. Can you name three of those companies? 4. Computer company CEO's are famous for their job hopping. I'll name the succession of computer companies worked for -- you name the CEO. a. IBM, Shugart, Seagate b. Prime, Apollo, Ardent, Stardent c. AT&T, Apollo, Honeywell-Bull 5. One computer company CEO is unlikely to leave his company. According to Computer Reseller News, he is the highest paid executive in the computer industry. Can you tell us his company and his name? 6. Compaq Computer Company made the Fortune 500 list in record time. How many years did it take Compaq to break into the Fortune 500? Was it two years, four years, or six years? 7. In desktop publishing we often refer to TIFF files. What do the letters in TIFF stand for? 8. What was the first major movie to use computer-aided animation: Soylent Green, Futureworld, or Star Wars? 9. The first use of the phrase "personal computer" was reportedly used to describe a computer built at MIT by some hackers. It cost nearly $3 million and it filled up one small room. What was the name of that personal computer? 10. What is the average annual sales volume for one salesperson in a typical retail computer store? Is it $172,000, $222,000 or $272,000? 11. The first university to ever have a computer science department celebrated its 25th anniversary last year. Was that university: Stanford, Carnegie-Mellon, the University of North Carolina, or MIT? 12. How much is the decimal number 27 expressed in hexadecimal? 13. Speaking of numbers, what is the ASCII decimal equivalent for the Escape key? 14. During World War II, the U.S. Army funded the development of the ENIAC computer. What did the Army want to do with the computer? Was it to calculate ballistic paths, decode secret messages, or design radar? 15. Hewlett-Packard calculators became famous for the unique approach they used to perform operations on numbers. The system was called RPN. What does RPN stand for? ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- ROUND THREE QUESTIONS 1. In 1968, the New York Stock Exchange listed its first computer software company. What was the name of that company? 2. According to The Illustrated Handbook of Desktop Publishing, what is the opposite of "letterspacing"? 3. The Mayans were pretty good mathematicians. They developed their own numbering system but it was not a base ten system. What was their numbering system based on -- was it 5, 12, or 20? 4. According to Electronic Learning magazine, as of 1988, which of the following states required public school children to take at least one computer course before graduating from high school? Texas, Massachusetts, or California? 5. In 1971, the first home video game console was marketed using a patent originally granted to Sanders Associates. The company that sold the game was Magnavox. What was the name of the game? 6. At the 1939 New York World's Fair, the Westinghouse pavilion featured a robot that could do housework. What was the name of the robot? 7. Texas Instruments developed the first popular microcomputer-based toy. What was it called? 8. Immediately after the introduction of the IBM PC, the president of Apple Computer and the head of IBM's PC division met for the first time. Where did they meet? 9. If you were to hook up a MIDI interface, you would use a MIDI plug. How many pins are in a MIDI plug? 10. MIDI has become a standard for the interface between a computer and a musical instrument. What do the letters in MIDI stand for? 11. The Commodore PET computer was not named PET because it was thought of as something to keep around the house. PET was an acronym. What do the letters stand for? 12. When using a computer you might use a spooler. The word SPOOL is also an acronym. What do the letters stand for? 13. In 1989, the Softletter newsletter ranked the top ten software companies by revenue. The top five were Microsoft, Lotus, Ashton Tate, Wordperfect, and Autodesk. Can you the name at least four of the other five companies on the list? 14. The computer language Ada was named after a person. Who was it named after? 15. The first issue of Dr. Dobb's Journal was devoted entirely to a single computer language. What was it? 16. What was the predecessor of DBASE II called? 17. What famous computer pioneer designed the punch card machines used in the 1890 U.S. Census? Was it Babbage, Hollerith, or Lord Kelvin? 18. At least three software companies have renamed themselves after the names of their leading products. Can you name up to three of the companies, giving old names and new? ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- ROUND FOUR QUESTIONS Some computers have become so famous in computer history that many people even know where they were developed. I'll give you the name of the location, you tell me what computer was developed there: 1. The place is Harvard. 2. The place is Iowa State College. 3. The place was the Moore School in Philadelphia. 4. The place was Bletchley Park in England. 5. And finally, the place was the University of Illinois. 6. Who was quoted as saying the following in Byte magazine in 1983: "I wasn't thrilled with the placement of those keys. But every place you pick to put them is not a good place for somebody. The left-hand shift key is where it is because we wanted to have the character-typing keys inside the control keys." Was it Steve Jobs, Don Estridge, or Rod Canion? 7. Who wrote "The Mythical Man-Month", a famous book about IBM's OS/360? Many successful computers have had somewhat less successful predecessors. I'll name the successful computer, you name its predecessor: 8. The Apple Macintosh. 9. The DEC PDP-8. 10. The IBM 360/90. 11. The term "desktop publishing" is now commonly used to describe the creation of high quality print documents on a desktop computer. Who first coined the phrase? Was it Jean Louis Gassee, Paul Brainerd, Bill Atkinson, or John Warnock? 12. Most of us have heard the story of why we call something that interferes with the proper operation of a computer a bug. Can you tell us what computer pioneer discovered that bug? 13. Can you tell us what kind of bug it was? 14. In what computer did she find the bug? 15. What company owns Compuserve? 16. The "Kansas City Standard" was developed as a standard for what storage medium? 17. An interlaced raster scan display monitor creates a picture by interlacing odd lines and then even lines. If the full interlaced picture is called a raster, what do you call one half of those lines? 18. Which of the following was not the name of a computer during the 1950s: Leprechaun, Mobidic, Babbage, or MANIAC? 19. What do the letters in the word "EPROM" stand for? 20. Many computer companies were founded by two people, for example, Bill Gates and Paul Allen at Microsoft. We will name the first partner; you name the second. Digital Equipment Corporation: Ken Olsen and who? 21. Computer pioneer Charles Babbage was a close friend of a famous British author who allegedly patterned a character in one of his novels after Babbage. was the author Sir Walter Scott, John Galsworthy, or Charles Dickens? 22. Was the 68000 instruction set modeled after that of the IBM 360, the Data General Nova, or the DEC PDP-11? 23. The original computer game "Adventure," featured a colossal cave and a maze of twisty little passages. These and other memorable locations in the game were inspired by actual cave formations in what state? Was it California, Tennessee, or Alaska? ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- Answers are next! ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- ANSWERS TO ROUND ONE 1. TRS-80, Commodore PET, Apple II 2. Intel, Xerox, DEC 3. 9.8% 4. Apple Computer 5. Breakout 6. Honeywell 7. Greece. It only came to China in 1200 AD. 8. 1982 9. Canon 10. PDP 11/70 11. The Banana Junior 12. IBM 6000 13. 1983 14. 1978 ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- ANSWERS TO ROUND TWO 1. Snake scales 2. Bubbles 3. Shugart, Amdahl, Cray 4a. Al Shugart b. Bill Poduska c. Roland Pampell 5. John Sculley, Apple, $2.5 million 6. Four years 7. Tagged Image File Format 8. Futureworld, in 1976 9. TX-0. It wasn't really "built by hackers", though. 10. $372,000 11. The answer they were looking for was North Carolina, but that is incorrect! The oldest computer science department in the US (and possibly the world) is at Purdue University, founded in 1962. 12. 1B 13. 27 14. Calculate ballistic paths 15. Reverse Polish Notation ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- ANSWERS TO ROUND THREE 1. Computer Sciences Corporation 2. Kerning 3. 20 4. Texas 5. Odyssey 6. Electro 7. Speak and Spell 8. The Boston Computer Society 9. Five 10. Musical Instrument Digital Interface 11. Personal Electronic Transactor 12. Simultaneous Peripheral Operations On Line 13. Borland, Adobe, Aldus, Logitech, Software Publishing 14. Ada Lovelace, assistant to Charles Babbage 15. Tiny BASIC 16. Vulcan -- there never was a DBASE I 17. Herman Hollerith 18. SSI -> Wordperfect; Micropro -> Wordstar; Relational Technology -> Ingres ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- ANSWERS TO ROUND FOUR 1. Mark I 2. Atanasoff-Berry Computer 3. ENIAC 4. Colossus 5. ILLIAC 6. Don Estridge of IBM (referring to IBM PC keyboard layout in Byte, 11/83) 7. Fred Brooks 8. Lisa 9. The PDP-5 10. The IBM Stretch 11. Paul Brainerd 12. Grace Hopper. Actually this use of "bug" considerably predates computing. 13. A moth 14. Harvard Mark II 15. H&R Block 16. Cassette tape 17. A field 18. Babbage 19. Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory 20. Harlan Anderson 21. Charles Dickens 22. PDP-11 23. Tennessee -----------------------------------------------------------------------------


E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank