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History of IT

Interesting stories from the past

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BCM & Operational resilience: yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Where has it come from and what comes next?

Level of difficultyEasy
Reading time11 min

Recently, The BCI, one of the leading institutes working in the field of organizational resilience and business continuity, issued its regular report BCI Operational Resilience Report 2023 in collaboration with Riskonnect, who work with risk management solutions.

One of the questions they asked the respondents was if there was a difference between organizational resilience and operational resilience. As the answers demonstrated, for most respondents (and in most companies) these terms were used as synonyms. Having studied the report, the colleagues brought up another matter – The BCI introduced the new term of "organizational resilience" in addition to "business continuity" and "operational resilience".

If we search Habr for "Business Continuity", "DRP", "BCP", or "BIA", we’ll find quite enough posts by my colleagues (I’ve met some of them face to face and worked with the others) about data system recovery, data system testing, fault-tolerant infrastructure, and some other things. Yet, hardly any of them explain where all of it has come from, how it is changing, where it is heading – and why.

I thought the time has come to change the situation for the better and answer some of the questions like where business continuity provisions and operational resilience has come from, how they are changing, and where this trend is heading and why. To share my thoughts about development of the industry and its current de-facto state in case of a mature (or not too mature) introduction level – some things I’ve stated for my own use.

Intersections BCM & corporate functions

What is it about IT. And when will it all end

Reading time21 min

Yes, we need IT

The foundation of our civilization is tools. We didn't just evolve to a state that allowed us to use them, we began to improve them ourselves. The tools are becoming more intricate, more efficient and more perfect. It can be a hammer, an industrial robot, or a monetary relationship. 

Some of our tools are difficult to grasp or comprehend, they are more like an element or a subject of study: the Internet, the media, the transport system. It is even difficult to call them tools, rather it is a reflection of our activities. For simplicity, we will call everything that people do with their own hands a tool, meaning that they speed us up, make our life easier and more comfortable.

Why do we need tools? On the one hand, they help to solve emerging problems, on the other hand, they raise the standard of living. We enjoy creating tools. I would say it's one of our instincts. 

For the functioning of our body, we need some amount of mathematics. The processes in our head reflect this math into our language. We can write the language in the form of symbols. With the help of symbols, we can convey the discovery of one person to another or a thousand others. This allows us to build more and more complex tools. And most importantly, we really like it: the brain encourages us every time we invent or achieve something. Therefore, our tools are developing with us. The mechanisms of their development and improvement are sewn into us.

Migratory birds fly south in autumn, north in spring. It's their instinct. Ants build an anthill — it's their instinct. If people are left in satiety and peace, they begin to encode secret messages in the Bible, create complex etiquette, form mathematics, experiment with materials.

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Total votes 7: ↑6 and ↓1+5

10(+) years in the Labs

Reading time4 min

At the beginning of the year 2021, Qrator Labs is celebrating its 10 year anniversary. On January 19 our company marks the official passing of a formal 10 years longevity mark, entering its second decade of existence. 

Everything started a little bit earlier - when at the age of 10 Alex saw the Robotron K 1820 - in 2008, when Alexander Lyamin - the founder and CEO of Qrator Labs, approached the Moscow State University superiors, where he worked as a NOC engineer at the time, with an idea of a DDoS-attack mitigation research project. The MSU's network was one of the largest in the country and, as we know now, it was the best place to hatch a future technology.

That time MSU administration agreed, and Mr Lyamin took his own hardware to the university, simultaneously gathering a team. In two years, by summer 2010, the project turned out to be that successful. It courted the DDoS attack of a bandwidth exceeding the MSU's upstream bandwidth capability. And on June 22 MSU superiors gave Mr Lyamin a choice - to shut down or find money to incorporate.

Alexander Lyamin chose to incorporate with his own means, which effectively meant that the needed infrastructure must be built from scratch. The initial design should be distributed instead of concentrated within one network, which resources were not enough for this specific task. And by September 1, 2010, those first server sites were ready and running.

Flashback with us
Total votes 28: ↑28 and ↓0+28

From four to thirty two. Early years of computers and networks in Russia

Reading time38 min

Part I: From four to eight

I like to read the memoirs of people who observed the computers taking first steps in their countries. They always have something romantic about them. Usually, such memories are greatly influenced by the circumstances of that encounter with his first computer: it could be the workplace, or education establishment, it could be just an unexpected and random thing.

Like many of my friends, I was lucky to see the end of that special romantic period, when computer makers were not trying to please the regular users. They were creating the devices with distinctive and unique features they thought were right for some of reasons. This approach is clear to see in both software and hardware. Such features were making the device to sell in millions or be a commercial failure.

It all started differently for different people. Some of them were working with buzzing massive computers that could fill an entire room, the others had desktop-style home computers. There were people, who made their first computer themselves using specialist magazine publications. Different types of computers created the variety of specific traditions, interests and subcultures.
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Total votes 5: ↑4 and ↓1+3

Indebted to the Pioneers: How the Need for Innovation Sparked the Birth of the Tech Industry

Reading time4 min
Successful startups often emphasize their grassroots aspects. In part one of this series, we talked about the origins of startup culture and the DIY attitude that is prevalent in the tech industry. However, there’s more to modern startup culture than that. Today, it is in many ways defined by the innovation infrastructure that got things started and allowed the tech space to blossom, and that is the focus of this article.

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Total votes 7: ↑6 and ↓1+5

Post-cyberpunk: what you need to know about the latest trends in speculative fiction

Reading time5 min
Cyberpunk has become an integral part of our pop culture. Everyone is familiar with at least some works in the genre and their particular flavour of dystopian technologically advanced universes. But science fiction is always evolving. In this piece, we’ll be taking a look at cyberpunk’s successors and the futures they envision — from pan-African empires to shopping culture gone amok.

Total votes 8: ↑6 and ↓2+4

A Brief History of Video Conferencing: From the Beginning to Full Commercial Use

Reading time11 min
A Brief History of Video Conferencing

Video conferencing systems, so familiar to us today, have come a long way — more than a hundred years passed from fantastic ideas inspired by belief in unstoppable technical progress to the first mass implementation of video conferencing systems. A lot of dramatic events have come along the way. The way to success wasn’t easy at all.
Total votes 19: ↑15 and ↓4+11

Interview with Rob Vugteveen — an old-school FORTRAN programmer

Reading time5 min
I decided to make an interview with one of my American friends — Rob Vugteveen. He was working as a FORTRAN programmer back in 1980s, so it's quite a unique experience.

Rob Vugteveen, Carson City, Nevada, USA

K: Hi Rob. I've heard you were working as a Fortran programmer many years ago. Is that right? How the industry was looking back then?

R: Good morning, Kirill.

In the 1980s I made my living as a FORTRAN programmer in the mining industry, primarily in the processing of exploration data and presenting it graphically. We were using VAX minicomputers from Digital Equipment Corporation. This was a time when desktop PCs were growing in popularity, and procedural languages like FORTRAN were being challenged by object-oriented languages. Also, graphics display systems were shifting away from character-cell terminals to X-window-based displays.

FORTRAN (“FORmula TRANslation”) was built for computationally intensive programs, and it did not have its own graphic libraries to display information. There were companies that sold large FORTRAN subroutine libraries to provide that capability. These were not yet designed for the growing popularity of X-window technology.

When we were forced to move from expensive VAX computers to cheaper PCs, we had to write hybrid programs using FORTRAN for computations and C++ for display. It was a bit messy at first. I left that job for something completely different (building a mining museum) and haven’t really done any programming since.

FORTRAN is still used today in scientific research for computationally intensive work, but I’m sure it’s been adapted to work with graphical display systems through external subroutines written in object-oriented code.
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Total votes 17: ↑16 and ↓1+15

The History of SXSW: How It All Started

Reading time5 min
SXSW is a festival of culture and technology held every spring in Austin, Texas. It’s a global phenomenon, with hundreds of thousands attending the event every year and millions more following the media coverage. Even if you’ve never heard of it, you’ve certainly felt its influence on our culture.

But it wasn’t always that way.

Total votes 10: ↑9 and ↓1+8

The Origins of Startup Culture: How the Early Success Stories Shaped the Modern State of the Tech Industry

Reading time4 min
In the late 1930s, two Stanford students, William Hewlett and David Packard, were inspired by their professor’s plea to turn the Bay Area into the national capital of high tech. Operating out of the cheapest property they could find — a garage in suburban Palo Alto, they built their first commercial product, the HP200A oscillator. Now a private museum and a California Historic Landmark, this place is a living monument, commemorating the birth of the Silicon Valley startup culture.

This event preceded the similar and widely publicized success stories of Microsoft and Apple by more than 30 years. But it nonetheless perfectly defines the startup culture as we know it today. How come?

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Total votes 17: ↑16 and ↓1+15

Scaling a Tech Newsletter to 700k Subscribers in 300 Cities: the History of Techstars Startup Digest

Reading time6 min
Entrepreneurs are constantly looking for new tools and possibilities to develop their businesses and enrich their knowledge. One of the ways of doing this is visiting themed events — meeting colleagues in real life, exchanging experiences, and communicating with potential investors.

In fact, there are thousands of tech-focused events taking place annually. The important thing is to pick the best, most useful and easily accessible ones to optimize your time and expenses.

Techstars Startup Digest solves this problem by sending its subscribers an email newsletter with a curated list of relevant and reasonably priced events for entrepreneurs. Currently, Startup Digest consists of more than 700 curators, is approaching 700K subscriptions, and is available in more than 300 cities all around the world. Today, I’d like to share its history, how the founders came up with the idea, what it looked like in the initial stages, and what it’s going through right now.

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Total votes 23: ↑21 and ↓2+19

Android Robotics up to 2019: The real story; in 5 parts; part 1

Reading time23 min

Quite a long time ago, seven years ago to be precise, i wrote a series of posts describing the state of android robotics in the world. At the time i was a high school student, with a keen interest in android robotics, who absorbed a bit of knowledge from English, Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Russian internetz and wanted to spill it somewhere.

While the posts were not too professional, and not to my standards of today, they were worthy enough to get stolen and even get translated by unapproved English Habrahabr mirrors, and to this day, appear in searches.

After those posts were written, Habrahabr got split. Removal of everyone outside of pure coding who were considered «not cake enough» to Geektimes felt like an insult and so i left the platform. Yet, the website was reunited last year, and much to a personal surprise, fairly recently an English version of Habrahabr was released.

During all these years i managed to be kicked from one university, finished another with a thick thesis on «Usage of Robotics in Disaster Conditions», lived in the Republic of Korea for half a year, and most importantly, not only expanded my knowledge of android robotics in such ways that the Robotics folder on the main hard drive is now more than 300GB in size, but also expanded the knowledge via journeying and personally meeting projects of the past and present, creating quite a decent archive on Youtube and met not only with the robots, but the engineers and scientists as well.

While i am still nowhere to be a robotics engineer, (and in the daily life i attempt to be a traditional slice-of-life artist), i feel that my tiny gigabytes of knowledge might be worthy of sharing, and today on Habr i'm publishing the real story of Android Robotics from the beginning up to 2019.
Total votes 18: ↑17 and ↓1+16

Info Desk: «Internet Archive» — history, mission and subsidiary projects

Reading time6 min

Probably, there are not so many users on Habr who have never heard about the «Internet Archive», a service that searches and stores the digital data that is important for all mankind, whether it be the Internet pages, books, videos or other type of information.

Who manages the Internet archive, when it appeared and what is its mission? Read about it in the today's «Inquiry».
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Total votes 21: ↑21 and ↓0+21

The hard-to-catch bug in LittleBigPlanet

Reading time2 min

Author of the original post in Russian: HotWaterMusic

The history of the world's gamedev knows quite a few curious bugs that had to be tackled by developers. In fact, judging from the story that Media Molecule's CTO Alex Evans shared on his Twitter page this past weekend, many legends are still waiting to be heard. Evans is famous for his part in a demoscene performance of late 1990s and his work on the LittleBigPlanet game series and on Rag Doll Kung Fu.

The case I am referring to in this article took place ten years ago, in 2008. While working on the first part of LittleBigPlanet — an original puzzle platform video game that was to be released exclusively for PlayStation 3 — the company's developers came across a really hard-to-catch bug.

Normally, for a game to get the green light to be released for consoles, it needs to pass a certification process, i.e. meet a set of requirements predefined by the platform owner. The certification may also include more specific requirements, such as the game running smoothly without crashing for 24 hours.

The development of LittleBigPlanet was at its last stage, with just two weeks to final deployment and distribution. Suddenly a tester from the company's QA in Japan reported that the game was consistently crashing when left overnight. Now the release was evidently out of question unless the bug was fixed.
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Total votes 13: ↑13 and ↓0+13

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