fon-spel toy - notes from the shareware hypercard stack

  ...long, long ago, in a building far, far away, my first phone-number spelling program drove the sluggish oil-cooled transistor circuits of a big old punchcard-lineprinter monster...  i was inspired by Arthur Clarke's sf short story "The Nine Billion Names of God", and i guess Clarke had long-long-long ago consulted the Primordial phone-number speller on some ancient air-cooled vacuum-tube computer!

fon-spel 1 calculated all 2187 permutations for each 7 digit phone-number and printed them in columns across three big (17-by-11-inch) pages.  this was good because you could hang up the print-out on the wall like a map and see the entire list in one big eyefull...  i ran off batches for my relatives, friends, and neighbors to show them how a very serious, large, expensive business machine could do something pretty silly (well anyway, we thought it was silly then :-)

fon-spel 2 ran on an early Sun workstation - a Unix function written in C generated the same list as a text file to be piped thru Unix utilities for sorting, filtering, and formatting...  (see the original C source code in this stack)

[fonspel.gif 40k screenshot]

[ pause here for a short sociopolitical / historical commentary... ]
ok, i'll admit it,
we mere humans were a little scared of the old Computers
with their busy speed, cryptic accuracy, & atomic stamina...
we fed in THE PROGRAM and all of THE DATA,
hoped it had been DONE CORRECTLY,
tried to relax and wait patiently for THE ANSWER to PRINT OUT...
finally, after countless edit-compile-execute-debug cycles,
we remembered to include an important bit of information,
and here it is again...

fon-spel 3, this hypercard stack, is a modest hand-operated computer tool designed to augment the vast powers of a much greater tool: the human mind...  with this software, you get to use both your computer and your mind, in collaboration.  i hope you enjoy it!

also see - download fonspel - my intergalactic voicemail gateway - smalltalk blues