Tag: history

Entries for tag "history", ordered from most recent. Entry count: 6.

Warning! Some information on this page is older than 6 years now. I keep it for reference, but it probably doesn't reflect my current knowledge and beliefs.

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# What does software have to do with the linen industry?

Mar 2024

Technological advancements don't come out of nowhere. They are a sum of many small steps. Video games added interactivity to films displayed on a screen, so we call them "video games". Film, in turn, is a successor of theater, which dates back to the ancient times. No wonder that when we make modern games e.g. using Unreal Engine, we use concepts from the theater and film, like an "actor", "scene", "camera", "light".

What inspired me to write this blog post was my visit at Linen Industry Museum in Żyrardów, a city located not far from Warsaw, Poland. Formerly an industrial hub, Żyrardów now houses a museum dedicated to showcasing the rich history of the linen industry through a collection of preserved machinery and artifacts.

Probably the most interesting for us programmers is the Jacquard machine, which used punched cards to program the pattern to be created on a textile. Punched cards like this later became the medium of storing programs for the first computers. For that machine, it wasn't yet programming in terms of Turing-completeness, but it surely was a digital code that controlled the machine.

It should be no surprise that in modern computer science, we use the term "thread", which comes from the textile industry. Nvidia also uses the term "warp", which is another word from that industry. We can think of a modern GPU as a machine like this one below. There are a lot of threads running in parallel. Each thread produces one pixel of a certain color. Our role as graphics programmers is to make this machine run fast, with no jams, and make sure the correct pattern is produced on the fabric on the computer screen.

So many threads! 😀

(All photos are taken by me in the beforementioned Linen Industry Museum in Żyrardów. If you happen to drive around Warsaw in Poland, make sure to visit it!)

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# 20 years of my blog

Feb 2024

Believe it or not, today marks the 20th anniversary of my blog. Exactly on February 13th, 2004, I've published my first entry, which is still online: "Nareszcie w Sieci". It was Friday 13th, but I said there that I don't believe in bad luck, and apparently I was right. Today, I would like to take this opportunity to look back and to write a few words about this website.

This wasn't my first or last venture on the Internet. Even before I launched this page, together with my friends from the neighborhood in my home town Częstochowa, still as teenagers, we formed a group that we called "ProgrameX". We had a website where we published various applications, games, articles, and art. We even created and shared custom Windows cursors and screensavers. I mentioned it in my past article: "Internet in Poland - My History". By the way, we all ended up earning M.Sc. degrees in computer science and now work in the IT field. Greetings to Grzesiek, Damian, and Tomek! I was also actively involved in the Polish Internet game developers community known as "Warsztat" (eng. "Workshop"), and over the years I became a moderator and then an administrator of it. That website doesn't exist anymore. Its last address was warsztat.gd.

At first, I was blogging in Polish, as I didn't feel confident writing in English. Only in June 2009 I officially switched to English. Over these 20 years, I gathered more than a thousand of entries. This one is 1168th. I know I could be ashamed of the old ones and I should remove them, their links and images probably don't work any more, but I still keep them, because I think some of them may provide useful knowledge. I like educating people and I know there are always more beginners than advanced programmers in each area, so what now seems obvious to me may be an interesting and new finding for someone else. I've only included a disclaimer for older entries, acknowledging that they may not reflect my current knowledge and beliefs.




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# AquaFish 2 - My Game From 2009

Aug 2020

I've made a short video showing a game I developed more than 10 years ago: AquaFish 2. It was my first commercial project, published by Play Publishing, developed using my custom engine The Final Quest.

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# Internet in Poland - My History

Sep 2016

This article at forbes.pl says that yesterday there was a 26-th anniversary of first Internet connection in Poland. On 26 September 1990 scientists made a first connection between Warsaw and Geneva to transfer some data. I thought it might be a good opportunity to write down some memories of my personal beginnings with the Internet. I think it can be interesting to some younger readers that know only the modern Internet as it looks today, as well as to some foreigners, because history of the Internet it other countries may be a little bit different than in Poland.

I know there were things before, like people dialing specific numbers and connecting to so called BBS-es, but my first experiences were already dealing with "this" global Internet. I was in high school back then. At first I started to go to Internet cafes - venues throughout the city where you paid per hours you could spend working on a computer connected to the global network, and possibly downloading some files to your floppy disks. Going there after (or instead of :) school, I first learned how to use IRC and of course WWW. IRC was a protocol that required a client app (mIRC was the most popular one for Windows) and allowed to chat with people, privately or on numerous topic channels, so it was possible e.g. to meet local girls in my city :)

Of course the Web existed already too, with many pages about programming that I've been reading to learn Delphi and download some new components for it. There was no all-knowing Google then, not to mention StackOverflow. Instead there were multiple competing search engines (e.g. Yahoo, AltaVista, Infoseek, Lycos, HotBot) and their algorithms were not so good yet. Page directories were also popular, with manually managed lists of websites grouped into categories and subcategories. Many people created websites about the topics of their interest, like "John's website about programming", or about fishing, or whatever. Pages looked different than today. Their style was to be later called "Web 1.0", with the use of HTML frames, textured backgrounds and animated GIF-s.




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# Pixel Heaven and Bajtek Special Issue

Jun 2016

Do you remember "Bajtek" magazine? I don't, because I was a little kid back then, but older colleagues told me that in 80's and 90's it was a popular Polish magazine about computers (like Atari, Commodore or Amiga - platforms that were in use at that time). Archival issues can be downloaded for free from atarionline.pl.

Now, 20 years after last one, a new issue has been released. It's a single, special issue - Wydanie specjalne: Bajtek. There is my article inside - "Programowanie grafiki dziś" ("Graphics Programming Today"). The article describes briefly a history of graphics cards (from first 3D games, through 3Dfx Voodoo and S3 ViRGE, cards from NVIDIA and ATI/AMD, appearance of OpenGL and DirectX, to invention of shaders), shows graphics pipeline of modern GPU-s and mentions the new generation of graphics API-s (Direct3D 12 and Vulkan).

Many people who were interested in graphics programming, games or demoscene at the time of Bajtek magazine, now have a more "serious" job, whether in software development or something completely different, and they no longer have time for this hobby, so they are not up-to-date with advancements in this technology. So I thought they may like a short update on this subject.

The new issue of Bajtek was first shown on Pixel Heaven - a party that took place 3-5 June 2016 in Warsaw. I've been there and I had a great time. There were many different activities, like indie games exhibition, retro gaming zone, lectures and discussion panels.

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# Few Words about Interactive Fiction

Dec 2009

My today Google-Wikipedia "research" was about interactive fiction. I've only heard about MUD-s before. MUD (Multi-User Dungeon) is a text-based, multiplayer game genre that precede current MMORPG games. Interactive fiction are also text-based games where player reads descriptions of things (like "You are in ... now. You can see ... here.") and types console commands (like "go west"), but they are single-player and more story-oriented rather than being about the mechanics of combat and magic.

The history of interactive fiction is older than me, as it started in 70's long before personal computers era. There have been some commercial games of this genre released in the past. Today interactive fiction is still alive thanks to the Internet community. (BTW: I didn't know before that the famous metasyntactic variable "xyzzy" originates from math, where it helps to remember the way of calculating cross product of 3D vectors :)

From more technical perspective, all sources I've read agree that it makes no sense to start coding a new platform for interactive fiction, as there already are some great ones out there. For example, there is this Z-machine standard (see The Z-Machine Standards Document) that is still in use despite being very old and has interpreter implementations for numerous platforms. One could think that it's kind of a description language like XML, but it's actually a virtual machine with opcodes etc.

It's also worth seeing some of the tools interactive fiction creators use. I've read a bit about Inform 7 - a free, multiplatform IDE with its own language to develop IF games (and also debugging functionality). Rules of this system remind me of Prolog at first glance. There is much built-in mechanics already available, like visiting rooms or taking items. But at the same time it's very flexible, so e.g. there is an extension available coded in this language that introduces metric units. The syntax of this language is totally weird as it looks like... English language. Just see manuals. Programming here is like writing a book (much like the Shakespeare Programming Language, but this one is not esoteric). Sample code: "The Gazebo is a room. The wood-slatted crate is in the Gazebo. The crate is a container.". Parsing player commands is also very sophisticated to resemble using natural language. Everything here is like reading or writing a novel - even compiler errors :)

I've always dreamed about writing a platform for text-based games that would be so general, flexible, powerful and would model the world so comprehensively. Now as it turned out that systems like this already exist and evolve for decades, there is not much to do here for a programmer like me. Especially as I don't feel like writing a novel, even interactive one. But anyway it's nice to know what interactive fiction is.

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