Quiz Question

One of a continuing series

24: Legacy: Corey Hawkins in 24: Legacy coming soon to FOX. ©2016 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Ray Mickshaw/FOX

24: Legacy: Corey Hawkins in 24: Legacy coming soon to FOX. ©2016 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Ray Mickshaw/FOX

I just noticed on TVLine that the 24 series is getting a reboot. They’re figuring to restart the popular show with a new cast, absent Kieffer Sutherland, for example. And here comes the Quiz Question of the week. In reboot, where does the boot come from? Trace it back to its language origin without outside help.

Post your response as a comment below, and don’t give the answer away on Facebook.

Update and answer

A term dating in the United States from the 19th century goes something like this: “Pull yourself up by your boot straps.” It’s an absurdly impossible thing to do and flies in the face of all known physics.

However, in the early days of computers that was essentially what was needed to cold start a computer. The computer had no program in it, and it needed a program of some sort to load the program it needed. The computer was essentially required to load itself—pull itself up by its own boot straps. It  worked like this.

There were some panel switches that linked to the memory and address bus lines. You set an address in the switches and pushed a button to lock that address. Then you set the switches to the binary representation of the first instruction you wanted the computer to execute, and you pushed a button to load that instruction into the memory address you previously saved.

You repeated the process as often as necessary to load a “bootstrap” routine. Then you pushed a button to cause the computer to execute the first instruction. The rest followed automatically. The bootstrap routine loaded a few more machine instructions from maybe a paper tape and then executed them. Those extra instructions comprised a fully-capable loader, and the remainder of the required program was loaded, and the computer  was up and running. It had bootstrapped itself into operation.

It came to  pass that to  restart a computer you just hit a button to “re-boot” the machine—restart it from scratch. When a TV series gets an overhaul and is restarted with new oversight and a new cast, it is said to have been rebooted.

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2 thoughts on “Quiz Question

  1. Well, you put a deck of cards into the card reader. Then you hit reset on the console. Then you hit the “Load” button on the card reader. This booted up the computer.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_1620

    “Load – Pressing this key with the reader idle and on and the computer in Manual mode started the reader, reset the program counter (in the MARS core memory) to zero, read one card into the reader’s buffer and checked the card for errors, and simulated the execution of a Read Numeric from Card Reader to address zero (reading the 80 characters of the reader’s buffer into memory addresses 00000 to 00079), then switched the computer into Automatic mode (starting execution at the address in the program counter).”

    On the other hand, the CDC 6600 had a set of 12 rows of 12 on/off switches.

    I ran some programs on an IBM 650 in 1963, but I cannot recall how it was booted.

    A “boot” is a “kick in the pants”???

  2. Pingback: Quiz Question | Skeptical Analysis

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