How Is Linux Like a Player Piano?


When I was a young lad I was very interested in mechanical things.

One time I read a magazine article about how to repair a player piano.

Another time, like a lot of other young people, I took apart an old mechanical clock that belonged to my parents.  Also like a lot of other young people I could not figure out how to put it together again.  I shared this infatuation with mechanical clocks (and the inability to re-assemble them) with a young Grace Murray Hopper.

Later in life (1969) I learned how to program computers with FORTRAN and punched cards.   These computers had switches and lights on them.  You could see what the computers were doing.   You could look at the values on your punched cards.

Then computers stopped having lights and switches.  Card decks gave way to magnetic disks and faith was required that the computers were doing what you asked.

I started collecting mechanical clocks (after learning how to re-assemble them) and automated musical instruments made of wood and metal, programmed with paper and mechanical rolls, repairing what had once worked, learning their stories and songs.

And their stories and songs are meaningful, with struggles that sing to the Free Software space today.

Come to listen and learn.   Come to sing the songs.

Ballroom B
Saturday, March 16, 2024 - 11:15 to 12:15