[dorkbotsea-blabber] Network IV computer light sculpture - SeaTac Airport

Paddock, Toby tpaddock at seanet.com
Thu Jul 21 00:14:42 EDT 2005

Got some info from the artist. Looks like I was wrong 
about it not being Game of Life and what type of bulb 
it used. 

It's bad manners to forward private emails to a public 
list, but this looks pretty harmless.

Should we have a weird light bulb show-n-tell some meeting?


James Seawright wrote:

Thanks for your email.  Alas, as you may know, Network IV is no more.  
Seatac wasnt prepared to bear the expense of updating the obsolete 
computer equipment that ran it, and couldn't find any other organization 
that would take it.  I believe much of is was donated to local schools. 

The program did use a version of the Life rules to generate patterns in 
response to button-pushings by viewers.  One had to push at least three 
buttons at the same time before the program would "notice" you, then 
those button-pushings would be treated as an initial pattern in the Life 
space.  Thus, one could fairly easily learn how to input gliders, 
oscillators, etc.

The lamps were NE-40, and had two circular electrodes in front and in 
back.  The power was DC at around 90 volts and the polarity set so that 
the front electrode was the cathode, and consequently glowed.  NE-34 
lamps are the ones with two D-shaped electrodes, and would have looked 
like a complete lit circle with AC, but only one side would have lit 
with DC.  The glass envelope was the size of a ten-watt incandescent 
bulb, pretty much the same size as the bulp in a refrigerator.  The main 
reason for using the NE-40s was that they only used about 15 
milliamperes of current each, where an incandescent would have used at 
least 100 ma, and there would have been a big inrush current of several 
amps, enough to kill the switching transistor controlling the lamp -- I 
found this out the hard way with a previous piece.

The piece was in operation since the end of August 1973.  I believe this 
slightly predates Pong, and therefore has a claim to being the first 
ever comuter game.

Thanks, Jim

Toby Paddock wrote:

>Hello Mr. Seawright, 
>I am part of a group in Seattle called dorkbot-sea. 
>Several times the subject of your Network IV sculpture has come up. It made

>quite an impression on me and I think had a lot to do with my long-time 
>fascination with blinking lights, grids, and patterns. 
>Do you have any information that you can share about it? Also, I have a 
>couple of questions that have popped up based on differing memories: 
>1- Were the patterns based on Life? I remember it as not being Life, but my

>rememberer is sometimes faulty. 
>2- Even more of a nerd question... Do you know what the bulbs looked like?
>remember them as being 2 half-moon electrodes when viewed from the end,
>Someone else remembers them as stacked, appearing as a solid disk, such as:
>Or if you could tell me if the bulbs powered from DC, that would mean my
>moon electrode idea is definitely wrong.
>Thank you,
>Toby Paddock

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