Thursday, December 18, 2008

Lost in Space! and the Burroughs B-205

My long time friend Phillip told me about IMDB featuring all the full episodes of Lost in Space!  The streaming is actually by Hulu.  This is actually a great Christmas present!

I hadn't seen this show very much over the years and it was one of my favorites in the past.  

It was interesting to watch the two pilots.  The first pilot was pretty laid back and almost like Disney's Swiss Family Robinson, no accident I'm sure!  It appears as Episode 0 in this list.

Then they produced a second pilot ,which wrote in both Dr. Smith and the Robot, and takes the form of a two-part series.  Looking down the epidode list it appears that they reused the removed sections from the first pilot in later shows during the first season.

The first pilot also used the theme music from The Day the Earth Stood Still which made it sort of neat.  The real jet pack, the Bell Rocket Belt, appears in the first pilot, too, though not really operating of course—it's a dummy suspended on a wire or something like that.

I was  struck by the computers that appeared in Alpha Control and again in the Jupiter Two space ship.  When I looked these up, I found they were actually consoles from the Burroughs B-205!  It turns out that the B-205 was used in many TV shows and movies like Batman, The Time Tunnel, The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, and more!  I now realize that this machine strongly influenced my idea of what a computer looked like in the mid-60s.

The B-205 was a fascinating decimal-based computer (not binary really) with rotating-drum memory, i.e., no electronic memory in the usual sense!  Numbers were made up of decimal digits represented by four-bit bytes (which means some patters were left over of course).

The console displays the registers and their bit patterns with lights, as many computers did in those days.

The Lost in Space autographed picture is from

The Burroughs console is from the TV show Batman, 20th Century Fox Television, Greenway Production, ABC, and DC Comics.