Feio Duck, the first computer made by the Escola Politécnica, turns 50 – Jornal da USP

The initiative of the students of the then Department of Electrical Engineering left an important legacy for the institute, for current research and for the development of new national technologies.

The subject of computer engineering at the Escola Politécnica was consolidated and created as a result of the construction of Patinho Feio – Photo: Arte / Jornal da USP

The first computer developed by the Polytechnic School of the University of São Paulo, ugly duckling, turns 50 years old. Developed in 1972 in the Laboratory for Digital Systems of the Department of Electrical Engineering, the idea of ​​its construction arose during the postgraduate study of electrical engineering, which at that time also included computer science. José Roberto Castilho Piqueira, a professor at the Department of Telecommunications at the Escola Politécnica, emphasizes that it is important to remember that the appearance of the computer is linked to the willingness of engineering students to build it: “It was a very cohesive group of young people and focused on teamwork.”

Today, there is a trend towards miniaturization, in which computer components are produced on a large scale. Before, however, there were no integrated circuits and solid state memory – a set of integrated circuits that store data – essential elements for smooth and fast computer operation. Microprocessors, the professor says, appeared in the early 70s and revolutionized operations, making them faster. “The construction was very important for technological development, both for the people who worked on it and in the spin-off generation: people who left, trained others and worked in this field of electronics and telecommunications.“, emphasizes prof.

José Roberto Castilho Piqueira – Photo:

The initiative of the students at that time ended up leaving an important legacy to the Polytechnic and the development of current research and technologies. The first computer built was the seed for the second, the G-10 computer. Encouraged by the Navy, which needed the technology for its embedded electronics nationalization program, the G-10 computer became the starting point for the development of Brazil’s first commercial computer.

The subject of computer engineering at the Escola Politécnica was consolidated and created due to the construction ugly duckling. Furthermore, “It is also important to know that there is another spin-off of this group, which is the Department of Mechatronics and Robotic Mechatronics, which is also a very strong group of the Polytechnic. It was born within the computer engineering group and then developed,” recalls Piqueira.

The legacy remains

Currently, not only the Polytechnic, but also several other institutions are engaged in research in this area. Within the Department of Computer Engineering, there are several projects on artificial intelligence and machine learning, in addition to learning about quantum computing – based on the theory of quantum mechanics and used to improve the speed of other computing systems.

The generation of students participating in this project is now responsible for important startups and has left a fundamental legacy for teaching and research. ““Heritage is fundamental to teaching and it is fundamental to research and computer engineering carried out at Poli,” emphasizes the professor.

The forum will be held this week, the 22nd, at 9:30 a.m. at the Polytechnic, in which the dean will also participate. It will recognize the engineers, teachers and students who participated in the creation of this computer and revolutionized computing on a national level.

To learn more about the computer ugly ducklingClick here.

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