(Roughly) Daily


From the web site of PopCap, makers of the popular videogame, Bejeweled 2:

On March 23, 2009 Mike [Leyde, a 56-year old steel contractor from Riverside, California] became the first person on Earth – and quite possibly the first in the universe – to “beat” Bejeweled 2, a game that hundreds of millions of people have enjoyed but never “completed.”  Mike achieved the highest score that the game is capable of processing: 2,147,483,647. Yes, you’re reading that correctly – after 2,205 hours and 51 minutes, Mike collected his 4,872, 229th gem and his score totaled more than 2.147 BILLION points!

Bejeweled co-creator and PopCap co-founder and chief technology officer Brian Fiete explains, “the highest score the game is capable of calculating is 2,147,483,647; that’s 2 to the 31st power minus 1. We had to give the game some sort of maximum displayable score, and figured that was high enough, no one would ever get that many points. When Mike collected that next gem match, the additional 2,200 points would have put his score above the maximum ‘calculable’ score, and much like some of the original arcade games, it caused his score to ‘flip around’ to a negative number. Well, the game’s code wasn’t designed to display a negative number so it just showed a blank where the score should be!”

To put Mike’s 2,200-hour-over-three-years investment into perspective: it’s the equivalent of eight hours a day, five days a week for a year.

As we step outside for some fresh air, we might recall that it was on this date in 1952 that Geoffrey Dummer read a paper at the US Electronic Components Symposium, at the end of which he observed:

With the advent of the transistor and the work on semi-conductors generally, it now seems possible to envisage electronic equipment in a solid block with no connecting wires. The block may consist of layers of insulating, conducting, rectifying and amplifying materials, the electronic functions being connected directly by cutting out areas of the various layers.

This is now generally agreed to have been the first public description of an integrated circuit– the architectural foundation of PCs, game machines, and essentially all modern electronic devices.

Geoffrey William Arnold Dummer, MBE

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