Out-witting Mrs NAND

Imagine if you will (you have a choice?) how much fun our crowd had growing up as little bits on Electric Ave,. We’d go through though whole subdivision almost daily, wreaking innocent havoc. Sidewalk-chalking ‘clever stuff’ in front of ‘important figures’ houses. ‘Ohm sweet Home’ is one I can remember, then later Sara insisted on ‘The Ampere Strikes Back!”
But this story is about one house in particular which just captured our young ‘minds’. Mrs’s NAND.
A small one-story quadriples on TTL Road, it had six sliding windows on each side. A door on the right end of the street-facing side seemed to be used mainly for taking the trash out. The back side. accessible easily by a walk-around deck, looked similar, only that the door was on the opposite end (still the right side though) and that’s where delivery-folk brought supplies, we believed. No one ever saw Mrs NAND (or one of the four identical ladies?) outside.
In fact, her life could be quite completely reduced to: three and only three utterances, her total gamut. “I’m happy”, I’m sad” and when dicked-with (our style) “Oy!”
Dat’s it. Hard to believe how much we loved ‘experimenting’ with her reactions. Me and Sara and Jenny and Mikey, (after his Mom left him tag along, seeing that none of the rest of us had died of childhood ‘digitalis’, as she’d warned Mickey for a good year and a half.)

Of course in the beginning we kinda thought of her as ‘random. The rules, we figured out, were that two of us needed to slide Windows 1 and 2 open, proclaim our emotional state in the simplest terms, and then immediately she’d slide open Window 3 and mutter quietly “I’m sad/happy/ Oy!” The same was true then for Windows 4,5 and 6, and then two groups on the back side, 13, 12, and 11 and the 10, 9, and 8. Guess the doors had numbers also.
Actually. most of the houses in that part of the subdivision had a similar design. Mrs NAND’s house was at #7400, on the corner of Boole Drive, but right down the street, at 7404 was the grumpy Mr Knott. His windows were in pairs; you told the first one you were happy and he yell out “I’m sad!. And vice versa. Great fun. I can see why nobody played there.
Ok, so Jenny comes home from school and decides to get serious about the thing. She even made a list of question we needed to find answers to.
“First off, we develop a ‘table of ‘truths‘”, she called it. Me ‘n Mikey did the grunt work while she recorded the results. After more trials than the two of us thought necessary, she had it:
“Um.. in short, she’s kinda like waiting for two of us to both be happy, then she’s sad!” Jenny conclude triumphantly. “Otherwise, she’s mainly happy, three out of the four possible combinations.”

“Ok, when does this story get interesting? you ask.
Well, I kinda think it’s grand so far, but then I was there.
Anyway, so now what?

Try this: We go around the house; whatever she said at Window three we both say in unison at windows four and five, and watch her flip from the previous ‘happy’ to a ‘sad’. And so on all the way around the dumb house until we get tired or hungry.
Another thing: Q: were there four identical and identically-tempered ladies living in ‘7400’ or was she alone, covering all teh windows in real time? A: Certainly appeared that there were four ladies.
Or Q: So what happens if, instead of saying point-blank “I’m happy“, you weasel a bit, telling her that on the one hand, Mrs Lupner did say something nice about your homework, but, on the other hand, you heard it might rain cats and dogs tomorrow.
That was the first time we heard the ‘Oy!”
“You broke the lady!. Sara scolded me,“Way to go Johnnie!”
And indeed I did feel horrible, until it turned out that she was fine, and yeah, she ‘do say dat at times’.
I could go on. The reader probably concludes by now that kids in those days were amused by almost anything. And in fact; yes, we were… an’ I’m proud of it!
My  own ‘invention’ was a kind of semi-circular ‘sound-horn’ as wide as two windows. With it I could ‘transfer’ her reaction from one “answer-window” right to the next window. So with me holding it ‘just right’ and Jenny adding the same sentiment to the other of the pair of window, we could have her ‘reversing herself’ all the way around the house. again, till hunger or fatigue intervened.
In the end, we couldn’t ‘use’ Mrs NAND for much in complex real life. Sara was my girlfriend at the time and we often walked there for old times’ sake to ‘ask the wizard’ a question. If either one of us (or both of us) was/were sad, Mrs NAND would say, (had she a more sympathetic vocabulary), “Don’t worry, kids, be happy. It’ll all work out in time.” And I suppose had we professed in unison total euphoric happiness, she would have chastened “Careful, kids, trouble is sure to strike; the evil eye, y’know!”

Fine. This has been today’s lesson in “Humanizing Digital Electronics. Study it for your next digital examination, ok?


15 thoughts on “Out-witting Mrs NAND

    1. solberg73 Post author

      We weren’t allowed to ask, sadly. The Mrs considered any statement between 0,6 V and 4.9V to be ‘noise. Btw, I can’t help but ‘personalize’ the chips I spend my time with. It’s uncanny how ‘fleshed-out’ their back-stories seem to be. 74138: female, competent but at times tired and mistrustful. 7447: “let there be Light.. and let there be Numbers” 7475: just says what he’s told to and only when told to do it. 74154: Can y’all buhleeve how much I get done?!
      great fun imagining a childhood spent investigating Logic. In truth I was 16 before a good friend urged me to see what’s up with Boole. Never been the same since.

  1. eleanorio

    I’m afraid this one was way too esoteric for me. Something about being a girl and not good at math. I didn’t realize there was going to be a test. I’m in big trouble, now.

  2. happierheathen

    No mention of Cousin Device Four Thousand Eleven? Perhaps you’re not into bondage? 😀

    Once upon a time during a job interview a tricky engineer drew on the whiteboard a single NAND with output fed back to one input, and the other input given a pull-up to Vcc and a toggle switch to ground. He asked, “What’s that do?”. I shoulda known to insist upon a nice hourly rate rather than accept the offered salary…

    Damn glad to see evidence of your continuing existence!

    1. solberg73 Post author

      Interesting comment! Our Gang didn’t have too many Compliments for the Metal Oxide kids; children of nouveau-riche arrivistes who started building copy-cat houses about when we all moved on. Ha, we used to love walking the almost 20 blocks to their neighborhood in rubber boots on cold dry winter days. Carrying carpet samples. The game was to brush ‘[their’ Mrs Nand’s hand as she opened the window. You knew you ‘made contact’ when she didn’t appear at the 3rd window.
      Several times we heard the sound of ambulance sirens on the way home. What, uS?
      Now as to the ‘Unreasonable Effectiveness’ of logic gates in describing business environments’ , (apologies to Wigner) yes, I lucked out the day I was to interview there with Whack-A-Mole Solutions Ltd. A fellow leaving the building with a ‘take this job and shove it!’ look on his face caught me already in the parking lot. “Guaranteed yer fucked!”, he warned, cryptically at the time. No schematics, just “Switch-down days yer doomed, and switch-up days, hard as you work they’ll snatch failure from the jaws of Victory. Get back in your car, son.” he advised, nicely.
      A pleasure seeing you here, buddy. I’d just now used the NAND to cleverly stop the clock and enable one or the other of two multiplexer chips depending on data lines ‘8’ and ’16’ in connection with my bass pedals box invention, and realized how much I ‘personalize’ those damn dependable chips.

      1. happierheathen

        I once worked for an outfit that adopted CMOS to gain efficiency and noise immunity, but depended upon “we’re only a half-mile from the beach” for ESD protection. Said beach being Huntington Beach, the first Santa Ana winds blew a whole bunch of inventory value away. They elected to keep the boards that passed functional testing, leading to the shocking discovery of the easily predictable.

        My best anthropomorphisms were limited to drawing eyes and smiles on NANDs and making stick figures of SCRs and other diodes-with-danglies things. (ORs and NORs got fins and gills, naturally.) The only sad NAND I ever drew was in a spot where an input was a 16kVDC signal, used to drive large, switched inductive loads, scaled to logic levels by a simple resistor divider. It reminded me of this scene from Kentucky Fried Movie:

        “No, not U4! Anything but U4!!” 😀

        Happy hacking, my friend!

    1. solberg73 Post author

      I was so sure I’d made the logic setup so simple and clear with words. Didn’t include a diagram, (which is just a shorter version of ‘saying it with words’ anyway.
      There are a half-dozen simple logic gates (Boole) and with only them, everything in Life is solvable (?)


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