IEEE Annals of the History of Computing

Published by Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
Online ISSN: 1934-1547
Print ISSN: 1058-6180
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The SIM8-01 prototyping board was introduced by Intel in 1972 as a low-cost hardware aid for the development of applications involving Intel's 8008 microprocessor. This article traces the SIM8-01's development at Intel and analyzes its impact on the formation of the first wave of worldwide microcomputer activities
The example of the electrical analyzer, a genre of computing artifacts known mainly by their development and use in the context of electrification, is treated as representative of the historical oscillation between analog and digital computing orientations. Artificial electric lines, short-circuit calculating boards, and alternating current network analyzers are discussed as examples of electrical analyzers. Counting on the successful employment of the ideology of intelligent machines in the context of the history of the electrical analyzer, the first part of the article searches for a direct ancestor of the post-World War II computing ideology. The second part of the article proposes to interpret the ideology of intelligent machines as an effect related to the social conditions of the appropriation of computing labor. Overall, the article argues about the historical, i.e., antiessentialist, character of the demarcation of digital from analog orientation
Much of what modern digital rights management (DRM) systems attempt to accomplish was actually forcefully implemented on videogame consoles beginning with the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and SEGA Genesis system in the early 1980s. Examining the links between modern DRM mechanisms and these early production and copy protection systems can help contextualize the future of media production and access.
The article was written with the intention of throwing some light upon the development of the Hollerith Electric Tabulating System, which ultimately resulted in the first automatic sequence-controlled printing calculator, the DEHOMAG D 11 tabulator. The story of this particular machine is important in the general history of tabulating equipment, yet it has not been told before. Although the article is based upon a larger technical report, of which other parts are intended for later publication, it cannot be said to be the last word on this machine. Basic material about the device continues to be collected, and every item leads to further insights
The IBM 1500 Instructional System was the only commercial system produced by a single manufacturer that had an integrated student terminal configuration providing a keyboard and light pen response mode, CRT-based graphics, audio, and static film projection. Experimental instructional systems had been developed by IBM prior to a prototype version of the 1500 Instructional System, which was tested at Stanford University. A production version of the 1500 System with changes in the CPU and the audio system and having the capability to run a maximum of 32 student stations was installed in over 30 sites beginning in the late 1960s. IBM's commitment to the development of this system was extensive but short-lived, as most sites were unable to maintain funding support for the system. In retrospect, the IBM 1500 System had capabilities yet to be supported on the microcomputer systems of the 1990s
This article describes the historical restoration of an IBM 1620 Model I computer by a team of volunteers at the Computer History Museum. The technical trajectory of the project is described as are the philosophical and museological issues attendant on the restoration of vintage computers.
This paper describes two almost forgotten key-operated calculators, the first by the Milanese Luigi Torchi (1834) and the second by the Florentine Tito Gonnella (1858). The first, in particular, seems also to present an unprecedented feature, possibly the first direct-multiplication mechanism.
Augusta Ada Lovelace worked with Charles Babbage to create a description of Babbage's unbuilt invention, the analytical engine, a highly advanced mechanical calculator often considered a forerunner of the electronic calculating computers of the 20th century. Ada Lovelace's "notes," describing the analytical engine, published in Taylor's scientific memoirs in 1843, contained a ground-breaking description of the possibilities of programming the machine to go beyond number-crunching to "computing" in the wider sense in which we understand the term today. We expand on research first presented by the authors in their documentary film, to dream tomorrow.
This article presents Jean-Baptiste Schwilgue's 1844 adding machine, which was equipped with a number of unique features, in particular with what was apparently the first numerical keyboard.
The Mathematical Tables Committee of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, and latterly of the Royal Society, led British table making activity for nearly a century. During this period, table making evolved from the private passion of solitary table makers to organized groups of human computers augmented by calculating machines. The most tangible output of the committee was the Mathematical Tables Series: volumes that became a byword for perfection in accuracy and typography. After World War II, the scientific community expected that the electronic computer would take over the role of the table maker. It did, but not in the way table makers had supposed.
This paper addresses the initial development of the first punched-card system in the United States in the 1880s and the construction of the next punched-card machine generation, launched in 1907. Finally, aspects of punched-card systems in the 1910s give a perspective on this history
An overview is given on several inventions made between 1880 and 1920 in St. Louis, Missouri. The first envisioned in the 1870s, is Frank S. Baldwin's calculating engine. The second, and most successful, is the adding machine introduced by William Seward Burroughs. The third is the 10-key adding machine of William J. Hopkins, sold as the Standard adding machine. The fourth is another 10-key machine, the Dalton, which was first envisioned by Hubert H. Hopkins, William's brother. Last is the third device of the Hopkins brothers: the Moon-Hopkins billing machine. These inventions suggest both the range of St. Louis inventions and the challenges associated with novel technologies.
Industrial production of office machines emerged in the 1880s and grew extensively until the Second World War. Although sales and applications of punched-card machines expanded in the interwar years, the key-set office machine industry lost dynamics and ultimately collapsed. The lack of scale and scope improvements in the development of key-set office machines was the major reason for this sharp contrast.
Between 1884 and 1930, the City of Chicago emerged as a center of manufacture for a new kind of machine, designed especially to assist in ordinary addition. Chicago inventions and products would shape the adding machine industry into the second half of the 20th century.
A few years ago, the author wrote a report about the development of the Hollerith Punched Card System (F.W. Kistermann, 1995). One section dealt with the application of punched cards in science and engineering. Looking at the literature of this field in Europe, the author found the name of Leo Wenzel Pollak in Prague in the 1934 Hollerith Nachrichten, the customer journal of the Berlin DEHOMAG Company (L.W. Pollak and F. Kaiser, 1934). Pollak's paper turned out to be the culmination of seven years' intensive use of punched cards in scientific data processing-a project that has, so far, not been appreciated in the history of data processing
E. G. Andrews, a pioneer in the development of binary computers, died on October 13, 1980, in Hanover, New Hampshire. Ernest Galen Andrews was born in Topeka, Kansas, on January 10, 1898. Following service aboard the USS Kansas during World War I, Andrews attended William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri, where he received a bachelor's degree in mathematics in 1922. In that same year, he accepted a position with the installation department of the Western Electric Company in Kansas City, whence he was transferred to Atlanta and then to New York City.
The production of astronomical tables is an ancient activity, one requiring a great deal of mathematical computation. During the 18th century, production of these tables increased and the British government hired human computers to prepare the tables of the annual Nautical Almanac. From 1765 to 1811, the Nautical Almanac employed 35 computers; only one, Mary Edwards, was a woman, whose story is told here.
The question of how to accurately find longitude at sea was hotly debated in the mid-1700s. This article describes the lunar distance method, promoted by Nevil Maskelyne, the British Astronomer Royal. In 1767, Maskelyne began publishing the Nautical Almanac, which contained astronomical tables prepared by a small network of human computers during the period 1765-1809. This article will describe the computing system Maskelyne created to compute the necessary tables.
The Reviews Department includes reviews of publications, films, audio and videotapes, and exhibits relating to the history of computing. Full length studies of technical, economic, business, social and institutional aspects or other works of interest to Annals readers are briefly noted, with appropriate bibliographic information. Colleagues are encouraged to recommend works they wish to review and to suggest titles to the Reviews Editor.
Arthur Lee Samuel's (1901-90) early life, education, and career are described. Before World War II, at Bell Telephone Laboratories, he was a leading designer of microwave tubes, of which his TR radar switch, the Samuel tube, was the most widely used. At the University of Illinois he launched the ILLIAC team. He was one of those who guided IBM into computers and into real research, and he initiated its solid-state laboratory. He made a major improvement in the Williams storage tube. He invented hashing. He was chairman of the Defense Department Advisory Group on Electron Devices for 18 years. He started IBMs Zurich Laboratory and was instrumental in founding the IBM Journal of Research and Development.< >
The author traces the development of the Hollerith tabulating machine, what is part of the Hollerith punched card system during the years 1905 until 1913, and describes the machine's applications of most interest to customers at that time. Hollerith added the plugboard for flexible wiring to his tabulating machine for different applications, as a result of customer demand.
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Carl introducing John Mauchly at the Fireside Chat. (Courtesy of Charles Babbage Inst., Univ. of Minnesota, Minneapolis.)
Carl Hammer was a pioneer in many ways, but he was foremost an organizer and a tireless promoter of computing.
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The computing problems in the field of tidal calculations in the Netherlands between 1920 and 1960 are described. These calculations were necessary to predict the changes in the water movements caused by hydraulic works like the Zuiderzee Works and the Delta Works. The growth of computing problems in this field was caused not only by the increasing technical complexity of the hydraulic works, but also by the growing importance of the tidal calculations in the decision process. Before the introduction of the digital computer. several solutions were developed and used: numerical methods, analog electrical machines, and large-scale models. The required accuracy of the predictions and the number of alternative plans for which calculations had to be done were important factors in the choice between the alternative methods.< >
The life, education and career of An Wang, originator of the essential concept on which the magnetic-core memory was based and astonishingly successful computer entrepreneur, are discussed. Wang's early life in China, his education at Harvard, and his development of magnetic-core storage systems are reviewed. The start, growth, and decline of Wang Laboratories are also discussed
Peter Eckstein writes a biographical sketch of Jack Kilby, pioneering inventor of ICs.
This article describes Bernard A. Caller's involvement in early systems programming and machine languages research, his work with the ACM, and - of especial interest to the readers of this journal - his contributions to the development of the history of computing, and his role as the first editor in chief of the Annals of the History of Computing.
The rapid advance of computing technology since the 1940s has created an impression that all that happened in computing before then was somehow mere prologue to the real history. According to this popular notion, the computer age began with the invention of machines that computed at electronic speeds, that were capable of automatic sequence control with conditional branching, and that stored their programs internally. The classification of computing into “generations” with the “first” generation being those with vacuum tubes further reinforces this notion. The paper looks at some examples of machines built in the 1930s and 1940s that straddle both ages: machines that had some sort of sequence control, partially electronic counting circuits, or primitive branching capabilities. In particular, the author examines a few systems that reveal especially well the nature of this transition: the ensembles of punched card equipment used by L.J. Comrie (1932) and W. Eckert (1984) for scientific instead of business use; the “Aberdeen Relay Calculator” that IBM built for the US Army; and the “Card Programmed Calculator” that Northrop Aircraft invented for engineering applications that IBM later marketed
Librarians, particularly those in traditional academic and public libraries, were slow to take advantage of punched cards. In contrast, special librarians and documentalists, with their small systems and focus on retrieving information for users, readily adopted punched cards. The results were dramatic: improved ability to index scientific and technical information and better user service. The paper presents a history of the use of punched cards in US libraries
The motivation behind the creation of the Cambridge University Mathematical Laboratory and its original terms of reference are described. The changes to the laboratory caused by World War II are discussed. The Cambridge Mathematical Laboratory was reestablished in 1945 under the directorship of M.V. Wilkes. The ways in which Wilkes developed the work of the laboratory and built up a research team to work on the EDSAC project, which established Cambridge as a major center of computer research, are considered.< >
This paper discusses the failure of the attempt to establish a computational center at MIT in the 1930s and the effect it had on the subsequent shift from analog to digital computing during the 1950s
To put a finer point on the influence of the ENIAC on IBM, engineers from the Endicott, New York, plant, specializing in input/output card equipment, visited the ENIAC while it was under construction and observed the use of a card reader with it. But as a general statement, what the ENIAC did to the office appliance and electrical supply firms during World War II was to call out the possibility that a new class of hardware was emerging. In the years following - that is to say, from 1946 to roughly 1951/1952 - the system confirmed that development. Electrical engineers at IBM, NCR, Burroughs, and GE took notice; although as time passed, they focused greater attention on computers that followed ENIAC, as there were nearly two dozen such projects underway in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Historians have carefully documented the work of Eckert and Mauchly in the 1940s, recording that the experiences they gained in building the ENIAC directly and explicitly influenced their work on several subsequent systems: the EDVAC, BINAC, and Univac. Explicitly, the ENIAC taught Eckert and Mauchly their initial lessons about building computers, providing insights that carried over to future projects.
The author discusses whether early entry was a competitive advantage in academic computing. This is accomplished by examining the first three decades of computing at five universities-MIT, Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia and Princeton-that initiated computing programs in the 1940s
Elizabeth Phillips Williams who worked as a systems analyst describes what it was like to work as an analyst in the 1940s and 1950s. She describes number of incidents that reflected prevailing attitudes toward women in the workplace. She believes that with controlled communications replacing the old bureaucratic methods, work measurement is entirely possible throughout any organization. The wider view of the organization's goals and purposes provided by functional information control centers can lead to more effective communication of instructions throughout the organization.
At the US Army Signal Security Agency during World War II, two systems were built to assist cryptanalysts in breaking messages enciphered on Enigma-type machines. Called the Autoscritcher, the first machine used relay technology. The final system, the Superscritcher, was fully electronic and contained about 3500 vacuum tubes. Both machines operated successfully. The system approach both machines was the same, but differed from that of the Bombe mechanical machines in use to do a similar job. The Superscritcher proved the practicality of electronic digital technology for computing applications. It also showed that a more flexible architecture was needed to allow the solving of more than one class of problems. An account of the design, construction, and test of the Superscritcher and the Autoscritcher is presented.< >
An account of the development and commercialization of general-purpose electronic analog computing in Britain and the United States of America from 1945 to the mid-1990s is presented. It is argued that the principal influence on the growth and maturation of postwar commercial analog computing was the demand for aids to calculation in aeronautical design. The drive to develop military aircraft, guided weapons, and ICBMs provided the primary motivation and funds to develop analog and subsequently hybrid computer systems. The transition from mechanical to electronic analog computing, the formative and pioneering firms, and the commercialization of in-house computing systems are described.< >
Information retrieval has evolved through four phases: manual and mechanical devices; off line computing; online computing and vendor access; and distributed, networked, and mass computing. The article primarily addresses the first three phases. We examine IR systems in terms of four basic functions within a broader communications system context: analysis of document information content including description of document elements (such as author, title, volume, and so on), abstracting, indexing, and other processes; identification and location of sources of documents through bibliographic browsing and searching; evaluation and assessment of bibliographic search output such as screening of bibliographic descriptions; and provision of physical access to document information content through various media such as print on paper, microform, and screen displays.
Personal contacts between Danish and Swedish scientists played a major role in transferring computer technology to Denmark. The first Danish computer, DASK, was a result of that cooperation. (DASK is usually considered to be an acronym for Dansk Aritmetisk Sebens Kalkulator, but it originally meant “DAnsk version af BeSK”.) In order to build and run DASK, and for doing research in the computer field, Regnecentralen was founded. Caught between the commercialization of the computer market and the national government's technocratic vision of a controlled development in the use of computers, Regnecentralen managed to survive, unlike most governmental agencies, playing a role in early computer development. This article tries to explain how and why this happened
Malta's establishment of a Statistics Office in 1947 occurred amid political instability and an economic depression. The official compilation and timely publication of statistics by a central government agency - made possible by the introduction of tabulating equipment soon after the Office's creation - proved invaluable for the development of a planned economy despite initial skepticism.
It is suggested that, because of changes in computer technology and terminology, it is often difficult for present-day observers to judge the significance of early digital computer projects. The author discusses some architectural themes of interest, as they evolved in the design of three innovative computers developed at the University of Manchester: the Mark I, Atlas, and MU5. Themes such as operand address generation, instruction formats, and memory management are traced for the period 1948 to 1975. These themes are illustrated by a set of normalized diagrams that may aid further study of the original references.< >
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