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The BINAC: A Case Study in the History of Technology

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129318D
Original Publication Date: 1979-Jul-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-05
Document File: 17 page(s) / 62K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

NANCY STERN: AUTHOR [+2]

Abstract

The BINAC, short for Binary Automatic Computer, was developed by John Presper Eckert, Jr. and John William Mauchly during the years 1947- 1949 under a contract with the Northrop Aircraft Corporation. It became the first operational stored program computer completed in the United States. This paper provides an historical analysis of the BINAC and the issues relating to its development. It also considers factors relating to the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation and its ultimate acquisition by Remington Rand

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THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

Copyright ©; 1979 by the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. Used with permission.

The BINAC: A Case Study in the History of Technology

NANCY STERN

(Image Omitted: Permission to copy without fee all or part of this material is granted provided that the copies are not made or distributed for direct commercial advantage, the AFIPS copyright notice and the title of the publication and its date appear, and notice is given that copying is by permission of the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. To copy otherwise, or to republish, requires specific permission. Author's address: Department of Administrative Computer Systems, Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY 11550 Superscripts numerals refer to Notes at end of article. © 1979 AFIPS 0164-1239/79/010007-22

The BINAC: A Case Study in the History of Technology

NANCY STERN .00/0)

The BINAC, short for Binary Automatic Computer, was developed by John Presper Eckert, Jr. and John William Mauchly during the years 1947- 1949 under a contract with the Northrop Aircraft Corporation. It became the first operational stored program computer completed in the United States.

This paper provides an historical analysis of the BINAC and the issues relating to its development. It also considers factors relating to the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation and its ultimate acquisition by Remington Rand

Key words and phrases: BINAC, binary automatic computer, Eckert, Mauchly, Electronic Control Company, Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation, ENIAC, EDVAC, UNIVAC, National Bureau of Standards, Census Bureau, Moore School, Northrop Aircraft, EDSAC, American Totalisator, Remington Rand.

CR categories: 1.2, 2.11, 2.12, 3.53, 3.56, 6.0, 6.2, 6.3

Introduction

John William Mauchly and John Presper Eckert, Jr. and their associates were responsible for many "firsts" in the computer field. They were integrally involved with four notable projects: (1) the ENIAC, first electronic digital computer; (2) the EDVAC, first electronic digital computer designed to incorporate the stored program concept; (3) the BINAC, first operational stored program computer completed in the United States; and (4) the UNIVAC, first commercial electronic stored program digital computer.1

All of these projects require careful historical analysis not only because they represent important "firsts," but because there continues to be a significant amount of controversy surrounding each of them.2

The purpose of this paper is to provide an historical account of development work on the BINAC and to address some of the controversial issues which specifically relate to it. The paper will

IEEE Computer Society, Jul 01, 1979 Page 1 IEEE Annals of the History of Computing Volume 1 Number 1, Pages 9-20

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The BINAC: A Case Study in the History of Technology

also consider factors relating to the Eckert-Mauchly business venture and its ultim...