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Programming the EDSAC: Early Programming Activity at the University of Cambridge

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129331D
Original Publication Date: 1980-Jan-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-05

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

MARTIN CAMPBELL-KELLY: AUTHOR [+2]

Abstract

The EDSAC computer was completed at Cambridge University, England, in May 1949. By early 1950 a programming System had been set up and the EDSAC began to attract a number of regular users. This article describes the development of the programming system between the first operation of the machine in May 1949 and the end of that year. Subsequent programming developments in 1950-1952 are also described. The paper concludes with an assessment of this programming activity.

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THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

Copyright ©; 1980 by the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc., Volume 2, Number 1, January 1980. Used with permission.

Programming the EDSAC: Early Programming Activity at the University of Cambridge

MARTIN CAMPBELL-KELLY

   (Image Omitted: © 1979 by the American Federation of Information Processing Societies. 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 Mathematics and Computer Studies, Sunderland Polytechnic, Sunderland SRI 3SD, England. © 1979 AFIPS 0164-1239/80/01007-36

Programming the EDSAC: Early Programming Activity at the University of Cambridge

MARTIN CAMPBELL-KELLY .00/0)

The EDSAC computer was completed at Cambridge University, England, in May 1949. By early 1950 a programming System had been set up and the EDSAC began to attract a number of regular users. This article describes the development of the programming system between the first operation of the machine in May 1949 and the end of that year. Subsequent programming developments in 1950-1952 are also described. The paper concludes with an assessment of this programming activity.

Keywords and phrases: EDSAC, subroutine, relocation, assembler, macro, debugging, trace, interpretation CR categories: 12, 2.43, 4.11, 4.13, 4.21, 4.30, 4.42

1. Introduction

By 1950, there were three influential centers of programming in Britain where working computers had been constructed: Cambridge University (the EDSAC), Manchester University (the Mark D, and the National Physical Laboratory (the Pilot ACE). These machines and their commercial versions (LEO, the Ferranti Mark I, and DEUCE, respectively) shaped the ideas of the first generation of British programmers.

In this article the early programming activity at Cambridge University will be described. (Programming at Manchester University and NPL are the subjects of two companion reports, still in preparation.)

In particular, the development of the programming system for the EDSAC (Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator) will be described and assessed. This had considerable influence on the development of programming systems elsewhere -- notably through the publication of the classic textbook on programming, The Preparation of Programs for an Electronic Digital Computer (Wilkes, Wheeler, and Gill, 1951). Very briefly, the key milestones in the life of the

IEEE Computer Society, Jan 01, 1980 Page 1 IEEE Annals of the History of Computing Volume 2 Number 1, Pages 7-36

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Programming the EDSAC: Early Programming Activity at the Uni...