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Early Electronic Computer Developments at IBM

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129351D
Original Publication Date: 1980-Jul-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-05
Document File: 13 page(s) / 51K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

RON E. PHELPS: AUTHOR [+2]

Abstract

This article deals primarily with the early beginnings of electronic computer development within IBM. It starts with the 603 prototype (first operational in 1942) and goes on to cover the major IBM electronic developments up through the 701, including the 603, SSEC, 604, CPC, and tape processing machine. It also briefly outlines early work at RCA and at NCR, based on patents on file in the U.S. Patent Office and on the limited reports publicly available.

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THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

Copyright ©; 1980 by the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. Used with permission.

Early Electronic Computer Developments at IBM

BYRON E. PHELPS

(Image Omitted: © 1980 by the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. 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: 3113 Cheryl Drive, Hendersonville, NC 28739. © 1980 AFIPS 0164-1239/80/030253-267

Early Electronic Computer Developments at IBM

BYRON E. PHELPS .00/0)

This article deals primarily with the early beginnings of electronic computer development within IBM. It starts with the 603 prototype (first operational in 1942) and goes on to cover the major IBM electronic developments up through the 701, including the 603, SSEC, 604, CPC, and tape processing machine. It also briefly outlines early work at RCA and at NCR, based on patents on file in the U.S. Patent Office and on the limited reports publicly available.

Keywords and phrases: first electronic computers, earl industry computers, earl IBM computers (603, SSEC, 604, CPC, TPM, 701), vacuum tube computers

CR category: 1.2

Introduction

The historical record of the early computer developments at the colleges and universities has generally been well publicized, but little has been told about the early computer developments in the industrial world. While this article is mainly the story of developments at the International Business Machines Corporation, it also shows that, as usually happens when new inventions appear on the horizon, similar activities arose in a number of places at about the same time.

At the time John Atanasoff was working on his never-to-be-completed machine (1938-1941) (News in perspective 1974), and before the ENIAC was started, at least three American corporations were working on electronic computing devices. I have in my files seven patents on that subject (see Table 1) that were filed in the United States Patent Office between January 1940 and November 1942 -- two by NCR (National Cash Register Company), two by RCA (Radio Corporation of America), and three by IBM. This demonstrates not only that such work was going on, but also that the systems being patented were demonstrably workable, because that is a basic requirement of the U.S. Patent Office. Figures 1, 2, and 3 show the cover pages of three of those patents.

The RCA effort was directed toward the development of electronic fire control for antiaircraft guns. RCA tried both analog and digital circuits, concluding that analog was faster and digital

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