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Automatic Computing Machinery

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129389D
Original Publication Date: 1982-Apr-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-05
Document File: 5 page(s) / 26K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

GEORGE R. STIBITZ: AUTHOR [+2]

Abstract

The editor of the Annals wrote me asking for comments ";with the hindsight of 25 or more years"; on two notes I wrote in 1947 and in 1960. Hindsights can be most embarrassing, but in this case I find that my views have not been completely destroyed by the passage of time; they have been somewhat modified, however. The later note (MTAC, July 1950) was an annoyed complaint about unfounded statements regarding the computers of the day. I still believe that prominent personages as well as popular reporters have a moral obligation root to mislead their readers. I have no doubt that the computer suffered from overstatements and misstatements in those early days. People expected miracles from the new developments and were irritated when those miracles did not materialize at once. The earlier note (MTAC, October 1947) was an attempt to outguess the future of computer development. It asked and tried to answer the question as to whether computers would be or should be ";large"; or ";small. "; I suppose we would now agree that the answer is ";both,"; and in a cautious way I came to that conclusion in the 1947 note.

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This is the abbreviated version, containing approximately 20% of the total text.

Page 1 of 5

THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

Copyright ©; 1982 by the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. Used with permission.

Automatic Computing Machinery

GEORGE R. STIBITZ

(Image Omitted: © 1982 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. Categories and Subject Descriptors: K.2 [History of Computing] -- software, hardware. General Terms: Design, Experimentation. Author's Address: Department of Physiology, Dartmouth Medical School, Hanover, NH 03755. © 1982 AFIPS

0164-1239/82/020140-142

Automatic Computing Machinery

GEORGE R. STIBITZ .00/00)

Introduction

The editor of the Annals wrote me asking for comments "with the hindsight of 25 or more years" on two notes I wrote in 1947 and in 1960. Hindsights can be most embarrassing, but in this case I find that my views have not been completely destroyed by the passage of time; they have been somewhat modified, however.

The later note (MTAC, July 1950) was an annoyed complaint about unfounded statements regarding the computers of the day. I still believe that prominent personages as well as popular reporters have a moral obligation root to mislead their readers. I have no doubt that the computer suffered from overstatements and misstatements in those early days. People expected miracles from the new developments and were irritated when those miracles did not materialize at once.

The earlier note (MTAC, October 1947) was an attempt to outguess the future of computer development. It asked and tried to answer the question as to whether computers would be or should be "large" or "small. " I suppose we would now agree that the answer is "both," and in a cautious way I came to that conclusion in the 1947 note.

We must recall that in 1947 when the MTAC note was written there were no small computers capable of sophisticated behavior. At that time, and for some years thereafter, the efforts of designers were spent on large and elaborate computers.

As the MTAC note shows, I hoped for small but versatile computers that would be valuable in science and engineering. Within a few years of writing that note I was involved with the Barber- Coleman Company in the design and construction of a very small ($20,000 or so) computer for these fields and for businesses. A pilot model using vacuum tubes, magnetic disks, and a high- speed (60 cps) typewriter did work; but the tasks of distribution, selling, maintenance, and

IEEE Computer Society, Apr 01, 1982 Page 1 IEEE Annals of the History of Computing Volume 4 Number 2, Pag...