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Browse Prior Art Database

Mauchly: Unpublished Remarks

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129397D
Original Publication Date: 1982-Jul-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-05
Document File: 17 page(s) / 68K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

Henry S. Tropp: AUTHOR [+2]

Abstract

During the nine years from 1971, when I first met John W. Mauchly, to 1980, when he died, we held innumerable lengthy telephone conversations that increased in frequency, duration, and lateness of hour as the years went by. Many calls lasted two or three hours. They were usually triggered by some item in a historical document about which John Kit the need to comment or dispute. On one occasion in 1977, John's normally amiable and friendly tone was replaced with gentle anger and reproach. He had just seen a copy of an expository paper of mine ";The Effervescent Years: A Retrospective,"; IEEE Spectrum, February 1974) and was upset with me for not having sent him a copy. My memory was that I had, but then I'm so forgetful that he may well have been right. He was more upset by my ";errors,"; which he proceeded to list. When he finished, I agreed that Al his objections were valid and asked him to write them up and send them to me so that I wouldn't make the same mistakes again. John agreed, as he always did, but past experience warned me that he probably wouldn't get around to it. I was more than mildly surprised when he did write up his comments in the letter that follows. He had recently purchased a personal computer, and I think the letter was an opportunity to use it -- a kind of jump from ENIAC/BINAC/ UNIVAC to TRS- 80. We have edited the letter slightly for punctuation and spelling. Following the letter from John to me is a letter he wrote to the meteorologist N. Helm Clayton on November 15, 1940. This is the Clayton mentioned in the sixth paragraph of John's letter to me. Kay Mauchly found a copy of the Clayton letter while going through John's papers. John's interest in the problem of weather prediction spanned his entire professional career. A clear memory I have from my first visit to the Mauchly household in Ambler is a massive collection of daily weather charts piled high in several different rooms. In 1973 John was asked to join a group of Univac executives for a ";fireside chat"; in Rome. An edited version of that talk is presented here, with an introduction by Carl Hammer. Because of the interest in the long article on the ENIAC in the Annals (Volume 3, Number 4, October 1981), our editor-in-chief asked Arthur W. Burks and Alice R. Burks to comment on pertinent parts of the letter from Mauchly to me and on his Rome talk. Their afterword closes our article.

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THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

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

Mauchly: Unpublished Remarks

Henry S. Tropp

(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 the 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: A.0 [General] -- biographies, J. W. Mauchly; K.2 [History of Computing] -- RNIAC, hardware, J. W. Mauchly, people. General Terms: Experimentation, Deign, Human Factors. Additional Key Words and Phrases: meteorology, J. V. Atanasoff, litigation. © 1982 AFIPS 0164-1239/82/030245-256

Mauchly: Unpublished Remarks

Henry S. Tropp .00/00)

Foreword

During the nine years from 1971, when I first met John W. Mauchly, to 1980, when he died, we held innumerable lengthy telephone conversations that increased in frequency, duration, and lateness of hour as the years went by. Many calls lasted two or three hours. They were usually triggered by some item in a historical document about which John Kit the need to comment or dispute. On one occasion in 1977, John's normally amiable and friendly tone was replaced with gentle anger and reproach. He had just seen a copy of an expository paper of mine "The Effervescent Years: A Retrospective," IEEE Spectrum, February 1974) and was upset with me for not having sent him a copy. My memory was that I had, but then I'm so forgetful that he may well have been right. He was more upset by my "errors," which he proceeded to list. When he finished, I agreed that Al his objections were valid and asked him to write them up and send them to me so that I wouldn't make the same mistakes again. John agreed, as he always did, but past experience warned me that he probably wouldn't get around to it. I was more than mildly surprised when he did write up his comments in the letter that follows. He had recently purchased a personal computer, and I think the letter was an opportunity to use it -- a kind of jump from ENIAC/BINAC/ UNIVAC to TRS- 80. We have edited the letter slightly for punctuation and spelling.

Following the letter from John to me is a letter he wrote to the meteorologist N. Helm Clayton on November 15, 1940. This is the Clayton mentioned in the sixth paragraph of John's letter to me. Kay Mauchly found a copy of the Clayton letter while going through John's papers. John's interest in the problem of weather prediction spanned his entire professional career. A clear memory I have from my first visit to the Mauchly household in Ambler is a massive collec...