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IEEE Annals of the History of Computing Volume 4 Number 4 -- Front Matter

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129399D
Original Publication Date: 1982-Oct-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-05
Document File: 2 page(s) / 16K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

IEEE Computer Society: OWNER

Abstract

A few computers have received a great deal of attention in the pages of the Annals and in historical studies in general, perhaps because they had an influence on subsequent machines or events. Other computers have not become so well known, even though they may have involved important ideas and innovations. One computer that deserves more recognition is the Selective Sequence Electronic Calculator (SSEC) produced by the IBM Corporation in the late 1940s. Several reasons why this machine is sometimes overlooked are discussed in the article by Charles J. Bashe, who also considers some of the SSEC'S distinctive features. For example, it was the first machine capable of operating on its own instructions as data. In 1948 John C. McPherson, Frank E. Hamilton, and Robert E. Seeber, Jr., of IBM wrote a paper about the SSEC. It was never published and now accompanies the Bashe article. The authors show how to prepare programs for the SSEC; a large amount of detail was necessary to specify a program of instructions, and it is clear that the architects of the SSEC had remarkable insight. It is also obvious that the art of computer programming has come a long way since then. Based on a talk he gave at MIT, Brian Randell wrote the article about Ludgate, Torres, and Bush, three computing pioneers who have not been widely recognized for their contributions to modern digital computing. Percy Ludgate proposed an innovative calculating machine in 1909, Leonardo Torres y Quevedo actually built a demonstration machine in 1920, and Vannevar Bush worked on the design of an electronic digital computer in 1936! Besides discussing the work of these men, Randell tells us how he uncovered his evidence -- including calls to every Ludgate in the Dublin telephone directory.

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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.

Annals of the History of Computing Volume 4 Number 4 October 1982

Contents About this Issue.....295

Articles The SSEC in Historical Perspective Charles J. Bashe.....296 A Large-Scale, General-
Purpose Electronic Digital Calculator..... The SSEC John C. McPherson, Frank E. Hamilton, and
Robert R. Seeber, Jr. From Analytical Engine to Electronic Digital Computer: The Contributions of Ludgate, Torres, and Bush - Brian Randell.....327 Work and Tools Peter Drucker.....342 Early
Computing at Los Alamos N. Metropolis and E. C. Nelson.....348

Departments Meetings in Retrospect: Pioneer Day, NCC '82.....358 History of the Stored-
Program Concept - William F. Aspray The 25th Anniversary of FORTRAN - Virginia C. Walker

Comments, Queries, and Debate.....368 Computer Circuit Design in the 1940s - Bryon E.
Phelps Victor M. Glushkov Isaac L. Auerbach Lectures at "Atlanta State"- Martin Davis

Anecdotes....371 Alexander Craig Aitkin Garry J. Tee Leslie John Comrie Henry S. Tropp MAD Compiler Bernard A. Galler

News and Notices.....373

Reviews.....374 Algorithmic Languages, by de Bakker and van Vliet Capsule Reviews [Material
omitted]

About this Issue

A few computers have received a great deal of attention in the pages of the Annals and in historical studies in general, perhaps because they had an influence on subsequent machines or events. Other computers have not become so well known, even though they may have involved important ideas and innovations. One computer that deserves more recognition is the Selective Sequence Electronic Calculator (SSEC) produced by the IBM Corporation in the late 1940s. Several reasons why this machine is sometimes overlooked are discussed in the article by Charles J. Bashe, who also considers some of the SSEC'S distinctive features. For example, it was the first machine capable of operating on its own instructions as data.

In 1948 John C. McPherson, Frank E. Hamilton, and Robert E. Seeber, Jr., of IBM wrote a paper about the SSEC. It was never published and now accompanies the Bashe article. The authors show how to prepare programs for the SSEC; a large amount of detail was necessary to specify a program of instructions, and it is clear that the architects of the SSEC had remarkable insight. It is also obvious that the art of computer programming has come a long way since then.

Based on a talk he gave at MIT, Brian...