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Minutes of 1947 Patent Conference, Moore School of Electrical Engineering, University of Pennsylvania

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129466D
Original Publication Date: 1985-Apr-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-06
Document File: 29 page(s) / 94K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

IEEE Computer Society: OWNER

Abstract

A conference was held at the Moore School of Electrical Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania on April 8, 1947, to discuss patent matters with regard to priority issues surrounding the development of electronic digital computers. The conference was initiated by government officials eager to resolve some of the pending patent issues concerning the EDVAC. Among those present were J. Presper Eckert, John W. Mauchly, John von Neumann, and Herman H. Goldstine. The minutes of the meeting, published with an introductory note, help clarify our vision of these four protagonists in the continuing controversy over priority. They also show some of the dramatic aspects of patent questions. Perhaps most important, the minutes provide insight into how some of the patent issues were finally resolved.

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THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

Copyright ©; 1985 by the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. Used with permission.

Minutes of 1947 Patent Conference, Moore School of Electrical Engineering, University of Pennsylvania

(Image Omitted: © 1985 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. © 1985AFIPS0164-1239/85/020100-116

Minutes of 1947 Patent Conference, Moore School of Electrical Engineering, University of Pennsylvania

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A conference was held at the Moore School of Electrical Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania on April 8, 1947, to discuss patent matters with regard to priority issues surrounding the development of electronic digital computers. The conference was initiated by government officials eager to resolve some of the pending patent issues concerning the EDVAC. Among those present were J. Presper Eckert, John W. Mauchly, John von Neumann, and Herman H. Goldstine. The minutes of the meeting, published with an introductory note, help clarify our vision of these four protagonists in the continuing controversy over priority. They also show some of the dramatic aspects of patent questions. Perhaps most important, the minutes provide insight into how some of the patent issues were finally resolved.

Categories and Subject Descriptors: K.2 [History of Computing] -- hardware, people, software.
K. 5 m [Legal Aspects of Computing] -- hardware patents Genera/ Terms: Human Factors, Legal Aspects Additional Key Words and Phrases: J. P. Eckert, H. H. Goldstine, J. W. Mauchly,
J. von Neumann, Moore School, EN/AC, EDVAC

Introduction

The controversy surrounding J. Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchly's role in the development of electronic digital computers in the 1940s has had a long and interesting history. The pages of the Annals, as well as those of many other recent historical publications, have depicted various facets of that controversy from differing perspectives.

Most of the attention regarding Eckert and Mauchly's role tends to focus on the ENIAC and its relationship -- both direct and indirect -- to John Vincent Atanasoff's ABC machine. To date, far less has been written about another controversy -- one that has, I believe, far more substance in that it sheds light on the interaction between technological and theoretical advances as they relate to the stored- program computer of the 1940s.

In 1944, John von Neumann became a consultant to the Moore School of Electrical Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania, wher...