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MOBIDIC and Fieldata

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129536D
Original Publication Date: 1987-Mar-31
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-06

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

WATTS S. HUMPHREY: AUTHOR [+2]

Abstract

Toward the end of World War II, the promise of digital computing was recognized by many people, and work at such U.S. academic centers as the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton, Harvard, and MIT had excited a great deal of interest. Much of this early exploratory work was directly supported by the military, and some of their farsighted planners realized that this new technology could well revolutionize the entire military establishment. The U.S. Army Signal Corps played a key role in guiding this technology; Harold (Hall Silverstein, special assistant to the chief signal officer in the Pentagon at the time, recalls that ";the whole EDP program was charged up, exciting, and achieved extraordinary results in a short time .... We were a happy band of warriors, trusting in each other ... a verbal request or a handshake was a binding commitment.";1 [Footnote] 1 Harold Silverstein made these comments in a set of notes he prepared for me in October 1985 as background for this paper. From this early ferment and excitement, the Signal Corps spawned the Fieldata program and the MOBIDIC (MOBIle DIgital Computer) family of computers. Fieldata was a comprehensive computer-communications program that envisioned the coupling of on-line computers and communications systems in worldwide networks. Though the operational feasibility of such systems did not become practical for several decades, the early experiences of this program had far-reaching consequences. MOBIDIC, for example, was the first, fully transistorized, large-scale, general-purpose computer to be delivered by a manufacturer to a customer"; (Lipton et al. 1964).

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THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

Copyright ©; 1987 by the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. Used with permission.

MOBIDIC and Fieldata

WATTS S. HUMPHREY*

1

(Image Omitted: Author's Address: Software Engineering Institute, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA 15213.)

In the 1950s, the "Golden Age of the Signal Corps," a farsighted U.S. Army Signal Corps program foreshadowed many of the advanced computing and communications technologies that were not to be generally available for several decades. These technologies included compatible computers made by severe/ manufacturers, high-availability systems, standardized interfaces and communication codes, and large- capacity disk files. The early genesis of Fieldata is described as well as the development program for the MC 31DIC machines. Details on machine reliability are provided, together with descriptions of the Fieldata code, the MOBIDIC instruction set, the operation of the MOBIDIC I/O converters, and the MOBIDIC real- time system.

Categories and Subject Descriptors: K.2 [computing Milieux]: History of Computing -- hardware, software, systems. C.1.1. [Computer Systems Organization]: Processor Architectures -- single data stream architectures. B. O. f Hardware1. General. General Terms: Design, Management, Standardization Additional Key Words and Phrases: SISD, MOBIDIC, Fieldata

Introduction

Toward the end of World War II, the promise of digital computing was recognized by many people, and work at such U.S. academic centers as the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton, Harvard, and MIT had excited a great deal of interest. Much of this early exploratory work was directly supported by the military, and some of their farsighted planners realized that this new technology could well revolutionize the entire military establishment.

The U.S. Army Signal Corps played a key role in guiding this technology; Harold (Hall Silverstein, special assistant to the chief signal officer in the Pentagon at the time, recalls that "the whole EDP program was charged up, exciting, and achieved extraordinary results in a short time .... We were a happy band of warriors, trusting in each other ... a verbal request or a handshake was a binding commitment."12

From this early ferment and excitement, the Signal Corps spawned the Fieldata program and the MOBIDIC (MOBIle DIgital Computer) family of computers. Fieldata was a comprehensive computer-communications program that envisioned the coupling of on-line computers and communications systems in worldwide networks. Though the operational feasibility of such systems did not become practical for several decades, the early experiences of this program

1 *This paper was prepared while the author was employed by the International Business Machines Corporation, Poughkeepsie, NY.

2 1 Harold Silverstein made these comments in a set of notes he prepared for me in October 1985 as background for this paper.

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