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Comments, Queries and Debate: Two Early European Computers Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129575D
Original Publication Date: 1988-Jun-30
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-06
Document File: 1 page(s) / 13K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

C. J. (Mike) Fern, Jr.: AUTHOR [+2]


Couina, California, USA

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Copyright ©; 1988 by the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. Used with permission.

Comments, Queries and Debate: Two Early European Computers

C. J. (Mike) Fern, Jr.

Couina, California, USA

I believe William Aspray omitted two historic machines from his list of computers built in Europe before and during 1955 (Annals, Vol. 8, No. 4, pp. 351-360).

The first is a machine at the Institut Blaise Pascal in Paris. This was not the machine that Louis Couffignal described in a paper presented at the 1949 Harvard symposium, but it was part of that project. A photograph of the machine appears in Les Machines a Penser, a popular paperback book about computing by Couffignal, which was published in France in 1952 by Editions de Minuit. He apparently did not go into detail about either machine in the book. Couffignal's original design called for delay-line storage and a fast memory using neon lamps. The photograph of the "machine pilote" in his book shows a device which resembles a magnetic drum or an oscilloscope. The computer proper is in two or three relay racks mounted on casters.

The second historic computer is Willem van der Poel's "minimum machine," which he built and ran between 1951 and 1953. This computer was made out of subassemblies for the Netherlands Postal Service's computer PTERA. Pieces of van der Poel's machine disappeared into PTERA when ZERO was finally assembled.

Van d...