Browse Prior Art Database

The Beginnings at MIT: Chronology of Computer Activity at MIT

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129705D
Original Publication Date: 1992-Mar-31
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-06
Document File: 2 page(s) / 19K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

J.A.N. Lee: AUTHOR [+2]

Abstract

Two key elements were necessary to implement time-shared, interactive computing: interfaces with communications facilities, a machine design that supported interrupts, memory protection, and a large fast-access external store. Each of these elements was feasible in 1959, as demonstrated by George R. Stibitz in 1940 and by the SAGE development in 1957. The first public demonstration of remote operation of a digital computer and of computer-telephone communications was conducted as part of the 1940 annual meeting of the Mathematical Association of America. Problems were entered into a teletypewriter located in McNutt Hall on the Dartmouth campus in Hanover, N.H. They were then transmitted via standard Bell System telecommunications facilities to the Bell Telephone Laboratories in New York City, where they were solved on-line by the BTL Model 1 Complex Number Calculator. The results were immediately returned on-line via the same telecommunications link to the teletypewriter located on the Dartmouth campus, 250 miles away. Stibitz, who was behind both the demonstration and the digital computer used in it, was then a mathematician on the technics, staff of the Bell Telephone Laboratories. (Now he is professor emeritus of physiology at the Dartmouth Medical School.)

This text was extracted from a PDF file.
This is the abbreviated version, containing approximately 49% of the total text.

Page 1 of 2

THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

Copyright ©; 1992 by the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. Used with permission.

The Beginnings at MIT: Chronology of Computer Activity at MIT

J.A.N. Lee

Two key elements were necessary to implement time-shared, interactive computing: interfaces with communications facilities, a machine design that supported interrupts, memory protection, and a large fast-access external store. Each of these elements was feasible in 1959, as demonstrated by George R. Stibitz in 1940 and by the SAGE development in 1957.

The first public demonstration of remote operation of a digital computer and of computer- telephone communications was conducted as part of the 1940 annual meeting of the Mathematical Association of America. Problems were entered into a teletypewriter located in McNutt Hall on the Dartmouth campus in Hanover, N.H. They were then transmitted via standard Bell System telecommunications facilities to the Bell Telephone Laboratories in New York City, where they were solved on-line by the BTL Model 1 Complex Number Calculator. The results were immediately returned on-line via the same telecommunications link to the teletypewriter located on the Dartmouth campus, 250 miles away.

Stibitz, who was behind both the demonstration and the digital computer used in it, was then a mathematician on the technics, staff of the Bell Telephone Laboratories. (Now he is professor emeritus of physiology at the Dartmouth Medical School.)

Stibitz describes the ability to do remote computing as a natural and integral part of the design of his system. It was natural and "no big thing" to demonstrate this device at Dartmouth by leaving the computer where it was and operating it remotely via a teletypewriter link, rather than going to all the trouble and expense of moving the machine itself from New York to Hanover. After all, teletypewriters in other departments in BTL had already tapped into the system on occasion to get their computations done. The length of the teletype line, whether it was 25 feet or 250 miles, involved no major change in operational techniques or concept.29

In their 1957 paper, "SAGE -- A Data Processing System for Air Defense" (Proc. EJCC 6) 1957 IRE (now IEEE)), R.R. Everett, C.A. Zraket, and H.D. Bennington20 described the working of the SAGE system and not only used the term "time-sharing" but also provided their own description:

(Image Omitted: The central computer performs air-defense processing in the following manner (see figure 1 [reproduced on the facing page]). The buffer storage tables, the system-status data, and the system computer program are organized in hundreds of blocks -- each block containing from 25 to 4000 computer words. A short sequence-control program in the central computer's core memory transfers appropriate program and data blocks into core memory, initiates processing, and then returns appropriate table blocks (but nev...