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The Project MAC Interviews Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129737D
Original Publication Date: 1992-Jun-30
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-07

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

IEEE Computer Society: OWNER


The Project MAC Interviews

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

The Project MAC Interviews

Location: Laboratory for Computer Science Fifth-Floor Conference Room Massachusetts Institute of Technology 545 Technology Square Cambridge, Mass.

Date: October 18, 1988

Participants: Fernando J. Corbato Robert M. Fano Martin Greenberger Joseph C.R. Licklider Douglas T. Ross Allan L. Scherr

Interviewers: John A. N. Lee, Editor-in-Chief, IEEE Annals of the History of Computing Robert Rosin, Editor, IEEE Annals of the History of Computing

On the day following the celebration of the 25th anniversary of Project MAC held in Cambridge on October 16 and 17,1988, two small groups of participants in the developments of CTSS and Project MAC met to exchange recollections about their activities. These interviews are separated into two parts, concentrating on each of the two developmental stages of time- sharing, although it was impossible to strictly maintain the separation since the discussions naturally overlapped the time periods. (Part 1, "The CTSS Interviews," appeared in the IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, Vol. 14, No. 1.) By choice, the interviewers guided the discussion to concentrate on the more personal and background aspects of this history, since the technological history has been well documented in the open literature. (See the References and Bibliography section on pp. 49-50, and in Vol. 14. No. I.) The footnotes and reference citations were added during editing.

Biographical sketches -- Greenberger, Licklider, and Fano

Greenberger: My first experience with computers was as a Harvard student. I worked with the [Harvard] Mark I [ASCC]. Howard Aiken was my adviser. I started at Harvard in 1949. During the Korean War, I went into the Air Force. Because of my Harvard Computation Laboratory connection, I requested duty at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. It had the largest arsenal of electromechanical computing equipment -- which was all there was at that time. I had correspondence, before enlisting, with the officers there. They assured me that as soon as I got through the basic training, I would be transferred to their facility. But during basic training, the officer in charge of the Human Resources Research Center there (later known as the Air Force Personnel and Training Research Center) tried to make me a deal. I thanked him and said, "While the offer sounds very interesting, I already have an agreement to go to Wright Patterson." He replied, "Well, that's all right, Martin, just put us down as your second choice."

The next thing I knew I was being shipped to the Center's headquarters in Texas. That's where I spent two years. It turned out well. I was able to publish some papers there and get some excellent early computer experience, originally on the IBM 602A electromechanical computer, and later on the IB...