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Biographies: Stephen Warner Dunwell

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129834D
Original Publication Date: 1994-Dec-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-07
Document File: 5 page(s) / 25K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

IEEE Computer Society: OWNER

Abstract

Stephen Warner Dunwell was born April 3, 1913, in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He died just short of his 81st birthday on March 21, 1994, in Poughkeepsie, New York, after a lengthy struggle with cancer. During his 42 years with IBM, Steve Dunwell (whom his IBM colleagues early in his career called ";Red";) was known best for his leadership of Project Stretch, which produced the IBM 7030 supercomputer delivered in 1961. Less well known is the fact that he was one of a few key individuals who persuaded IBM's top management to switch from punched-card machines to computers in the early 1950s. For this alone, he deserves to be considered a computer pioneer. But his earlier work remained virtually unknown outside of IBM until recently, because he insisted on assigning credit for his ideas to his coworkers and having them publish technical papers and reports.

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THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

This record contains textual material that is copyright ©; 1994 by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. All rights reserved. Contact the IEEE Computer Society http://www.computer.org/ (714-821-8380) for copies of the complete work that was the source of this textual material and for all use beyond that as a record from the SPI Database.

Biographies: Stephen Warner Dunwell

Stephen Warner Dunwell was born April 3, 1913, in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He died just short of his 81st birthday on March 21, 1994, in Poughkeepsie, New York, after a lengthy struggle with cancer.

During his 42 years with IBM, Steve Dunwell (whom his IBM colleagues early in his career called "Red") was known best for his leadership of Project Stretch, which produced the IBM 7030 supercomputer delivered in 1961. Less well known is the fact that he was one of a few key individuals who persuaded IBM's top management to switch from punched-card machines to computers in the early 1950s. For this alone, he deserves to be considered a computer pioneer. But his earlier work remained virtually unknown outside of IBM until recently, because he insisted on assigning credit for his ideas to his coworkers and having them publish technical papers and reports.

Dunwell's first contact with electronics came in 1928 when, while in high school, he designed, built, and operated an amateur radio station, W8CGQ. During the Depression years he attended Antioch College, Ohio, where he majored in electrical engineering. In 1933, as part of a cooperative program with IBM, he entered an IBM student engineering program in Endicott, New York. A year later he left Antioch before graduating and accepted a much-needed job offer from IBM in Endicott.

He specialized in modifying punched-card equipment to meet the needs of individual customers and became one of a small group which experimented with electronics. In 1937, as a demonstration to IBM management of the possibilities of using electronics in punched-card machines, he designed and built an experimental machine that sorted marked cards. Also during that period, he designed and built the switching device used by Dr. Wallace Eckert of Columbia University (who later joined IBM as head of the Watson laboratory at Columbia) for experiments in computing the lunar orbit with punched-card machines. In 1938 Dunwell transferred to IBM's World Headquarters in New York City, where he worked on the specification and design of future IBM products.

When the United States entered World War II, Dunwell returned to the Endicott laboratory, where he became a member of the engineering team that developed the IBM Radiotype. This radio-operated typewriter allowed the Army Signal Corps for the first time to relay messages through its radio network without manual intervention. In May 1942 Dunwell was directly commissioned as a second lieutenant in the US Army and was assigned to t...