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Changing Computing: The Computing Community and DARPA

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129935D
Original Publication Date: 1996-Jun-30
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-07
Document File: 20 page(s) / 85K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

ARTHUR L. NORBERG: AUTHOR [+2]

Abstract

Narratives about historical developments during the so-called ";pioneer period"; of electronic digital computing, that is, 1940 to 1960, emphasize the role and desires of military and defense personnel. For example, in Herman Goldstine's memoirs, we learn of his role with the U.S. Army in developing ENIAC and as a project leader in developing the IAS computer [1]. He gives some insight into the nature of certain Army policies toward computer development during and immediately after World War 11. Moreover, Nancy Stern refers to many documents written by Army personnel that illustrate the Army's explicit part in the evolution of ENIAC and UNIVAC [2]. The Army formulated policy for their use in specific Army tasks at a time when the full competence of these machines was yet to be discovered. The role of military policies and people are also portrayed in Mina Rees' memoir discussing the Office of Naval Research (ONR) support of computer development in the 1940s and 1950s [3]. When researchers come to examine a larger, more extensive, ";military"; role in stimulating computing R&D, however, their writings are regularly faceless, motiveless, results-dominated descriptions of developments, even when they focus on the contractors and their products. In these works, the military services and the DOD stand in the background as sources of money, but are not actors in the events. Individuals from DOD are virtually never mentioned, and results are equated with policy intent [4].

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THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

Copyright ©; 1996 by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Changing Computing: The Computing Community and DARPA

ARTHUR L. NORBERG

Between 1962 and 1986, the Information Processing Techniques Office (IPTO) of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency provided significant support for computer science R&D. The design and implementation of the support programs of this office was the responsibility of a small group of computer scientists who emerged from the growing computer science community. Program directors focused on radical technologies, organized programs to develop them, and promoted their use in various settings, with substantial success. A better understanding of the evolution of the Department of Defense's policy for computing R&D can be gained from an analysis of the backgrounds, research experience, interests, and methods of the people engaged to design and implement this policy in IPTO.

Introduction

Narratives about historical developments during the so-called "pioneer period" of electronic digital computing, that is, 1940 to 1960, emphasize the role and desires of military and defense personnel. For example, in Herman Goldstine's memoirs, we learn of his role with the U.S. Army in developing ENIAC and as a project leader in developing the IAS computer [1]. He gives some insight into the nature of certain Army policies toward computer development during and immediately after World War 11. Moreover, Nancy Stern refers to many documents written by Army personnel that illustrate the Army's explicit part in the evolution of ENIAC and UNIVAC [2]. The Army formulated policy for their use in specific Army tasks at a time when the full competence of these machines was yet to be discovered. The role of military policies and people are also portrayed in Mina Rees' memoir discussing the Office of Naval Research (ONR) support of computer development in the 1940s and 1950s [3]. When researchers come to examine a larger, more extensive, "military" role in stimulating computing R&D, however, their writings are regularly faceless, motiveless, results-dominated descriptions of developments, even when they focus on the contractors and their products. In these works, the military services and the DOD stand in the background as sources of money, but are not actors in the events. Individuals from DOD are virtually never mentioned, and results are equated with policy intent [4].

Still, results, even from successful developments, are not a policy. Results are also not a program. In addition, the DOD is not a monolithic entity, where programs and policies are agreed to after due deliberation, and promulgated down to lower levels for implementation. In fact, DOD is a collection of fiefdoms of a sort, in which the interests of specific groups are implemented. A group may be involved in tasks where new instrumentati...