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Obituaries -- James Henry Richardson Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129970D
Original Publication Date: 1996-Dec-31
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-07
Document File: 2 page(s) / 16K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

Herb Grosch: AUTHOR [+2]


Las Cruces, New Mexico

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

Obituaries -- James Henry Richardson

Herb Grosch

Las Cruces, New Mexico

James Henry Richardson, pioneer computer designer for the Los Alamos National Laboratory and early expert on electrostatic storage, died on May 30, 1996, after a long illness. He was 77.

Born in Superior, Wisconsin, on June 10, 1918, Richardson lost his U.S. citizenship in 1939 when he joined the Canadian Army. He served with the Royal Signal Corps and then worked for the National Research Council of Canada and the Canadian Armament Research Division in Valcartier, Quebec. He was a technician at the University of Toronto in the early phases of the design and construction of the university's UTEC computer.

He regained his U.S. citizenship in 1948. On the basis of his experience with UTEC, he was offered a job as "an automatic soldering iron" by the Los Alamos Laboratory in 1949 to work in the Mathematical Analyzer, Integrator, and Computer (MANIAC) Computer Group. Here he quickly rose to a more senior position, as he designed and constructed the storage systems and arithmetic controls for the MANIAC I. This was an improved version of the IAS, the von Neumann computer, which was then in its third year of construction at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton. Richardson provided an improvement on the Princeton Williams tube storage system, using two- inch rather than five-inch cathode-ray tubes with an improved control system and vocabulary. During this period, his frequent visits to Toronto provided cross- fertilization between the computer projects, and he came to be known as the number one expert in electrostatic storage.

In 1952, after the completion of MANIAC I, he joined Sperry Rand Corporation briefly and then returned to Los Alamos in 1953, where he helped design and construct MANIAC II, which was started in 1955. He remained at Los Alamos for the rest of his career. He helped develop thermistor circuitry for the Los Alamos Meson Physics Facilities (LAMPF). In 1971 he moved to Computer Controls and Instrumentation, where he developed radiation detection equipment and circuitry for the Beam Spill Monitor. In 1976 he went to Accelerator Support, where he worked on solving special problems of LAMPF's electronic systems. He retired in 1980 but continued to be active as a Los Alamos consultant.

He is survived by his wife Kay, two daughters from a previous marriage, and three grandchildren.

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