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The First Operating System for the EDVAC

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129981D
Original Publication Date: 1997-Jan-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-07
Document File: 8 page(s) / 32K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

GEORGE W. REITWIESNER: AUTHOR [+2]

Abstract

This paper describes the first operating system was designed for the first internally electronic digital computer: the EDVAC. This operating system was developed during 1952 and was implemented early in 1953. Devised for one of the earliest electronic digital computers, its capacities were modest compared to later standards, yet some of its features are recognizable in later operating systems. It was planned carefully, and it was comprehensive and useful in the context of its time.

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THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

Copyright ©; 1997 by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

The First Operating System for the EDVAC

GEORGE W. REITWIESNER

This paper describes the first operating system was designed for the first internally electronic digital computer: the EDVAC. This operating system was developed during 1952 and was implemented early in 1953. Devised for one of the earliest electronic digital computers, its capacities were modest compared to later standards, yet some of its features are recognizable in later operating systems. It was planned carefully, and it was comprehensive and useful in the context of its time.

[Editor's note: This paper was apparently originally written on Oct. 29, 1971, but was never published It was discovered when the Annals editor-in-chief was helping Horne Reitwiesner, the author's widow, look over her late husband's books and papers. Because of the author's death, this paper could not be reviewed or revised according to our usual procedures.]

Introduction

The Electronic Discrete Variable Computer (EDVAC) was the 1 first conceived internally programmed electronic digital computer (a few others became reliably operational more quickly). This paper briefly describes that computer in the context of its time and the first operating system that was designed for it.

The first electronic digital computer was the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC). It was built by and was initially operated at the Moore School of Electrical Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania. It was moved to and began operating at the U.S. Army Ordnance Department's Ballistic Research Laboratories at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, in 1947. The EDVAC was conceived while the ENIAC was being constructed. Design considerations in the transition from the ENIAC to the EDVAC were described on July 15, 1946, in Lecture 10 of the series of lectures on the Theory and Techniques for Design of Electronic Digital Cornputers3 given at the Moore School during the summer 1946. In that lecture the EDVAC was preliminarily described as a three-address computer with a store of 1,000 words each of 10 decimal digits and sign. EDVAC was delivered to the Ballistic Research Laboratories in 1949 as a four-address serial computer with a mercury acoustic delay line store of 1,024 words each of 44 binary digits and began operating therein in 1951 with five-hole paper tape input and output and typewriter output.

First Use of the EDVAC

The first nontrivial problem solved on the EDVAC was that of diagonalizing, by iterated two- dimensional orthogonal rotation, the family of symmetric matrices of signed combinatorial coefficients [NB: math has not been copy edited] This was selected as a trial problem and was planned, programmed, coded in octal, punched into paper tape, checked out, and run, yielding answers for r = 3 for matrices o...