Computers In February, the public got its first glimpse of the ENIAC, a machine built by John Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert that improved by 1,000 times on the speed of its contemporaries.
Start of project:
plug board and switches
5,000 operations per second
cards, lights, switches, plugs
1,000 square feet
John Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert.
Computers An inspiring summer school on computing at the University of Pennsylvania´s Moore School of Electrical Engineering stimulated construction of stored-program computers at universities and research institutions. This free, public set of lectures inspired the EDSAC, BINAC, and, later, IAS machine clones like the AVIDAC. Here, Warren Kelleher completes the wiring of the arithmetic unit components of the AVIDAC at Argonne National Laboratory. Robert Dennis installs the inter-unit wiring as James Woody Jr. adjusts the deflection control circuits of the memory unit.
Computers IBM´s Selective Sequence Electronic Calculator computed scientific data in public display near the company´s Manhattan headquarters. Before its decommissioning in 1952, the SSEC produced the moon-position tables used for plotting the course of the 1969 Apollo flight to the moon.
Computers Engineering Research Associates of Minneapolis built the ERA 1101, the first commercially produced computer; the company´s first customer was the U.S. Navy. It held 1 million bits on its magnetic drum, the earliest magnetic storage devices. Drums registered information as magnetic pulses in tracks around a metal cylinder. Read/write heads both recorded and recovered the data. Drums eventually stored as many as 4,000 words and retrieved any one of them in as little as five-thousandths of a second.
Computers The National Bureau of Standards constructed the SEAC (Standards Eastern Automatic Computer) in Washington as a laboratory for testing components and systems for setting computer standards. The SEAC was the first computer to use all-diode logic, a technology more reliable than vacuum tubes, and the first stored-program computer completed in the United States. Magnetic tape in the external storage units (shown on the right of this photo) stored programming information, coded subroutines, numerical data, and output.
Computers The National Bureau of Standards completed its SWAC (Standards Western Automatic Computer) at the Institute for Numerical Analysis in Los Angeles. Rather than testing components like its companion, the SEAC, the SWAC had an objective of computing using already-developed technology.
Computers Alan Turing´s philosophy directed design of Britain´s Pilot ACE at the National Physical Laboratory. "We are trying to build a machine to do all kinds of different things simply by programming rather than by the addition of extra apparatus," Turing said at a symposium on large-scale digital calculating machinery in 1947 in Cambridge, Mass.
Start of project:
352 32-digit words
800 vacuum tubes
12 square feet
J. H. Wilkinson
Computers MIT´s Whirlwind debuted on Edward R. Murrow´s "See It Now" television series. Project director Jay Forrester described the computer as a "reliable operating system," running 35 hours a week at 90-percent utility using an electrostatic tube memory.
Start of project:
cathode ray tube, paper tape, magnetic tape
2048 16-digit words
cathode ray tube, magnetic drum, tape (1953 - core memory)
4,500 vacuum tubes, 14,800 diodes
3,100 square feet
Jay Forrester and Robert Everett
Computers England´s first commercial computer, the Lyons Electronic Office, solved clerical problems. The president of Lyons Tea Co. had the computer, modeled after the EDSAC, built to solve the problem of daily scheduling production and delivery of cakes to the Lyons tea shops. After the success of the first LEO, Lyons went into business manufacturing computers to meet the growing need for data processing systems.
Computers The UNIVAC I delivered to the U.S. Census Bureau was the first commercial computer to attract widespread public attention. Although manufactured by Remington Rand, the machine often was mistakenly referred to as the "IBM UNIVAC." Remington Rand eventually sold 46 machines at more than $1 million each.F.O.B. factory $750,000 plus $185,000 for a high speed printer.
Computers John von Neumann´s IAS computer became operational at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton, N.J. Contract obliged the builders to share their designs with other research institutes. This resulted in a number of clones: the MANIAC at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, the ILLIAC at the University of Illinois, the Johnniac at Rand Corp., the SILLIAC in Australia, and others.
Computers IBM shipped its first electronic computer, the 701. During three years of production, IBM sold 19 machines to research laboratories, aircraft companies, and the federal government.
Computers The IBM 650 magnetic drum calculator established itself as the first mass-produced computer, with the company selling 450 in one year. Spinning at 12,500 rpm, the 650´s magnetic data-storage drum allowed much faster access to stored material than drum memory machines.
Computers MIT researchers built the TX-0, the first general-purpose, programmable computer built with transistors. For easy replacement, designers placed each transistor circuit inside a "bottle," similar to a vacuum tube. Constructed at MIT´s Lincoln Laboratory, the TX-0 moved to the MIT Research Laboratory of Electronics, where it hosted some early imaginative tests of programming, including a Western movie shown on TV, 3-D tic-tac-toe, and a maze in which mouse found martinis and became increasingly inebriated.
SAGE operator station
Computers SAGE — Semi-Automatic Ground Environment — linked hundreds of radar stations in the United States and Canada in the first large-scale computer communications network. An operator directed actions by touching a light gun to the screen.
The air defense system operated on the AN/FSQ-7 computer (known as Whirlwind II during its development at MIT) as its central computer. Each computer used a full megawatt of power to drive its 55,000 vacuum tubes, 175,000 diodes and 13,000 transistors.
Computers Japan´s NEC built the country´s first electronic computer, the NEAC 1101.
Computers IBM´s 7000 series mainframes were the company´s first transistorized computers. At the top of the line of computers — all of which emerged significantly faster and more dependable than vacuum tube machines — sat the 7030, also known as the "Stretch." Nine of the computers, which featured a 64-bit word and other innovations, were sold to national laboratories and other scientific users. L. R. Johnson first used the term "architecture" in describing the Stretch.
Computers The precursor to the minicomputer, DEC´s PDP-1 sold for $120,000. One of 50 built, the average PDP-1 included with a cathode ray tube graphic display, needed no air conditioning and required only one operator. It´s large scope intrigued early hackers at MIT, who wrote the first computerized video game, SpaceWar!, for it. The SpaceWar! creators then used the game as a standard demonstration on all 50 computers.
Computers According to Datamation magazine, IBM had an 81.2-percent share of the computer market in 1961, the year in which it introduced the 1400 Series. The 1401 mainframe, the first in the series, replaced the vacuum tube with smaller, more reliable transistors and used a magnetic core memory.
Demand called for more than 12,000 of the 1401 computers, and the machine´s success made a strong case for using general-purpose computers rather than specialized systems.