History of Computing Information
Information about the history of computing,
for your information and edification.
Documents from the
home of the ENIAC
The U. S. Army Research Lab
"ENIAC: The Army-Sponsored Revolution"
, by William T. Moye.
An executive summary of the history of computing.
A complete and concise presentation of the origins of the BRL and the ENIAC,
with names, places, and dates. (4 pages)
- "My Life with the ENIAC - a Worm's Eye View",
as lived by Harry Reed. Plus "Firing Table Calculations on the ENIAC".
The History of Computing at BRL
, by Mike Muuss.
A chronicle of processors, software, and networking at
the U. S. Army Ballistic Research Laboratory, prior
to the installation of the
ENIAC through 1992. (18 pages)
Photographs of Historic Computers
The ENIAC Story
, by Martin H. Weik.
The world's first production electronic digital computer was developed by
Army Ordnance to compute World War II ballistic firing tables.
This is the story of that computer. (6 pages)
Electronic Computers Within the Ordnance Corps
, by Karl Kempf.
This historical monograph covers the pioneer efforts and subsequent
contributions of the U.S. Army Ordnance Corps in the field of automatic
electronic computing systems during the period 1942 through 1961,
pre-electronic computing devices,
It also discusses the use of computers for
solving gunnery problems,
and provides a
of early computers. (140 pages in 7 chapters and 9 appendices)
A Report on the ENIAC
, by Adele Goldstine, 1946.
The original technical description of the ENIAC, including diagrams
and several (pre-von Neumann) ENIAC "programs".
"A Logical Coding System Applied to the ENIAC"
, by R. F. Clippinger.
Ballistic Research Laboratories Report No. 673.
The document describing how the ENIAC was made programmable.
"In the Spring of 1947, J. von Neumann suggested to the author that it
would be possible to run the ENIAC in a way very different from the way
contemplated when it was designed; a way which had very important advantages
to be discussed below."
"It is hoped by the author that this report will make the task of
coding problems so clear and straightforward that physicists, aerodynamicists,
applied mathematicians, etc. with no prior experience with computing machines
can code their own problems...." (40 pages)
"Computers at the University of Pennsylvania's Moore School, 1943-1946"
, by Herman H. Goldstine
A description of the people, missions, and personalities that came together
in the ENIAC project.
Told from the point of view of then-Lieutenant Goldstine who,
with the help of his superior officer, sponsored a development
program at the Moore School looking toward the production of an
electronic digital computer for the BRL. ENIAC was the result.
Important ENIAC Dates
"Colonel Paul Gillon -- Grandfather of ENIAC"
, by Paul H. Deitz. (2 pages)
Dr. John von Neumann at the dedication of the NORD
Hear von Neumann speaking at the dedication of the Navy's NORD
computer. December 2, 1954.
Digitized from a cassette tape provided by Dr. Goldstine.
BRL's Scientific Advisory Committee
in 1940 contained such luminaries as
Prof. von Neumann, Prof. von Karman, Prof Rabi,
COL Zornig, CAPT Simon, Lt. Gillon, Mr. Kent;
they were joined later by Hubble and others.
(1 photo, 3 scanned letters, 2 pages of text).
The Technology Challenge:
How Can America Spark Private Innovation?
by Vice President Gore.
ENIAC Birthday speech delivered at
University of Pennsylvania
February 14, 1996.
Printed References of Interest
- The Computer, from Pascal to von Neumann
by Herman H. Goldstine.
In 1942, Lt. Herman H. Goldstine, a former mathematics professor, was
stationed at the Moore School of Electrical Engineering at the
University of Pennsylvania where he assisted in the creation of the
ENIAC, the first electronic digital computer.
The Purpose of This Archive
- To help the public remember that it was the U. S. Army which
initiated the computer revolution.
Few inventions have had as big an impact on our civilization as
the computer, and all modern computers are descended from
ENIAC, EDVAC, ORDVAC, and BRLESC
-- all of which were conceived of and built to address pressing Army needs.
- To give credit to the highly skilled and dedicated military
and civilian scientists and other workers through whose efforts,
together with their counterparts in the private sector, met
and solved a great national defense challenge while at the same time
giving birth to a technology which would change the world.
- To ensure that detailed information about and photographs of
these early machines not vanish with the passage of time. Because of the
ENIAC's vital role in the design of the hydrogen bomb and in gunnery
calculations, much of the design information was originally classified,
and few copies of the (now de-classified) reports still exist.
When the collection of documents has grown further, a CD-ROM release
of this information is planned. Target date is summer of 1998.
"Where a computer like the ENIAC is equipped with 18,000 vacuum tubes and
weighs 30 tons, computers in the future may have only 1,000 vacuum tubes
and weigh only 1 1/2 tons."
Popular Mechanics, March 1949
U.S. Postal Service Celebration -- First Day of Issue: 50 Years of Computer Technology -- 8 October 1996
(Medium GIF 186k),
(Large JPEG 769k)
At 0930 hours on Tuesday 8-October,
at Aberdeen Proving Ground Maryland (home of the ENIAC)
the U.S. Postal Service
issued a new stamp commemorating the 50th birthday of ENIAC and the
50 years of Computer Technology that have followed.
This was the first US Stamp dedication to be broadcast live
over the InterNet's MBONE. Stamp collectors in 6 countries were
able to watch and listen in real time.
Army ENIAC Celebration -- 13&14 November 1996
Celebrating 50 Years of Army Computing
On November 13 and 14 at Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD,
the U. S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) and the Ordnance Center and
School (OC&S) sponsored a two-day anniversary celebration of 50 years
of Army computing. The program included presentations by Herman
Goldstine and Harry Huskey and reminiscences by other people involved,
as well as recognition of other "pioneers."
On the 14th, the Army and the Department of Defense (DoD) dedicated
the ARL High-Performance Computing Major Shared-Resource Center (MSRC),
part of the DoD High Performance Computing modernization (HPCM) program.
ENIAC, completed in the fall of 1945 and publicly unveiled in February
1946 at the University of Pennsylvania, was the first operational,
general-purpose, electronic digital computer. Pursued by the Army as a
means to speed up calculations required to produce firing tables, ENIAC
was first used to solve an important problem for the Manhattan Project.
In construction and use, ENIAC provided a platform for testing major
component concepts, and its success stimulated the development of other
machines, leading to the buildup of the modern computer industry and the
pervasive presence of computers in everyday life.
The ENIAC team developed plans for the next generation machine even
before completing ENIAC. In fact, engineers and scientists at the
Army's Ballistic Research Laboratory (BRL) helped develop a series of
machines -- the EDVAC, ORDVAC, BRLESC I, and BRLESC II.
BRL personnel continued to experiment with computer hardware, software,
and operations, for example, working with ARPA (Defense Advanced
Research Projects Agency) to expand the ARPANET, now the InterNet.
In the late 1980s, the lab dedicated two of the Army's first
supercomputers, a procurement managed by a man who first worked on
ARL, which includes elements of the former BRL, has been designated
an MSRC, one of four such centers in the DoD's HPCM program. These
tools will greatly enhance already extensive research capabilities in
such areas as simulation, virtual reality, and scientific visualization.
Links to Other Web Sites
UP to Mike's Home Page.
WAY UP to the Lab's Home Page.