imitation game movie

Jon Elson elson at
Tue Feb 10 21:52:08 CST 2015

On 02/10/2015 11:42 AM, Chuck Guzis wrote:
> On 02/10/2015 09:23 AM, Jon Elson wrote:
>> misconceptions and misinformation out there.
>> OK, my only comment to that is the stuff that says 
>> "Turing was THE
>> father of the computer, period, full stop."
>> Note the singular.
>> What about Charles Babbage and (Augusta) Ada Byron?  How 
>> can you leave
>> them out?
> How about John Antansaoff?  From Wikip, to refresh your 
> memory:
Atanasoff and Berry did a GREAT job, but it wasn't actually 
a "computer" by
the Turing definition.  It took instructions from cards and 
executed them as
they were read on the card reader.  I think it may have had 
some ability
to suppress instructions on some condition, but couldn't 
actually do a branch.
Then, after completing the calculation the built it for, the 
university junked it and
all that was left were some drawings in a few binders.  They 
published NOTHING
about the machine itself, and it was largely unknown for 

They probably could have advanced some areas of computing if 
they had
published the technical details of their machine.  It was 
pretty obvious that
if they had actually needed a stored program computer with 
ability, they were sharp enough they could have built such a 
machine, but they
just didn't need it for the class of equations they were 

So, as far as I'm concerned, Atanasoff and Berry are a VERY 
interesting footnote
in early computing, but didn't actually contribute directly 
to the development
of computers.  Atanasoff sure upset some people when he 
testified in
the Honeywell vs. Sperry Rand suit.

Now, my freshman adviser at Washington University was 
William Papian,
the grad student who worked with Jay Forrester on coincident 
core memory!  Wow, talk about something that REALLY affected the
development of computers!


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