imitation game movie

Noel Chiappa jnc at
Wed Feb 11 06:51:04 CST 2015

    > From: Chuck Guzis

    > The point is that a lot of people were responsible for the development
    > of mechanical computation (I include electrical and electronic in this
    > definition).

Just like the Internet... :-)

    > In fact, it could be argued that the ball-and-disc integrator was more
    > responsible for the eventual Allied victory in WWII than Turing's work
    > was.

Sorry, are you referring to his work on computers, or his work in code-breaking
too? If this latter, I would have to disagree. 

Respected military historians have suggested (of course, such alternative
history is always speculative, one can't prove it) that the code-breaking work
of the Allies shortened WWII by up to two years. I doubt mechanical
fire-control computers (which is the primary military use of ball-and-disc
integrators, as I understand it) had that significant an effect.

    > From: Johnny Billquist

    > And once more noone mentions Konrad Zuse, which in my mind beat them
    > all

Well, two things. (And don't get me wrong, I admire Zuse and his work.)

First, Zuse's work didn't really have much impact. You may disagree, but my
sense is that if that bomb that destroyed the Z1 had gotten him too, the
post-WWII world would still look pretty much like the real one.

Second, his early machines (Z1-Z3) weren't stored-program (in the sense of
'one memory holds both instructions and data'). Yes, yes, I know the Z3 can
(with a monstrous kludge) be Turing-complete, but it still wasn't
stored-program - which to my mind, is _the_ key aspect of a real 'computer'.

Interestingly enough, Babbage's machines weren't stored-program either; they
had separate instruction and data tapes, like Zuse's (although they had
conditional branching, which the Z1-Z3 didn't). Turing's invention of thex
stored-program in 'On Computable Numbers' was really a fundamental leap.


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