Grandpa of Electronic Computers Built 125 Years Ago
TODAY’S GENIACs and MANIACs might be called babbages if an Englishman named Charles Babbage hadn’t had money problems.
Babbage, who lived in the mid-1800s, conceived of mechanical “brains” which would perform calculations ambitious even for today’s gigantic electronic computers (Fig. 1).
His Difference Engine (Fig. 2) was built between 1823 and 1842, when the British government withdrew its financial support. His Analytical Engine was still more ambitious but never amounted to more than 239 detailed drawings. It would have had a storage capacity of 1,000 50-digit numbers and built-in logarithms and other tables.
But againâ€”no money. Today, Babbage’s plans are kept in the Burndy Library, Norwalk, Conn.
A temperamental MRS computer doesn’t always follow instructionsâ€”and self-programs a surprise that only another computer could understand
By Hugh B. Brous, JR.
FIRST OFF, let me tell you that the MRS is no off-the-shelf commercial computer. MRS stands for Multipurpose Research System, and we designed and built the whole works ourselves at the Research Institute. Consequently, we can blame only ourselves for the design features that led to all the troubles. Everyone on the staff still feels that the basic concepts are sound but we unanimously agree that some changes will have to be made before MRS can be a dependable computer system.
MRS is a well-built hunk of hardware with just about everything a computerman could want. She’s got microprograming, built-in compiling routines, half a billion words of high-speed memory, a basic pulse rate of a micromicrosecond, and fantastically fast input-output scanners that work with a whole printed page at a time.
There are 64 complete electronic memory circuits on this chip of silicone (shown for size comparison on the nib of a pen). The circuits, which can transmit electronic signals in as little as 3-billionths of a second, are used in the buffer memory of IBM’s newest computer, System/360 Model 195.
new digital magnetic tape transport
the AMPEX FR200 for digital handling provides new performance standards, new convenience features and an unmatched excellence of design
NEW EASE OF TAPE CHANGE…
The time saving feature of single loop threading is provided by a lever which moves the idlers into a straight line. This arrangement eliminates chance of faulty threading by unskilled personnel.
At your fingertips…
the facts of business life
EVERYBODY is better off these days because the ever-mounting flood of business paper work is meeting its master in the incredible speed and accuracy of versatile office machines.
Thej go far bevond the limits of pen and pencil work to turn out invoked analytical jobs on an up-to-the-minute basisâ€”digging out the facts of business life.
Gauged To Perfection
Perfection of the finished product requires precise control in the manufacture of jet fuel. Such control is vital in the refining of oil, as it is in most industries. And, with the coming of age of automation, the controls must not only be precise â€”they must also be supervised automatically.
“These Theories on Automatic Feedback Control are Interesting…but…
When can I use them in my plant?”
The answer is: Plans can be started just as quickly as you can phone us or write us.
Here at Ultrasonic is a skilled staff already trained in diverse applications of automatic control â€”
. . . with many years of actual experience in using digital and analog feedback control on machine tools and process industry equipment.
If this issue of Scientific American stimulates your thinking … if it makes you want to get the benefits of an early start in this new field for your company . . . then, get in touch with us. Ultrasonic Corporation, 61 Rogers Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
CAMBRIDGE 42 MASS.
AUTOMATIC FEEDBACK CONTROL DEVELOPMENT, EVALUATION AND EQUIPMENT
Tomorrow’s Design Today…
Airplane design involves a staggering amount of data processingâ€”a seemingly endless number of computations and tests between the drawing board and the production line. Every hour…every day … every week gained here brings the time when the finished plane takes off on its first flight just that much closer. In the aircraft industry, as in many other engineering applications, the Remington Rand ERA 1103 Electronic Computing System has proven how easily it can handle the most difficult research problems. Here are some reasons why leading aircraft builders and other prominent users are counting on the ERA 1103 these days:
Because of its ability to reduce large volumes of data at extremely high speeds, the ERA 1103 is the ideal computing system for scientific applications. Its speed is matched by many other outstanding characteristics: superb operating efficiency, obtained through large storage capacity … great programming versatility… the ability to operate simultaneously with a wide variety of input-output devices … and far greater reliability than any computer in its class. For more information about the ERA 1103, or for information about how you might apply the system to your particular problems, write to …
ELECTRONIC COMPUTER DEPARTMENT, REMINGTON RAND
ROOM 1915, 315 FOURTH AVE., NEW YORK 10
Calculating Machine is built of Toy Parts
CONSTRUCTED entirely from the wheels, gears and structural members of a popular construction toy set, an amazing calculating machine at Manchester University, England can do in a few minutes problems which ordinarily would require many days of tedious work by mathematicians. The only other machine of its kind is at Boston, Mass. When experiments on this machine have been completed, Mr. A. Porter and Professor Hartree, its builders, propose to make a larger model, 27 feet long and 12 feet wide.
Sylvania & Univac
“Blueprint for Tomorrow”, “Office of the Future”â€”these are phrases used to describe Sylvania’s new Univac Data-Processing Center. For Sylvania is creating, with the Remington Rand Univac, a nerve center for its entire decentralized operations. It is utilizing Univac’s electronic speed and unrivalled accuracy to establish a priceless storehouse of up-to-the-minute management information. This will be available for rapid and truly enlightened management decisions at all levels, and at all locations.
Every alert executive should know the significance of this new step towards automation in business. To get the complete story of Sylvania and Univac, write for EL278, “Is This a Blueprint for Tomorrow’s Offices?” Room 1702, 315 Fourth Avenue, New York 10, N. Y.
Remington Rand Univac
Makers of: Univac I â€¢ Univac II â€¢ Univac Scientific â€¢ Univac File-Computer â€¢ Univac 60 â€¢ Univac 1.20 â€¢ Univac High-Speed Printer
DIVISION OF SPERRY RAND CORPORATION