The Computer from Pascal to von Neumann / Edition 1

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In 1942, Lt. Herman H. Goldstine, a former mathematics professor, was stationed at the Moore School of Electrical Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania. It was there that he assisted in the creation of the ENIAC, the first electronic digital computer. The ENIAC was operational in 1945, but plans for a new computer were already underway. The principal source of ideas for the new computer was John von Neumann, who became Goldstine's chief collaborator. Together they developed EDVAC, successor to ENIAC. After World War II, at the Institute for Advanced Study, they built what was to become the prototype of the present-day computer. Herman Goldstine writes as both historian and scientist in this first examination of the development of computing machinery, from the seventeenth century through the early 1950s. His personal involvement lends a special authenticity to his narrative, as he sprinkles anecdotes and stories liberally through his text.

A lively history of the computer from the 17th century to the breakthroughs of the 1950's.

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Editorial Reviews

The book is first-rate: it is written in a style that all can understand. . . .
Scientific American
Herman Goldstine is himself a pioneer of the computer. . . . [He] writes with disarming candor and good humor.
From the Publisher
Winner of the Award in Science, Phi Beta Kappa

"The book is first-rate: it is written in a style that all can understand. . . ."Nature

"Herman Goldstine is himself a pioneer of the computer. . . . [He] writes with disarming candor and good humor."Scientific American

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691023670
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/1980
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 365
  • Product dimensions: 6.12 (w) x 9.06 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface (1993)
Beginnings 3
Charles Babbage and His Analytical Engine 10
The Astronomical Ephemeris 27
The Universities: Maxwell and Boole 31
Integrators and Planimeters 39
Michelson, Fourier Coefficients, and the Gibbs Phenomenon 52
Boolean Algebra: x[superscript 2] = xx = x 60
Billings, Hollerith, and the Census 65
Ballistics and the Rise of the Great Mathematicians 72
Bush's Differential Analyzer and Other Analog Devices 84
Adaptation to Scientific Needs 106
Renascence and Triumph of Digital Means of Computation 115
Electronic Efforts prior to the ENIAC 123
The Ballistic Research Laboratory 127
Differences between Analog and Digital Machines 140
Beginnings of the ENIAC 148
The ENIAC as a Mathematical Instrument 157
John von Neumann and the Computer 167
Beyond the ENIAC 184
The Structure of the EDVAC 204
The Spread of Ideas 211
First Calculations on the ENIAC 225
Post-EDVAC Days 239
The Institute for Advanced Study Computer 252
Automata Theory and Logic Machines 271
Numerical Mathematics 286
Numerical Meteorology 300
Engineering Activities and Achievements 306
The Computer and UNESCO 321
The Early Industrial Scene 325
Programming Languages 333
Conclusions 342
Appendix: World-Wide Developments 349
Index 363
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