From Whirlwind to MITRE: The R&D Story of The SAGE Air Defense Computer

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More About This Textbook

Overview

This book presents an organizational and social history of one of the foundational projects of the computer era: the development of the SAGE (Semi-Automatic Ground Environment) air defense system, from its first test at Bedford, Massachusetts, in 1951, to the installation of the first unit of the New York Air Defense Sector of the SAGE system, in 1958. The idea for SAGE grew out of Project Whirlwind, a wartime computer development effort, when the U.S. Department of Defense realized that the Whirlwind computer might anchor a continent-wide advance warning system. Developed by MIT engineers and scientists for the U.S. Air Force, SAGE monitored North American skies for possible attack by manned aircraft and missiles for twenty-five years.Aside from its strategic importance, SAGE set the foundation for mass data-processing systems and foreshadowed many computer developments of the 1960s. The heart of the system, the AN/FSQ-7, was the first computer to have an internal memory composed of "magnetic cores," thousands of tiny ferrite rings that served as reversible electromagnets. SAGE also introduced computer-driven displays, online terminals, time sharing, high-reliability computation, digital signal processing, digital transmission over telephone lines, digital track-while-scan, digital simulation, computer networking, and duplex computing.The book shows how the wartime alliance of engineers, scientists, and the military exemplified by MIT's Radiation Lab helped to transform research and development practice in theUnited States through the end of the Cold War period.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780262182010
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Publication date: 10/10/2000
  • Series: History of Computing
  • Pages: 547
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
1 "It Worked!"
2 The Beginning of the Beginning
3 ADSEC
4 Valley's Discovery
5 Managerial Misgivings vs. Technical Accomplishments
6 The Problem of "Internal Storage"
7 Project Whirlwind's Perspectives in Computer R&D and Air
Traffic Control
8 Do It Right, Cut It Off, or Temporize?
9 The Bedford Tests
10 Project Charles
11 Linclon Laboratory
12 Organizing the Tasks That Faced Division
13 Planning the Air Defense Computer
14 The Memory Test Computer
15 IBM and the Air Defense Challenge
16 Collaborating on the XD-1
17 Bringing IBM up to Speed
18 Tight Schedules, Slippage, and Project Grind
19 Adjustments and Triumphs
20 Slippage, the XD-1, and the XD-2
21 Technical Memorandum 20: The Pattern for the Future System
22 The Air Force Decides
23 National Policy Decisions
24 Implementing TM20: "Who's in Charge?"
25 The 1953 Cape Cod System
26 Further R&D Planning and the 1954 Cape Cod System
27 Problems with Manpower, Computer Programs, and Intercept
Testing
28 Designing Progress and Administrative Reorganizing
29 Checking Out the ESS
30 The Problem: Weapons Integration and Systems Engineering
31 The Solution: MITRE
32 Epilogue
Notes
Bibliography
Index
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