The Autumn Garden dramaturgy: 1949 technology

Table of Contents


Computers were developed during the early forties. The digital computer, named ENIAC, weighing 30 tons and standing two stories high, was completed in 1945. The Binary Automatic Computer (BINAC) introduced by J. Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchly of 1946 ENIAC fame stores information on magnetic tape rather than on punched cards. The two established a manufacturing company last year and will sell their Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corp. next year to Remington Rand. By 1966 Eckert will have received 85 patents, most of them for electronic inventions.

Nebraska-born MIT electrical engineer Jay W. (Wright) Forrester, 31, devises a memory system that replaces electrostatic tubes and stores information in three dimensions. His random-access magnetic cell will prove far superior to the slow, unreliable storage systems that have retarded development of computers (see Manchester Mark I, 1948) Forrester and Kenneth Olsen will assemble the first real-time computer in 1951 and call it the Whirlwind.

ORDVAC and ILLIAC I, computers using von Neumann architecture as outlined in unpublished works by John von Neumann of 1945 and 1946, are built by the U.S. army at its Aberdeen Proving Ground and by the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, respectively.

EDSAC (Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator) at Cambridge University goes into operation; one of the first stored-program computers to operate, it contains only 3000 vacuum tubes but is six times faster than previous machines. Data are stored in mercury delay lines.

John Mauchly and John Presper Eckert build the BINAC (Binary Automatic Computer). It is the first electronic stored-program computer in the United States, storing data on magnetic tape. BINAC goes into operation in August.


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