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Automatic High-Speed Computing: A Progress Report on the EDVAC. Report of work under contract no. W-670-ORD-4926 supplement no. 4 between Ordnance Department, U.S. Army and University of Pennsylvania, Moore School of Electrical Engieering.Pensylvania: Moore School of Electrical Engineering, September 30, 1945. First edition, first issue.
The extremely rare first technical report on the EDVAC - the first general-purpose electronic digital stored-program computer to be designed. This classified report was issued in just 50 numbered copies and is much rarer than Von Neumann's nontechnical June-report, i.e., First Draft of a Report of the EDVAC which was not classified and distributed widely and "contained little engineering detail, in particular concerning electronics" (Copeland, The Essential Turing). We know of no other copy of this report having appeared on the market and can locate just three copies worldwide: Smithsonian, Penn, and UCLA.

"The modem electronic computer had its origins in the work of J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly and their colleagues at the Moore School of Electrical Engineering of the University of Pennsylvania in the years between 1942 and 1946... During those years the group at the Moore School designed and built the ENIAC, the first large scale general purpose electronic computer. Also during those years their design of the EDVAC introduced the revolutionary idea of the modem stored program electronic computer.

"In early 1944, after the design phase of the ENIAC was complete, some members of the group at the Moore School started to work on the design of a successor machine which came to be known as the EDVAC (Electronic Discrete Variable Computer). The principal shortcomings of the ENIAC were recognized to be inadequate storage and the difficulty of settting up new problems, i.e. the difficulty of programming. On January 29, 1944 Eckert wrote a 'preliminary disclosure' in which he described a magnetic disk calculating machine in which instructions as well as data would be stored on the disk (By mid 1944 Eckert had designed a mercury delay line memory that was much faster than the proposed disk storage.).

And "much progress had already been made toward the invention of a stored program computer based on the mercury delay line memory by the time that John von Neumann joined the Moore School group as a consultant.

"First Draft of a Report on the EDVAC written by John von Neumann, and dated June 30, 1945. This 118 page mimeographed document was not treated as a classified document. It was fairly widely distributed, and soon made the basic concepts of the stored program computer known in scientific circles... The architecture of modern computers is frequently referred to as the von Neumann architecture, based on his authorship of the First Draft. It might be more appropriate to call it the Eckert, Mauchly, von Neumann architecture, since the First Draft was a report based on discussions that took place at the meetings of the Moore School group for which von Neumann served as a consultant, and some of the major ideas about the stored program computer had been developed at the Moore School before von Neumann heard of the computer activity there. Friends of von Neumann have stated that in conversations with them he always agreed that the First Draft was a summary of the work of the EDVAC design group, and that a more formal publication of these ideas would have included Eckert and possibly Mauchly along with von Neumann as authors.

"There exists a very interesting document entitled Automatic High Speed Computing: A Progress Report on the EDVAC. This progress report was submitted to Army Ordnance by Eckert and Mauchly, and is dated September 30, 1945 [the offered item]. It is a logical successor to the First Draft, and might have had as great an impact, except for the fact that it was Confidential, and there was no distribution outside of Army Ordnance at the time. The Progress Report is 111 pages long, and is a clear and detailed discussion of the thinking about electronic digital computers in mid 1945. It is unfortunate that it was not published and distributed at the time. I have recently suggested that it should be published in the Annals of the History of Computing, and I hope that it will become available there." (Saul Rosen, The Origins of Modern Computing, 1990).. 118 leaves (279 x 216 mm), mimeographed typescript, printed on recots only, each page stamped twice in red 'CONFIDENTIAL', ll. [1: blank], [v], [1], 2-111 [1:blank]. Stappled in oirginal grey printed wrappers with black cloth spine strip (cloth with some wear and tears). Copy no. 41 of 50

      [Bookseller: Sophia Rare Books]
Last Found On: 2013-09-20           Check availability:      Antikvariat    


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