The SWAC (Standards Western Automatic Computer) was an early electronic digital computer built in 1950 by the U.S. National Bureau of Standards (NBS) in Los Angeles, California. It was designed by Harry Huskey. [ self-published source ] Like the SEAC which was built about the same time, the SWAC was a small-scale interim computer designed to be built quickly and put into operation while the NBS waited for more powerful computers to be completed (in particular, the RAYDAC by Raytheon).
A computer is a device that can be instructed to carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically via computer programming. Modern computers have the ability to follow generalized sets of operations, called programs. These programs enable computers to perform an extremely wide range of tasks. A "complete" computer including the hardware, the operating system, and peripheral equipment required and used for "full" operation can be referred to as a computer system. This term may as well be used for a group of computers that are connected and work together, in particular a computer network or computer cluster.
The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 18 megadiverse countries.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is a physical sciences laboratory, and a non-regulatory agency of the United States Department of Commerce. Its mission is to promote innovation and industrial competitiveness. NIST's activities are organized into laboratory programs that include nanoscale science and technology, engineering, information technology, neutron research, material measurement, and physical measurement.
The machine used 2,300 vacuum tubes. It had 256 words of memory, using Williams tubes, with each word being 37 bits. It had only seven basic operations: add, subtract, and multiply (single precision and double precision versions); comparison, data extraction, input and output. Several years later drum memory was added.
In electronics, a vacuum tube, an electron tube, or valve or, colloquially, a tube, is a device that controls electric current flow in a high vacuum between electrodes to which an electric potential difference has been applied.
The Williams tube, or the Williams–Kilburn tube after inventors Freddie Williams and Tom Kilburn, is an early form of computer memory. It was the first random-access digital storage device, and was used successfully in several early computers.
The bit is a basic unit of information used in computing and digital communications. A binary digit can only have one of two values, and may be physically represented with a two-state device. These state values are most commonly represented as either a 0or1.
When the SWAC was completed in August 1950,it was the fastest computer in the world. It continued to hold that status until the IAS computer was completed a year later. It could add two numbers and store the result in 64 microseconds. A similar multiplication took 384 microseconds. It was used by the NBS until 1954 when the Los Angeles office was closed, and then by UCLA until 1967 (with modifications). It was charged out there for $40 per hour.
The IAS machine was the first electronic computer to be built at the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) in Princeton, New Jersey. It is sometimes called the von Neumann machine, since the paper describing its design was edited by John von Neumann, a mathematics professor at both Princeton University and IAS. The computer was built from late 1945 until 1951 under his direction. The general organization is called Von Neumann architecture, even though it was both conceived and implemented by others. The computer is in the collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History but is not currently on display.
The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) is a public research university in Los Angeles. It became the Southern Branch of the University of California in 1919, making it the second-oldest undergraduate campus of the 10-campus University of California system. It offers 337 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in a wide range of disciplines. UCLA enrolls about 31,000 undergraduate and 13,000 graduate students and had 119,000 applicants for Fall 2016, including transfer applicants, the most applicants for any American university.
In January 1952, Raphael M. Robinson used the SWAC to discover five Mersenne primes—the largest prime numbers known at the time, with 157, 183,386, 664 and 687 digits.
Raphael Mitchel Robinson was an American mathematician.
In mathematics, a Mersenne prime is a prime number that is one less than a power of two. That is, it is a prime number of the form Mn = 2n − 1 for some integer n. They are named after Marin Mersenne, a French Minim friar, who studied them in the early 17th century.
The largest known prime number is 282,589,933 − 1, a number with 24,862,048 digits. It was found by Patrick Laroche of the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search (GIMPS) in 2018.
Additionally, the SWAC was vital in doing the intense calculation required for the X-ray analysis of the structure of vitamin B12 done by Dorothy Hodgkin.This was fundamental in Hodgkin receiving the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1964.
Vitamin B12, also called cobalamin, is a water-soluble vitamin that is involved in the metabolism of every cell of the human body: it is a cofactor in DNA synthesis, and in both fatty acid and amino acid metabolism. It is particularly important in the normal functioning of the nervous system via its role in the synthesis of myelin, and in the maturation of developing red blood cells in the bone marrow.
Dorothy Mary Crowfoot Hodgkin was a British chemist who developed protein crystallography, for which she won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1964.
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry is awarded annually by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences to scientists in the various fields of chemistry. It is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Alfred Nobel in 1895, awarded for outstanding contributions in chemistry, physics, literature, peace, and physiology or medicine. This award is administered by the Nobel Foundation, and awarded by Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences on proposal of the Nobel Committee for Chemistry which consists of five members elected by Academy. The award is presented in Stockholm at an annual ceremony on December 10, the anniversary of Nobel's death.
EDVAC was one of the earliest electronic computers. Unlike its predecessor the ENIAC, it was binary rather than decimal, and was designed to be a stored-program computer.
BINAC was an early electronic computer designed for Northrop Aircraft Company by the Eckert–Mauchly Computer Corporation (EMCC) in 1949. Eckert and Mauchly, though they had started the design of EDVAC at the University of Pennsylvania, chose to leave and start EMCC, the first computer company. BINAC was their first product, the first stored-program computer in the United States; the BINAC is also sometimes wrongly claimed to be the world's first commercial digital computer even though it was very limited in scope, never fully functional and always economically unviable.
The UNIVAC I was the first commercial computer produced in the United States. It was designed principally by J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly, the inventors of the ENIAC. Design work was started by their company, Eckert–Mauchly Computer Corporation (EMCC), and was completed after the company had been acquired by Remington Rand. In the years before successor models of the UNIVAC I appeared, the machine was simply known as "the UNIVAC".
BARK was an early electromechanical computer. BARK was built using standard telephone relays, implementing a 32-bit binary machine. It could perform addition in 150 ms and multiplication in 250 ms. It had a memory with 50 registers and 100 constants. It was later expanded to double the memory. Howard Aiken stated in reference to BARK "This is the first computer I have seen outside Harvard that actually works."
The ERA 1101, later renamed UNIVAC 1101, was a computer system designed and built by Engineering Research Associates (ERA) in the early 1950s and continued to be sold by the Remington Rand corporation after that company later purchased ERA. Its (initial) military model, the ERA Atlas, was the first stored-program computer that was moved from its site of manufacture and successfully installed at a distant site. Remington Rand used the 1101's architecture as the basis for a series of machines into the 1960s.
The UNIVAC LARC, short for the Livermore Advanced Research Computer, is a mainframe computer designed to a requirement published by Edward Teller in order to run hydrodynamic simulations for nuclear weapon design. It was one of the earliest supercomputers.
The Pilot ACE was one of the first computers built in the United Kingdom at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) in the early 1950s. It was also one of the earliest stored-program computers, joining other UK designs like the Manchester Mark 1 and EDSAC of the same era. The design is one of the earliest general computers designed by Alan Turing, although he left NPL before it was completed.
The Z4 was the world's first commercial digital computer, designed by German engineer Konrad Zuse and built by his company Zuse Apparatebau in 1945. The Z4 was Zuse's final target for the Z3 design, but like Z2 it was partly mechanical (memory) and electromechanical machine.
Abramowitz and Stegun (AS) is the informal name of a mathematical reference work edited by Milton Abramowitz and Irene Stegun of the United States National Bureau of Standards (NBS), now the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Its full title is Handbook of Mathematical Functions with Formulas, Graphs, and Mathematical Tables. A digital successor to the Handbook was released as the "Digital Library of Mathematical Functions" (DLMF) on May 11, 2010, along with a printed version, the NIST Handbook of Mathematical Functions, published by Cambridge University Press.
SEAC was a first-generation electronic computer, built in 1950 by the U.S. National Bureau of Standards (NBS) and was initially called the National Bureau of Standards Interim Computer, because it was a small-scale computer designed to be built quickly and put into operation while the NBS waited for more powerful computers to be completed. The team that developed SEAC was organized by Samuel N. Alexander. SEAC was demonstrated in April 1950 and was dedicated on June 1950; it is claimed to be the first fully operational stored-program electronic computer in the US.
The Eckert–Mauchly Computer Corporation (EMCC) was founded by J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly. It was incorporated on December 22, 1947. After building the ENIAC at the University of Pennsylvania, Eckert and Mauchly formed EMCC to build new computer designs for commercial and military applications. The company was initially called the Electronic Control Company, changing its name to Eckert–Mauchly Computer Corporation when it was incorporated. In 1950, the company was sold to Remington Rand, which later merged with Sperry Corporation to become Sperry Rand, and survives today as Unisys.
The Charles Babbage Institute is a research center at the University of Minnesota specializing in the history of information technology, particularly the history of digital computing, programming/software, and computer networking since 1935. The institute is named for Charles Babbage, the nineteenth-century English inventor of the programmable computer. The Institute is located in Elmer L. Andersen Library at the University of Minnesota Libraries in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
UTEC was a computer built at the University of Toronto (UofT) in the early 1950s. It was one of the first working computers in the world, although only built in a prototype form while awaiting funding for expansion into a full-scale version. This funding was eventually used to purchase a surplus Manchester Mark 1 from Ferranti in the UK instead, and UTEC quickly disappeared. The name was an acronym for University of Toronto Electronic Computer.
Harry Douglas Huskey was an American computer design pioneer.
George Elmer Forsythe was the founder and head of Stanford University's Computer Science Department. George came to Stanford in the Mathematics Department in 1959, and served as professor and chairman of the Computer Science department from 1965 until his death. Forsythe served as the president of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), and also co-authored four books on computer science and a fifth on meteorology, and edited more than 75 other books on computer science.
Russell A. Kirsch is an American former engineer at the National Bureau of Standards who developed the first digital image scanner.
Margaret R. Fox (1916-2006) was an American electronics engineer and computer scientist. She was the Chief of the Office of Computer Information, part of the Institute for Computer Science and Technology of the National Bureau of Standards from 1966 to 1975 and was the first secretary of the American Federation of Information Processing Societies.
Samuel Nathan Alexander was an American computer pioneer who developed SEAC, one of the earliest computers.
Marvin Stein (1924-2015) was a mathematician and computer scientist, and the "father of computer science" at the University of Minnesota.
IEEE Computer Society is a professional society of IEEE. Its purpose and scope is "to advance the theory, practice, and application of computer and information processing science and technology" and the "professional standing of its members." The CS is the largest of 39 technical societies organized under the IEEE Technical Activities Board.
In computing, a Digital Object Identifier orDOI is a persistent identifier or handle used to uniquely identify objects, standardized by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). An implementation of the Handle System, DOIs are in wide use mainly to identify academic, professional, and government information, such as journal articles, research reports and data sets, and official publications though they also have been used to identify other types of information resources, such as commercial videos.
An International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) is an eight-digit serial number used to uniquely identify a serial publication. The ISSN is especially helpful in distinguishing between serials with the same title. ISSN are used in ordering, cataloging, interlibrary loans, and other practices in connection with serial literature.
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