Classic Computer Magazine Archive CREATIVE COMPUTING VOL. 9, NO. 8 / AUGUST 1983 / PAGE 246

The origins of digital computers: selected papers. (book reviews) Steve Gray.

The Origins of Digital Computers: Selected Papers

Part of the series, "Texts and Monographs in Computer Science,' this book has been expanded since it was first published in 1974, both in text and annotated bibliography; the latter now consists of over 850 items.

The book starts with the Analytical Engine that Charles Babbage started to design in 1834, and ends with two papers presented at the inauguration of EDSAC in 1949. "The aim has been to cover each significant milestone on the route from Babbage to EDSAC,' according to the preface.

After an introductory chapter, the 34 papers are divided, by type of machine, designer or manufacturer, inso seven more chapters: Analytical Engines (mostly Babbage), Tabulating Machines (mostly Hollerith), Zuse and Schreyer, Aiken and IBM (ASCC, CPEC), Bell Telephone Laboratories (relay machines), The Advent of Electronic Computers (ENIAC, plus papers by Atanasoff, Bush, Rajchman, Mauchly, and others), and Stored Program Electronic Computers (EDVAC and EDSAC).

Other familiar names appear as authors of these papers, including Hopper, Eckert, Alt, Goldstine, von Neumann, Williams, and, Wilkes. Some are not familiar, and a few represent pioneers whose work has been almost forgotten--or are almost unknown in this country--such as Couffignal, Dreyer, and Phillips.

When possible, the original papers have been used, such as Ludgate's 1909 paper on the Babbage machine, the two papers by Aiken with many photographs and drawings (from IEEE publications), the Goldstine paper on ENIAC, et al.

The book "is intended for readers, such as computer science students or people employed in the computer field, who are interested in the history of their subject, and particulaly in the technical details of the precursors of the modern electronic computer,' according to the preface to the second edition. The third edition is highly recommended to all such readers as the best book available on computer history, containing a great wealth of detailed papers, collected with diligence and edited with great care.

Review Grade: A