Odd book

Noel Chiappa jnc at mercury.lcs.mit.edu
Wed May 6 10:29:15 CDT 2020

So, I've come across an odd book that might interest some here: "Achieving
Accuray: A Legacy of Computers and Missiles", by Marshall William McMurray.

The first couple of chapters merely re-tell the story of earliest computers
(pre-elecronic and electronic), up through the IBM 701, Elliott 401, NCR 304,
SAGE, CDC 6600, IBM 7090, etc. Competent, but nothing special. Then it
gets interesting, though.

Chapter 4 is "Small Magnetic Drum Computers of the 1950s", and it covers a
bunch of machines I'd never heard of: JAINCOMP B-1 (!), MONROBOT III (!!),
CADAC 101, 102 (!!!) and on and on.

Chapter 5 is "Real-Time Control Computers", and it covers a long group of
machines: ALWAC I, II, III; Univac Athena; Autonetics Verdan D9A-L; Librascope
C-141 to name but a few. Pure gold, this chapter and the one before - retrieved
a lot of machines from the memory hole.

Chapter 6 is "NASA Control Computers", and it covers the usual suspects: IBM
ASC 15, IBM LVDC, IBM GDC, Librascope Centaur, AGC, IBM 4Pi. Some of these
are covered elseshere, but it's nice to have them all in one place.

Chapter 7 is "Late-Model High Speed Supercomputers", with quite a range:
starting with Cray 1, Sun, SGI, then the various ASCI array multi-processor
systems at LLNL, etc.

It then moved over to missiles, and goes through a similar progression,
starting early, with some details of WWII era stuff (e.g.Hs 293's), then a
chapter on V-1's amd V-2's and their derivatives.

More chapters on "Early US Missile Programs", NAA's inertialguidance work and
its applications up through Polaris, Titans, etc. Then more on later US
missiles and their guidance systems, such as Minuteman, Trident and MX.

A lengthy Chapter 13 is "Soviet and Russian Land-Based Missile Systems", which
doesn't have quite the detail of the US chapters (in which the authot was
personally involved), but is still novel. Another chapter then finishes with
Soiet/Russian naval missiles.

A very unusual and off-beat work.


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