Computing Pioneer Dies

Evan Koblentz cctalk at
Fri Nov 10 14:37:18 CST 2017

>> I should point out there is a technical error in the Guardian. The Baby was the first Electronically Stored Program in what today we would call RAM. ENIAC had been configured in stored program mode earlier in the year and had run a program stored in the function switches, e.g. ROM a couple of months before baby. Despite the fact that when running stored programs ENIAC's parallel processing features were not available, it was exclusively in this mode from 1948 onwards. Note both machines are theoretically "Turing Complete" but having only 32 words of 32 bits the Baby was not of any practical use for a further 18 months whilst major surgery was carried out to add extra store and instructions to the machine leading the emergence of the Manchester MK1.
> Funny, I didn't see a "technical error" in the article.
> The best that can be said for your position is that you (and the ENIAC/Mauchlyite crowd) have a particular opinion and definition regarding 'stored-program computer'.

Dave is correct.

Perhaps he should have said "over simplification" rather than technical 

But what he wrote is well-documented. Tom Haigh and team of researchers 
explained the origins and varying definitions of "stored program" in 
their paper which you can freely read at 
Tom, I'll point out, is British.

Thanks to their research, there is no longer any gray area. ENIAC stored 
a program in what's now known as ROM, and very soon after the Baby 
stored a program in what's now known as RAM. The timeline and facts are 
very clear.

As I mentioned to Dave privately, this epitomizes why I wish people 
would discuss computer history in terms of "generations" not "firsts".

I banned the "F" word in the VCFed museum. :)

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