Publisher Information: 1952.
Eckert, John Presper (1919-95). Comparison and evaluation of digital computer memory systems. Typescript document. , 8 ff. 280 x 217 mm. N.p., n.d. [March 12, 1952]. Original spiral-bound boards, a little rubbed, title and author’s name hand-lettered on front cover. Manuscript note in Eckert’s hand laid in, reading “Original copy – (3 carbons). Speech by J. P. Eckert as presented on 12 Mar 52.”
Eckert, together with his partner John Mauchly, invented and constructed the first general-purpose digital computer (the ENIAC) during World War II. After the war he and Mauchly founded the first commercial computer company in the United States (the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation) and designed the UNIVAC, the first commercially sold electronic computer in the United States.
The present typed speech, formerly part of an archive of papers collected by Eckert over his lifetime, is probably the first to document Eckert’s focus on computer memory—his primary research interest. The speech includes a historical survey of early digital computer memory systems, including that developed by computer pioneer John Atanasoff for his special-purpose ABC computer, which Eckert described as “probably the first example of what might generally be termed regenerative memory” [f. 7]). Eckert also discussed several types of then-current memory systems such as delay-line, electrostatic, magnetic drum, ferro-magnetic core, and ferro-electric cell. Eckert later adapted some of this speech into his 1953 paper, “A survey of digital computer memory systems.”
The existence of Atanasoff’s ABC computer—developed in Iowa before World War II, but never properly operational—would eventually become one of the crucial pieces of evidence invalidating Eckert and Mauchly’s ENIAC patent. In this relatively early paper Eckert acknowledged his familiarity with Atanasoff’s efforts; later, when embroiled in the ENIAC patent disputes, he would deny that Atanasoff’s work had any influence on his own. Origins of Cyberspace 1183.Book Id: 42739