Automatic Computing Engine of the National Physical Laboratory. Offprint from Nature.
Publisher Information: 1951.
Woodger, Michael (1923- ). Automatic Computing Engine of the National Physical Laboratory. Offprint from Nature 167 (1951). pp. 211 x 140 mm. Without wrappers; in later paper sleeve with printed label. Slight creasing, a few tiny marginal tears but very good.
First Edition, Offprint Issue of the first published description of the completed Pilot ACE computer. The National Physical Laboratory’s ACE (Automatic Computing Engine) was designed by Alan Turing, who began working on the project a few months before he joined the NPL’s mathematics division on October 1, 1945. Construction of the ACE began with a “test assembly” to try out Turing’s ideas of computer design. Although Turing’s design was workable, the effect of the Official Secrets Act surrounding the wartime work at Bletchley Park made it impossible for Turing to explain the basis of his analysis of how a computer installation involving human operators would work. This led to delays in starting the project, and Turing became disillusioned, leaving the NPL in September 1947 to take a sabbatical year at Cambridge University.
After Turing’s departure from the NPL, the ACE project was taken over by his assistants, James H. Wilkinson and Michael Woodger. In early 1949 the original ACE test assembly was abandoned and a new version, redesigned to make the electronics as simple as possible, began construction in early 1949. This machine, completed in 1950, came to be known as the “Pilot ACE.” The Pilot ACE, although intended as a prototype, was immediately pressed into service, as it was then the only computer in a British government department. It remained in operation until 1956, undergoing several modifications during its lifetime.
“The pilot model of the automatic computing machine (A.C.E.), recently demonstrated at the National Physical Laboratory, is a general-purpose automatic electronic digital computer employing mercury-tube ultrasonic delay lines for the storage of numerical data and instruction sequences, and using a modified Hollerith reproducing-punch for the input and output of these data on punched cards. Calculation proceeds in the binary scale . . .” (p. ). Woodger’s report includes a description of five test computations run on the ACE. Not in Origins of Cyberspace.Book Id: 50673