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Recollections of the Philco Transac S-2000
April-June 2004 (vol. 26 no. 2)
pp. 34-47
Saul Rosen, (Deceased 9 June 1991)
In 1954, engineers at Philco Corporation invented the surface barrier transistor, the first transistor suitable for use in high-speed computers. Philco set up a computer activity—eventually a computer division—and in 1957 introduced the Philco Transac S-2000, the first large-scale, transistorized scientific computer system offered as a product by a computer manufacturer. In the spring of 1958, I was hired by Philco to organize a programming systems department to provide software support for the new computer system. This article presents part of the history of the Philco computer effort from one participant's point of view. Despite a number of successful installations, the Philco computer division lacked adequate resources to remain competitive in an area dominated by IBM, and Philco withdrew from the general-purpose computer field in 1965.

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1. R.J. Segal, J.L. Maddox, and P. Plano, "Performance Advances in a Transistorized Computer System: The Transac S-2000," Proc. Eastern Joint Computer Conf., 1958, pp. 168-174.
2. Address modification during the running of a program was used extensively in those early days, and for that reason I felt that the address should have been put at the end of the instruction word and the command at the beginning. I was told that the decision to place the command in the last 8 bits had to do with convenience of engineering layout, and no one had thought it would make any difference for programming. It was only much later that I realized that this and other design decisions, including the 2's complement representation of numbers, followed the design of the IAS machine.
3. S. Rosen, "Datacode: A Compiler for the Datatron 205," ElectroData Division, Burroughs, 1957.
4. S. Rosen, J.H. Brown, and C. Calo, "TAC: The Transac Assembler-Compiler," preprints of papers presented at the 14th National Meeting of the ACM, 1959.
5. S. Rosen and I.B. Goldberg, "Altac: The Transac Algebraic Translator," preprints of papers presented at the 14th National Meeting of the ACM, 1959.
6. S. Rosen, "Altac, FORTRAN, and Compatibility," preprints of papers presented at the 16th National Meeting of the ACM, 1961.
7. D.E. Lundstrom, A Few Good Men from Univac, MIT Press, 1987.
8. H.S. Bright, "A Philco Multiprocessing System," Am. Federation of Information Processing Societies (AFIPS) Conf. Proc., Fall Joint Computer Conf., vol. 26, Part II, 1964, pp. 97-141.

Citation:
Saul Rosen, "Recollections of the Philco Transac S-2000," IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 26, no. 2, pp. 34-47, April-June 2004, doi:10.1109/MAHC.2004.1299658
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