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Issue No.04 - October-December (2004 vol.26)
pp: 4-18
Bernadette Longo , University of Minnesota
ABSTRACT
Edmund Berkeley established himself as an influential force in the early development of computer science. This article examines Berkeley?s work with symbolic logic and explores how this knowledge shaped his ideas about early electronic computers. It further explores how Berkeley applied symbolic logic and human reasoning to the design of relay computers, especially machines designed for the insurance industry.
INDEX TERMS
symbolic logic, human reasoning, Boolean algebra, insurance industry, Harvard University, U.S. Navy, Bell Laboratories, Univac
CITATION
Bernadette Longo, "Edmund Berkeley, Computers, and Modern Methods of Thinking", IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol.26, no. 4, pp. 4-18, October-December 2004, doi:10.1109/MAHC.2004.28
REFERENCES
1. R. Hofstadter, "From Progressivism to the New Deal," The Age of Reform: From Bryan to FDR, Alfred A. Knopf, 1955, pp. 300-325.
2. T.P. Jenkin, Reactions of Major Groups to Positive Government in the United States, Univ. of California Press, Berkeley, 1945.
3. G.D. Best, The Dollar Decade: Mammon and the Machine in 1920s America, Praeger, 2003.
4. V.H. Noll, The Habit of Scientific Thinking: A Handbook for Teachers, record unit 90-068, Science Service Collection, box 3, folder 47, Smithsonian Archives.
5. E.C. Berkeley, Symbolic Logic and Intelligent Machines, Reinhold, 1959.
6. E.C. Berkeley, "Modern Methods of Thinking," Edmund C. Berkeley Collection 50, box 79, folder 7, Charles Babbage Inst. (CBI).
7. E.C. Berkeley curriculum vitae, Edmund C. Berkeley Collection 50, box 48, folder 34, CBI.
8. E.C. Berkeley, "Boolean Algebra (The Technique for Manipulating "And," "Or," "Not," and Conditions) and Applications to Insurance," The Record of the Am. Inst. of Actuaries, vol. 26, Oct. 1937, pp. 373-414.
9. J. Yates, "Co-evolution of Information-Processing Technology and Use: Interaction between the Life Insurance and Tabulating Industries," Harvard Business Rev., vol. 67, Spring 1993, pp. 1-51.
10. E.C. May and W. Oursler, The Prudential: A Story of Human Security, Doubleday and Co., 1950.
11. B. E. Olmstead, "Prudential's Early Experience with Computers," Edmund C. Berkeley Collection 50, box 10, folder 3B, CBI.
12. J. Yates, Early Interactions between the Life Insurance and Computer Industries: The Prudential's Edmund Berkeley and The Society of Actuaries Committee, 1946— 1952; available at http://ccs.mit.edu/papersCCSWP196.html.
13. E.C. Berkeley, Giant Brains or Machines that Think, John Wiley & Sons, 1949.
14. A relay is a metal bar surrounded by a coil of wire through which an electric current can be run. In his book ( The Computer Pioneers: The Making of the Modern Computer, Simon and Schuster, 1986, p. 34), David Ritchie described how these relays used electromagnetism to control telephone circuits.
15. M.M. Waldrop, The Dream Machine: J.C.R. Licklider and the Revolution That Made Computing Personal, Viking, 2001.
16. D. Ritchie, The Computer Pioneers: The Making of the Modern Computer, Simon and Schuster, 1986.
17. Claude Shannon was also interested in relay switches and the binary number system in 1937, which was the topic of his master's thesis, A Symbolic Analysis of Relay Switching Circuits, under Vannevar Bush at MIT. Shannon realized that circuit states could correspond to possible combinations of assertions in symbolic logic, such as "and," "or," or "not." Shannon also reasoned that relay circuits could make comparisons and take alternate courses of action, as in if-then statements. Stibitz was not aware of Shannon's work in 1937 when he began applying relay and circuit technology to the problem of mechanized arithmetic calculation. Shannon's paper on this topic was published in 1938. In it he suggested that relay switches wired in circuits could handle Boolean logic and calculations.
18. These accounts of Prudential's activities during World War II can be found in W.H.A. Carr, From Three Cents a Week: The Story of The Prudential Insurance Company of America, Prentice-Hall, 1975; and in E.C. May and W. Oursler, The Prudential: A Story of Human Security,Doubleday, 1950.
19. The other reserve officers joining the staff with Berkeley were Lieutenant Harry Goheen, Lieutenant (jg) Brooks Lockhart, and Ensign Ruth Brendel. The staff also included Ensign Robert Campbell, Ensign Richard Bloch, Lieutenant Grace Hopper, Lieutenant Commander Hubert Arnold, four Specialists, First Class, to operate the machine and their supervisor, a Yeoman First Class to handle Navy administration, and a civilian secretary. Robert Hawkins, originally a machinist at Harvard, also followed the Mark I through its development at IBM and its subsequent operation at the Harvard Computation Lab. R. Campbell,"Aiken's First Machine: The IBM ASCC/Harvard Mark I," Makin' Numbers: Howard Aiken and the Computer," I.B. Cohen and G.W. Welch, eds., MIT Press, 1999, pp. 58-60. Additional staff was subsequently added to develop the Mark II.
20. In Makin' Numbers: Howard Aiken and the Computer, I. Bernard Cohen and Robert Campbell both recount the story of how this dedication led to a permanent rift between Aiken and IBM. IBM President Thomas Watson felt that the press release issued by Harvard University focused too much on Aiken and did not give IBM enough credit for its design work and generosity in building the machine, then donating it to Harvard. Although Watson participated in the dedication ceremony, he and Aiken exchanged harsh words, leading to bitter feelings that were never resolved. IBM continued to offer technical support for the Mark I, but Aiken built the Mark II without using any IBM components.
21. R. Campbell, "Aiken's First Machine," pp. 31-64.
22. W.H.A. Carr, From Three Cents a Week: The Story of the Prudential Insurance Company of America, Prentice-Hall, 1975.
23. E.C. Berkeley, "Scientific Research and Technological Developments— New Applications to Company Problems— Additional Personnel,"10 Oct. 1946, internal Prudential memorandum, Edmund C. Berkeley Collection 50, box 8, folder 52, CBI.
24. E.C. Berkeley, "New Applications of Scientific Technology to Company Problems,"18 Nov. 1946, internal Prudential memorandum, Edmund C. Berkeley Collection 50, box 8, folder 52, CBI.
25. E.C. Berkeley, "Design of Machinery for Reasoning and Computing,"18 Nov. 1946, memorandum, Edmund C. Berkeley Collection 50, box 8, folder 52, CBI.
26. E.C. Berkeley, "Symposium of Large Scale Digital Calculating Machinery at the Harvard Computation Laboratory, Cambridge, Massachusetts, January 7 to 10, 1947— Report,"18 Nov. 1946, internal Prudential memorandum, Edmund C. Berkeley Collection 50, box 8, folder 52, CBI.
27. W. Aspray, "Introduction," Proc. Symp. on Large-Scale Digital Calculating Machinery, MIT Press, 1948 (reprinted in 1985), pp. ix-xx.
28. Norbert Wiener withdrew from the speakers' list at the last moment in protest of the military sponsorship of the symposium. In his report to Volk et al. (see Ref. 25), Berkeley stated that Wiener "was to speak on 'The Problem of Gestalt.' At the last moment, he sent a telegram declining to participate. The ground he stated to the newspapers was that science was here being used toward destructive military purpose."
29. Although IBM was manufacturing computers at this time, the rift between Aiken and Thomas Watson at IBM, initiated at the dedication of the Mark I in 1944, continued to exert its influence. No IBM speakers were on the symposium's program, but nine scientists and engineers from IBM attended the event (see Ref. 26).
30. E.C. Berkeley, "Report on Professor Sam Caldwell's Visit to Prudential on February 3, 1947,"6 Feb. 1947, internal Prudential memorandum, Edmund C. Berkeley Collection 50, Box 8, Folder 53, CBI.
31. S.H. Caldwell, "Publication, Classification, and Patents," Proc. Symp. Large-Scale Digital Calculating Machinery, MIT Press, 1948 (reprinted in 1985), pp. 277-283.
32. D.A. Grier, "The Rise and Fall of the Committee on Mathematical Tables and Other Aids to Computation," IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 23, no. 2, April— June 2001, pp. 38-49.
33. E.C. Berkeley, "Construction of the First Electronic Sequence Controlled Calculators for the Life Insurance Business with Aid from the National Bureau of Standards,"22 Feb. 1947, internal Prudential memorandum, Edmund C. Berkeley Collection 50, box 8, folder 53, CBI.
34. E. Berkeley discussion of paper presented by G. Stibitz, "The Organization of Large-Scale Calculating Machinery," Proc. Symp. Large-Scale Digital Calculating Machinery, MIT Press, 1948 (reprinted in 1985), pp. 91-100.
35. M. Campbell-Kelly and W. Aspray, Computer: A History of the Information Machine, Basic Books, 1996.
36. E.C. Berkeley, "Electronic Information Machinery— Second Report from Electronic Control Company— Recommendations,"24 May 1947, internal Prudential memorandum, Edmund C. Berkeley Collection 50, box 8, folder 55, CBI.
37. E.C. Berkeley, "Suppliers of Electronic Machinery— Comparison,"28 July 1947, internal Prudential memorandum, Edmund C. Berkeley Collection 50, box 10, folder 5, CBI.
38. E.C. Berkeley, "Electronic Machine— Expected Recommendation— Report No. 1,"11 Jan. 1948, internal Prudential memorandum, Edmund C. Berkeley Collection 50, box 4, folder 5, CBI.
39. E.C. Berkeley, "Premium Billing and the Electronic Machine— Current Status,"21 Mar. 1948, internal Prudential memorandum, Edmund C. Berkeley Collection 50, box 4, folder 6, CBI.
40. H.W. Schrimpf, "Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation— Growth, Contracts, Prospective Orders,"19 Mar. 1948, internal Prudential memorandum, Edmund C. Berkeley Collection 50, box 4, folder 6, CBI.
41. E.C. Berkeley, "Talk with Mr. John W. Mauchly and Mr. Gene Clute on March 26, 1948,"28 Mar. 1948, internal Prudential memorandum, Edmund C. Berkeley Collection 50, box 4, folder 6, CBI.
42. Other accounts put this price tag at $150,000. See Campbell-Kelly and Aspray's account on page 120 of Computer: A History of the Information Machine, for example.
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