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Issue No.01 - January-March (2007 vol.29)
pp: 74-80
C. Stewart Gillmor , Wesleyan University
In 1959, two Stanford undergraduate electrical engineering students enrolled in Math 139, Theory and Operation of Computing Machines, and as a final class project, devised the "Happy Families Planning Service." They used the IBM model 650 computer, pairing up 49 men and 49 women, for the first known computer-date-matched party.
Stanford, history, IBM 650, computer date matching, student life, humor
C. Stewart Gillmor, "Stanford, the IBM 650, and the First Trials of Computer Date Matching", IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol.29, no. 1, pp. 74-80, January-March 2007, doi:10.1109/MAHC.2007.13
1. A less technical version of this article appeared as "Computers in Love: Stanford and the First Trials of Computer Date Matching," Sandstone and Tile, vol. 26, no. 2–3, 2002, pp. 1–9, http:/
2. For additional information on the early history of Stanford's computer science program, see chapters 6–7 of C. Stewart Gillmor, Fred Terman at Stanford: Building a Discipline, a University, and Silicon Valley, Stanford Univ. Press, 2004.
3. Terman, by 1955 both dean of engineering and provost, was the first faculty member I met upon arriving as a student at Stanford in 1956. Herriot was my calculus teacher in freshman year, and Peterson was my first advisor.
4. D.I. McFadden to W. Sterling, 16 July 1952, concerning 15 July meeting of Terman, Bowker, Herriot, Peterson, and others; Stanford Univ. Archives, SC216/13/13.
5. G.J. Lieberman to Terman, 9 Jan. 1956, Stanford Univ. Archives, SC216/13/17.
6. F. Terman, President's Report, 1955–56, School of Engineering, Stanford Univ. Archives, 1103/3.
7. C. Stewart Gillmor, "Stanford Sadie and the Early Years of KZSU Radio Broadcasting," Sandstone and Tile, vol. 23, no. 1, 1999, pp. 11–20, http:/
8. For a convenient description of US computers in 1956, see J.W. Carr, "Solving Scientific Problems," Control Eng., vol. 3, Jan. 1956, pp. 63–70, J.W. Carr and A.J. Perlis, "A Comparison of Large-Scale Calculators," Control Eng. , vol. 3, Feb. 1956, pp. 84–92; and J.W. Carr and A.J. Perlis, "Small-Scale Computers as Scientific Calculators," Control Eng. , vol. 3, Mar. 1956, pp. 99–104.
9. See C.J. Bashe et al., IBM's Early Computers, MIT Press, 1986.
10. P.A. Fialer and J.A. Harvey Math 139 Project File, 1959, in private collection of James A. Harvey.
11. "216 Meets 4," Time, 25 Oct. 1963, p. 102.
12. S. Gillmor letter to the editor, Time, 8 Nov. 1963.
13. Stanford University Archives, SC160/III/61/2, E. Forsythe Report of Ad Hoc Committee for the Stanford Computation Center, Appendix by John Herriot, 19 Feb. 1960.
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