July–September 2010 (Vol. 32, No. 3) pp. 2-3
1058-6180/10/$31.00 © 2010 IEEE
Published by the IEEE Computer Society
Published by the IEEE Computer Society
From the Editor's Desk
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From Paul Ceruzzi's important study of Konrad Zuse's early computers (July 1981) and the informative and engaging accounts of the buildup, product development, and software contributions of IBM Boeblingen by Karl Ganzhorn and Albert Endres (July 2004) to Corrina Schlomb's comparative examination of IBM and Remington Rand's German/European strategies (October 2008), Timo Leimbach's analysis of German software giant SAP (October 2008), and last issue's study of Cold War GDR computing by Simon Donig, many important accounts and works of scholarship on the German history of computing have been published in the Annals. At the same time, many critical topics have yet to be significantly addressed.
In the 1970s, Heinz Nixdorf AG was the leading German computer firm—an enterprise that subsequently funded one of the premiere history of computing museums in the world—yet it has not been studied in any depth in the Annals or other English-language publications. Prior to this issue, the same was true of electronics giant AEG-Telefunken's fundamental contributions to German and European computing with its TR 4 and TR 440 computers. Pioneers from AEG-Telefunken's TR 440 team richly document these developments in the first four articles of this issue.
They explore the company and the development of its strategy for creating large-scale computers, detail the organization and design work to produce the TR 440 computer, outline the software development effort for this system, and examine the TR 440 from the perspective of its users.
These articles were collectively planned by the authors (Eike Jessen, Dieter Michel, Hans-Juergen Siegert, Heinz Voigt, and Hans Rüdiger Wiehle), but the submissions were not officially proposed as a special issue. Once the articles passed peer review, I corresponded with the authors about publishing them all in one issue (with a publication position defined by the date that the last of the four articles passed peer review). As such, there was an unusually long time from initial submission to publication.
I am very sad to report that one of the authors passed away on 2 December 2008: Heinz Voigt, who was the chief engineer for the TR 440 Structure and Hardware. His fellow authors asked that I pass along their deep grief of his passing, as well as the following thoughts:
All those who had the opportunity to work with Heinz Voigt (even on the night shifts for the test prototypes) admired his deep devotion to the project and his extraordinary gift to find solutions for tricky problems, not to mention his cordial engagement with the members of his team.
At the Annals, we extend our deepest sympathies to the family, friends, and colleagues of Heinz Voigt and are grateful for the opportunity to publish his work and that of his colleagues.
This issue also brings operating systems to the fore. Relatively little historical literature has focused on OSs, with the notable exception of IBM's OS/360—which was examined eloquently by Frederick Brooks Jr. in essays in the Mythical Man-Month (Addison-Wesley, 1975) and discussed with technical precision in Emerson Pugh, Lyle Johnson, and John Palmer's IBM's 360 and Early 370 Systems (MIT Press, 1991)—and the open source movement, analyzed thoughtfully by Stephen Weber in The Success of Open Source (Harvard University Press, 2004). They have received far less than the attention that has been paid to the equally important topic of programming languages. A few other major OSs have been addressed in the pages of the Annals in decades past, including Clark Olphint's study of the OS for the Burroughs B5000 (January 1987) and G.W. Reitwiesner's article on the first OS for the EDVAC (January 1997). In addition to this issue's rich discussion of the TR 440's time-sharing operating system (especially in Hans-Juergen Siegert's article on TR 440 software), this issue also contains an important analysis of the history of Unix by Warren Toomey. Complementing Weber's early historical chapters and usefully drawing from Michael Mahoney's oral histories from the Unix Oral History Project and a range of other sources, Toomey provides an important technical analysis of the first edition Unix.
Readers may contact Jeffrey R. Yost at email@example.com.