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Issue No.02 - April-June (2011 vol.33)
pp: 89-95
<p>Gordon Bell and Allen Newell authored <it>Computer Structures: Readings and Examples</it> in 1971, and with them, Daniel Siewiorek help create the follow-up book <it>Computer Structures: Principles and Examples</it> in 1982. In this Anecdotes article, authors Bell and Siewiorek share their recollections from writing these foundational technical books. The indirect effects of producing these texts had lasting imprints on subsequent computers at Carnegie Mellon University, Digital Equipment's PDP-11 and VAX computers, Bell's law describing computer classes, and even the computer artifact classification at the Computer History Museum.</p>
history of computing, Carnegie Mellon University, PMS, ISP, Bell's law, the computer artifact classification, Computer Structures, Computer History Museum
Gordon Bell, Daniel P. Siewiorek, "The Book Computer Structures: Thoughts After 40 Years", IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol.33, no. 2, pp. 89-95, April-June 2011, doi:10.1109/MAHC.2011.47
1. This article was adapted from a talk, "Recollecting Computer Structures," that I gave at Carnegie Mellon University's School of Computer Science when CMU granted me a Doctor of Science and Technology in May 2010.
2. C.G. Bell and A. Newell, Computer Structures: Readings and Examples, McGraw Hill, 1971; D. Siewiorek, C. Bell, and A. Newell, Computer Structures: Principles and Examples, McGraw Hill, 1982.
3. C.G. Bell, "Bell's Law for the Birth and Death of Computer Classes," Comm. ACM, vol. 51, no. 1, 2008, pp. 86–94.
4. Until 2005, the most vexing question I've had since developing the PMS system has been the identity of software as a PMS component. To have a complete, functional taxonomy where the largest system component does not have a name within the framework is untenable. In 2005, my "ah ha" moment came while working on my own computing timeline of the important historical events. Software is the control element in a computer system! Control is the element that defines a system's behavior. Control exists at the lowest level as a finite-state machine; as a microprogram it defines the behavior of a processor; as an operating system to define the machine, including language transformations, for applications; and to define the function and behavior of the computer for use (behaving as a game, data store, communications link, calculator, word processor, etc.).
5. I believe the vast software world is nicely classified in terms of PMs—e.g. database and file systems are M's, compilers are T's, and operating systems or languages are just different computers that are hosted by a lower level computer.
6. C.G. Bell, "Multis: A New Class of Multiprocessor Computers," Science, vol. 228, no. 4698, 26 Apr. 1985, pp. 462–467.
7. W.E. Burr, A.H. Coleman, and W.R. Smith, "Overview of the Military Computer Family Architecture Selection," Proc. Nat'l Computer Conf., Am. Federation of Information Processing Societies (AFIPS), 1977, p. 131.
8. J.L. Hennessy and D.A. Patterson, Computer Architecture: A Quantitative Approach, Morgan Kaufmann, 1990.
9. R.W. Hockney and C.R. Jesshope, Parallel Computers: Architecture, Programming, and Algorithms, Adam-Hilger, 1981.
10. C.G. Bell and P. Freeman, "—A Computer for AI Research," Proc. AFIPS Fall Joint Computer Conf., Am. Federation of Information Processing Societies (AFIPS), 1972, pp. 779–790.
11. C.G. Bell et al., "The Architecture and Applications of Computer Modules: A Set of Components for Digital Design," Proc. IEEE Int'l Computer Conf. (CompCon), IEEE Press, 1973, pp. 177–180.
12. One monograph, 27 papers, 38 master's theses, and PhD dissertations. The cost was about $5 million for 13 years.
13. This came up during a discussion with T. Codd of IBM about a general model of communication among PMS components.
14. This came up during lunch with A. Perlis, a pioneer, one of the department's founders, and a member of the Algol Committee.
15. P. Pierce of Portland, Oregon, has used Computer Structures to guide his own collection of classic computers.
16. M. Barbacci and D. Siewiorek, The Design and Analysis of Instruction Set Processors, McGraw Hill, 1982.
17. C.G. Bell et al., "The Description and Use of Register Transfer Modules (RTMs)," IEEE Trans. Computers, vol. 21 no. 5, 1972, pp. 495–500.
18. D. Siewiorek and M. Barbacci, "The CMU RT-CAD System: An Innovative Approach to Computer Aided Design," Proc. AFIPS Nat'l Computer Conf. and Exposition, Am. Federation of Information Processing Societies (AFIPS), 1976, pp. 643–655.
19. M.R. Barbacci, C.B. Weinstock, and J.M. Wing, "Programming at the Processor-Memory-Switch Level," Proc. 10th Int'l Conf. Software Eng. (ICSE), IEEE CS Press, 1988, pp. 19-29.
20. S.M. Rubin, Computer Aids for VLSI, R.L. Ranch Press, 1987, revised 1994.
21. Grosch conjectured that a computer's performance increases as the square of the price.
22. C.G. Bell, R. Chen, and S. Rege, "The Effect of Technology on Near Term Computer Structures," Computer, vol. 5, no. 2, 1972, pp. 29–38.
23. C.G. Bell, J. McNamara, and J.C. Mudge, Computer Engineering: A DEC View of Computer Design, Digital Press, 1978.
24. G.E. Moore, "Progress in Digital Integrated Electronics," Proc. Int'l Electron Devices Meeting, IEEE Press, 1975, pp. 11–13.
25. H. Simon, Allen Newell, 1927–1992, Nat'l Academies Press, 1997, pp. 157–158; anewell.pdf .
26. F. Brooks, "Computer Structures: Readings and Examples," book review, Computing Rev., May 1971, pp. 245–248.
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