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Issue No.02 - April-June (2006 vol.28)
pp: 81-86
Tim Bergin , American University
Carl Hammer was a pioneer in many ways, but he was foremost an organizer and a tireless promoter of computing.
Carl Hammer, Univac, professional associations
Tim Bergin, "Biographies: Carl Hammer (1914-2004)", IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol.28, no. 2, pp. 81-86, April-June 2006, doi:10.1109/MAHC.2006.26
1. See C. Hammer oral history interview by J.R. Baker, 15 Apr. 1983, CBI OH 56, Charles Babbage Inst. (CBI), Univ. of Minnesota, Minneapolis; and J.A.N. Lee, Computer Pioneers, IEEE CS Press, 1995, pp. 358–359.
2. In the early 1990s, I worked with Carl to prepare notes about his career. This reference is to those notes, p. 5; the page numbers are continuous throughout.
3. Notes, p. 10.
4. According to, $1,100 in 1941 would be worth $14,120 in 2006 dollars.
5. C. Hammer, oral history interview by J.R. Baker Ross, CBI OH 56, p. 27.
6. According to the New York State Education Department, Walter Hervey closed its doors in 1957.
7. Notes, p. 17. Carl's ability to "make the rounds" and meet people served him throughout his illustrious career
8. C. Hammer, oral history interview by J.R. Baker Ross, CBI OH 56, p. 12. In recognition of IBM's support, the laboratory was renamed The Thomas J. Watson Astronomical Computing Bureau on 6 February 1945 and was the location of numerous firsts in the computer field.
9. SIAM was incorporated as a nonprofit organization under the laws of the State of Delaware on 30 April 1952.
10. A-2 and A-3 were early UNIVAC languages for doing mathematical problems, and used a three-address coding structure. See: J.E. Sammet, Programming Languages: History and Fundamentals, Prentice-Hall, 1969, p. 753.
11. Notes, p. 23
12. See W.S. Humphrey, "MOBIDIC and Fieldata," Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 9, no. 2, 1987, pp. 137–182.
13. MOBIDIC never left the experimental stage. The system was used in Germany from 1957 to 1962 when the Fieldata project was cancelled due to a general reorganization of the US Army.
14. C. Hammer and H. Montvilla, Maximal Flow in Networks, A Survey, RCA, 31 Oct. 1960.
15. For example, C. Hammer, Fourier Analysis of EZ Aquilae Data," RCA, 31 Mar. 1961; C. Hammer, L.H. Byrne and V. Mitchell, Multivariate Quadratic Regression and Correlation," RCA, 6 Oct. 1961; and C. Hammer, L.H. Byrne, and B. Urban, Statistical System for MATS, RCA, 9 Nov. 1961.
16. Carl Hammer documented everything. One has only to look at the Carl Hammer Papers, 1950–1990 at CBI (CBI 3) to see how thorough he was. In CBI 56, Carl discusses his Roladex file in which he had 9,000 names, addresses, and telephone numbers.
17. C. Hammer, oral history interview by J.R. Baker Ross, CBI OH 56, p. 30. Carl used this diary to prepare his Notes.
18. D.G. Copeland et al, "Sabre: The Development of Information-Based Competence and Execution of Information-Based Competition," Annals, vol. 17, no. 3, 1995, pp. 30–57; and R.V. Head, "Getting Sabre Off the Ground," Annals, vol. 24, no. 4, 2002, pp. 32–39.
19. Interestingly, although this area was new to Hammer, on 18 May 1965, he gave an invited address to the New York Chapter of the IEEE on the "somewhat esoteric subject of Traffic Control."
20. Worth $234 million in 2004 dollars ( For comparison purposes, the Sabre system was fully operational in 1964; two other IBM-based systems, Deltamatic and Panamac were operational in 1965. See D.G. Copeland and J.L. McKenney, "Airline Reservation Systems: Lessons from History," MIS Quarterly, vol. 12, no. 3, 1988, p. 356.
21. According to D.G. Copeland et al. (ref. 18), the United and Eastern reservation systems failed because they lacked experience with the application and the technology; see "Sabre: The Development of Information-Based Competence and Execution of Information-Based Competition," Annals, p. 40; D.G. Copeland and J.L. McKenney, "Airline Reservation Systems: Lessons from History," MIS Quarterly, pp. 356–357 (ref. 20). Hammer also refers to this project as a "fiasco" as being resolved in both (UAL and Univac) parties' favor. See Notes, p. 55.
22. Notes, p. 19.
23. Notes, p. 35.
24. Notes, p. 95.
25. Eugene McCarthy (D-Minn.) challenged incumbent Lyndon Johnson for the 1968 Democratic nomination. When Johnson announced he would not run for reelection, the Democratic party selected Vice President Hubert Humphrey (a former senator from Minnesota).
26. Annals, vol. 4, no. 3, 1982, p. 248.
27. Annals, vol. 4, no. 3, 1982, pp. 245–256, contains "Mauchly: Unpublished Remarks," which contains the transcript of the Fireside Chat and an introduction by Carl Hammer.
28. H. Donlan, "At the Top," Inside DPMA, vol. 29, no. 9, 1991, p. 5.
29. Notes, p. 174.
30. Indeed, shortly after I attended his seminar at American University, Carl enlisted me to talk to one of the local DPMA chapters on whatever I was working on at the time. This was repeated over the years with new topics.
31. AFIPS was a federation of societies formed to provide a mechanism for US participation in the International Federation of Information Processing Societies. Unlike the constituent societies, which were made up of individual members (who shared a common professional interest), AFIPS was a "society of societies." For more about AFIPS, see: "AFIPS 1961–1986," a special issue of Annals, vol. 8, no. 3, 1986, pp. 211–310.
32. Notes, p. 101.
33. V.C. Walker, "Meetings in Retrospect," Annals, vol. 3, no. 4, 1981, pp. 400–407.
34. The Annals of the History of Computing was the first periodical to be published by AFIPS. In the first issue, in July 1979, Aaron Finerman, Chairman of the AFIPS Publications Committee acknowledges the efforts of the Annals Organizing Committee, the Editorial Board, the AFIPS History of Computing Committee (HOCC) and its present and past chairs, Jean Sammet and William Leubbert. Sammet provided an overview of "General AFIPS History of Computing Activities" on pp. 6–8.
35. Annals, "Notices," vol. 7, no. 4, 1985, p. 362.
36. C. Hammer, "Computer Communications: The Future," Computer Communications: Impacts and Implications—The 1st Int'l Conf. Computer Communication, S. Winkler, ed., ACM Press, 1972, pp. 31–35.
37. Carl served as one of the governors of the ICCC and remained active in this movement through his retirement in 1981.
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