1951 International Workshop on Managing Requirements Knowledge (1951)
Philadelphia, PA, USA
Dec. 10, 1951 to Dec. 12, 1951
DOI Bookmark: http://doi.ieeecomputersociety.org/10.1109/AFIPS.1951.9
The author's purpose is to provide a background, first for meetings like this on subjects dealing with computers, and second, for this particular meeting. This meeting is sponsored by the Joint AlEE-IRE Computer Committee, with assistance from the Association for Computing Machinery. It is a direct outgrowth of the successsful meeting a year ago at Atlantic City, NJ, USA, on electron tubes for computers. A review of life in the field of large-scale digital computers will make it clear how timely this meeting is. The author points out four phases of life in this field. The phases were preceded by a period of pioneering, in which a relatively small number of people developed computers such as the ENIAC and the MARK I calculator. The first phase is called the future, or building, or talking phase. The common denominator was a remark somewhat like this: "What a wonderful critter our computer is going to be." The second phase is what might be called the subjunctive, or debugging, or possibly the silent phase. The remarks that people made in this phase were, "It sure would be nice if we could get this thing to work." The third phase is the present, or working, or bright-look phase, and the remarks that people made at this time were, "Our computer is working now, but we haven't had enough experience to judge it properly." The fourth I have called the past or getting-results phase. This again is a talking phase, and people tend to say nowadays, "It has been working fine; we are glad we built it, hut we wish we had done this and this instead of what we actually did. However, we are going to fix that in our new model, and besides we are going to make it a lot simpler and more reliable." It is because of this latter phase that we have scheduled this meeting now. Computer people have had enough experience to judge the large machines that they have produced, and it is appropriate to take stock now, before people get too far along on the new round of machines which is being started.
W. H. MacWilliams, Jr., "Keynote address," 1951 International Workshop on Managing Requirements Knowledge(AFIPS), Philadelphia, PA, USA, 2013, pp. 5.