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Milestone-Proposal:Whirlwind Computer

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{{Proposal|docketid=2010-11|a1=Whirlwind Computer|a2a=Cambridge MA|a2b=Boston Section|a3=1944 to 1959|a4=ABSTRACT
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{{Proposal
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|docketid=2010-11
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|a11=Yes
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|a3=1944  to 1959
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|a1=Whirlwind Computer
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|a2b=Boston Section
 +
|IEEE units paying={{IEEE Organizational Unit Paying
 +
|Unit=Boston Section
 +
|Senior officer name=Robert Alongi
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|Senior officer email=sec.boston@ieee.org
 +
}}
 +
|IEEE units arranging={{IEEE Organizational Unit Arranging
 +
|Unit=Boston Section
 +
|Senior officer name=Robert Alongi
 +
|Senior officer email=sec.boston@ieee.org
 +
}}
 +
|IEEE sections monitoring={{IEEE Section Monitoring
 +
|Section=Boston Section
 +
|Section chair name=Bruce Hecht
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|Section chair email=Bruce.Hecht@analog.com
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}}
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|Milestone proposers={{Milestone proposer
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|Proposer name=Gilmore Cooke
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|Proposer email=gilcooke@ieee.org
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}}
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|a2a=Cambridge MA
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|a7=Whirlwind was built and operated in MIT's Barta Building at 211 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge. The computer operated and remained at that location throughout its lifetime. The building is now MIT building N42.
 +
The Section will seek approval from MIT's President's Office to mount this milestone plaque on that building, alongside other IEEE plaques that may be awarded.
 +
|a8=Yes
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|a9=The original building where Whirlwind was housed is  located at 211 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge. The plaque would be readily visible to pedestrians walking on the public sidewalk along this major street in Cambridge.
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|a10=MIT
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|a4=ABSTRACT
 
The Whirlwind I computer was developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) between 1945 and 1952 in a project directed by Jay Forrester. The project was first carried out in the Servomechanisms Laboratory. Later it separated to become the Digital Computer Laboratory and Lincoln Laboratory, Division 6, and testing continued through 1958. Jay Forrester served as director of both laboratories until 1956, and Robert Everett as associate director, then director. A key part of the Whirlwind I design was the high-speed and highly reliable magnetic core memory for the computer storage system, replacing electrostatic storage tubes. Jay Forrester was issued a patent for the magnetic core memory, and it was used successfully and widely in large computers. (1)
 
The Whirlwind I computer was developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) between 1945 and 1952 in a project directed by Jay Forrester. The project was first carried out in the Servomechanisms Laboratory. Later it separated to become the Digital Computer Laboratory and Lincoln Laboratory, Division 6, and testing continued through 1958. Jay Forrester served as director of both laboratories until 1956, and Robert Everett as associate director, then director. A key part of the Whirlwind I design was the high-speed and highly reliable magnetic core memory for the computer storage system, replacing electrostatic storage tubes. Jay Forrester was issued a patent for the magnetic core memory, and it was used successfully and widely in large computers. (1)
 
HISTORICAL NOTES
 
HISTORICAL NOTES
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1. Project Whirlwind Collection, MC 665, box _. Institute Archives and Special Collections, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
 
1. Project Whirlwind Collection, MC 665, box _. Institute Archives and Special Collections, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
 
http://libraries.mit.edu/archives/research/collections/collections-mc/mc665.html
 
http://libraries.mit.edu/archives/research/collections/collections-mc/mc665.html
2. Wikipedia.|a5=By 1947, Forrester and collaborator Robert Everett completed the design of a high-speed stored-program computer for the project.  Most computers of the era operated in [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serial_computer bit-serial mode], using single-bit arithmetic.|a6=The Whirlwind computer project was well funded, had  great leaders, and was manned by a staff of great scientists, technicians, software and hardware engineers.  
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2. Wikipedia.
Obstacles were encountered and resolved  during Whirlwind's first live-on-stage performance when the Cape Cod System came into being. The Cape Cod System is considered a landmark electrical project,  worthy of its  own IEEE Milestone. This is covered elsewhere.|a7=Whirlwind was built and operated in MIT's Barta Building at 211 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge. The computer operated and remained at that location throughout its lifetime. The building is now MIT building N42.
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|a6=The Whirlwind computer project was well funded, had  great leaders, and was manned by a staff of great scientists, technicians, software and hardware engineers.  
The Section will seek approval from MIT's President's Office to mount this milestone plaque on that building, alongside other IEEE plaques that may be awarded.|a8=Yes|a9=The original building where Whirlwind  was housed is  located at 211 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge. The plaque would be readily visible to pedestrians walking on the public sidewalk along this major street in Cambridge.|a10=MIT|a11=Yes|a12=Boston Section with support from local  Society Chapters.|a13name=Bruce Hecht|a13section=Boston|a13position=2010 Chair|a13email=Bruce.Hecht@analog.com|a14name=Robert Alongi|a14ou=Boston Section|a14position=Section Business Manager|a14email=sec.boston@ieee.org|a15Aname=Gilmore Cooke|a15Aemail=gilcooke@ieee.org|a15Aname2=|a15Aemail2=|a15Bname=c/o Robert Alongi|a15Bemail=sec.boston@ieee.org|a15Bname2=|a15Bemail2=|a15Cname=Gilmore Cooke|a15Ctitle=PE retired|a15Corg=Boston Section Executive Committee|a15Caddress=8 Canvasback, W Yarmouth MA 02673|a15Cphone=617-759-4271|a15Cemail=gilcooke@ieee.org}}
+
Obstacles were encountered and resolved  during Whirlwind's first live-on-stage performance when the Cape Cod System came into being. The Cape Cod System is considered a landmark electrical project,  worthy of its  own IEEE Milestone. This is covered elsewhere.
 +
|a5=By 1947, Forrester and collaborator Robert Everett completed the design of a high-speed stored-program computer for the project.  Most computers of the era operated in [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serial_computer bit-serial mode], using single-bit arithmetic.
 +
|submitted=No
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|a12=Boston Section with support from local  Society Chapters.
 +
|a13name=Bruce Hecht
 +
|a13section=Boston
 +
|a13position=2010 Chair
 +
|a13email=Bruce.Hecht@analog.com
 +
|a14name=Robert Alongi
 +
|a14ou=Boston Section
 +
|a14position=Section Business Manager
 +
|a14email=sec.boston@ieee.org
 +
|a15Aname=Gilmore Cooke
 +
|a15Aemail=gilcooke@ieee.org
 +
|a15Aname2=
 +
|a15Aemail2=
 +
|a15Bname=c/o Robert Alongi
 +
|a15Bemail=sec.boston@ieee.org
 +
|a15Bname2=
 +
|a15Bemail2=
 +
|a15Cname=Gilmore Cooke
 +
|a15Ctitle=PE retired
 +
|a15Corg=Boston Section Executive Committee
 +
|a15Caddress=8 Canvasback, W Yarmouth MA 02673
 +
|a15Cphone=617-759-4271
 +
|a15Cemail=gilcooke@ieee.org
 +
}}

Latest revision as of 13:19, 18 July 2012

Docket #:2010-11

This Proposal has been approved, and is now a Milestone Nomination

This is a draft proposal, that has not yet been submitted. To submit this proposal, click on "Edit with form", check the "Submit this proposal for review" box at the bottom, and save the page.


Is the achievement you are proposing more than 25 years old?


Is the achievement you are proposing within IEEE’s fields of interest? (e.g. “the theory and practice of electrical, electronics, communications and computer engineering, as well as computer science, the allied branches of engineering and the related arts and sciences” – from the IEEE Constitution)


Did the achievement provide a meaningful benefit for humanity?


Was it of at least regional importance?


Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to pay for the milestone plaque(s)?


Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to arrange the dedication ceremony?


Has the IEEE Section in which the milestone is located agreed to take responsibility for the plaque after it is dedicated?


Has the owner of the site agreed to have it designated as an Electrical Engineering Milestone? Yes


Year or range of years in which the achievement occurred:

1944 to 1959

Title of the proposed milestone:

Whirlwind Computer

Plaque citation summarizing the achievement and its significance:


In what IEEE section(s) does it reside?

Boston Section

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) which have agreed to sponsor the Milestone:

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) paying for milestone plaque(s):

Unit: Boston Section
Senior Officer Name: Senior officer name masked to public

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) arranging the dedication ceremony:

Unit: Boston Section
Senior Officer Name: Senior officer name masked to public

IEEE section(s) monitoring the plaque(s):

IEEE Section: Boston Section
IEEE Section Chair name: Section chair name masked to public

Milestone proposer(s):

Proposer name: Proposer's name masked to public
Proposer email: Proposer's email masked to public

Please note: your email address and contact information will be masked on the website for privacy reasons. Only IEEE History Center Staff will be able to view the email address.

Street address(es) and GPS coordinates of the intended milestone plaque site(s):

Cambridge MA

Describe briefly the intended site(s) of the milestone plaque(s). The intended site(s) must have a direct connection with the achievement (e.g. where developed, invented, tested, demonstrated, installed, or operated, etc.). A museum where a device or example of the technology is displayed, or the university where the inventor studied, are not, in themselves, sufficient connection for a milestone plaque.

Please give the address(es) of the plaque site(s) (GPS coordinates if you have them). Also please give the details of the mounting, i.e. on the outside of the building, in the ground floor entrance hall, on a plinth on the grounds, etc. If visitors to the plaque site will need to go through security, or make an appointment, please give the contact information visitors will need.

Whirlwind was built and operated in MIT's Barta Building at 211 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge. The computer operated and remained at that location throughout its lifetime. The building is now MIT building N42. The Section will seek approval from MIT's President's Office to mount this milestone plaque on that building, alongside other IEEE plaques that may be awarded.

Are the original buildings extant?

Yes

Details of the plaque mounting:


How is the site protected/secured, and in what ways is it accessible to the public?

The original building where Whirlwind was housed is located at 211 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge. The plaque would be readily visible to pedestrians walking on the public sidewalk along this major street in Cambridge.

Who is the present owner of the site(s)?

MIT

A letter in English, or with English translation, from the site owner(s) giving permission to place IEEE milestone plaque on the property:


A letter or email from the appropriate Section Chair supporting the Milestone application:


What is the historical significance of the work (its technological, scientific, or social importance)?

ABSTRACT The Whirlwind I computer was developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) between 1945 and 1952 in a project directed by Jay Forrester. The project was first carried out in the Servomechanisms Laboratory. Later it separated to become the Digital Computer Laboratory and Lincoln Laboratory, Division 6, and testing continued through 1958. Jay Forrester served as director of both laboratories until 1956, and Robert Everett as associate director, then director. A key part of the Whirlwind I design was the high-speed and highly reliable magnetic core memory for the computer storage system, replacing electrostatic storage tubes. Jay Forrester was issued a patent for the magnetic core memory, and it was used successfully and widely in large computers. (1) HISTORICAL NOTES The development of Whirlwind, one of the first large-scale high-speed computers, began during World War II as part of a research project to develop a universal flight trainer that would simulate flight (the Aircraft Stability and Control Analyzer project). It was initiated by the Office of Naval Research and began at the MIT Servomechanisms Laboratory in 1944. Eventually the focus of the grant, a flight simulator, using an analog computer, changed to developing a high-speed digital computer. While building the computer, researcher Jay W. Forrester invented random-access, coincident-current magnetic storage, which became the standard memory device for digital computers. Prior to Forrester's discovery, electrostatic storage tubes were used. The introduction and change to magnetic core memory provided high levels of speed and of reliability. By late 1951, the computer Whirlwind was operational and made available for scientific and military research. Unclassified research projects using the Whirlwind computer were managed by the Digital Computer Lab staff on the MIT campus, where Whirlwind occupied the Barta Building (N42), which had been acquired in 1947 to provide sufficient space for the computer as it was designed and constructed. In 1952 staff working on classified projects left to be part of the newly organized Lincoln Laboratory off campus, to form Division 6, Digital Computer Division. Although their projects were classified, the Whirlwind computer itself was not, and remained in the Barta Building. Jay Forrester served as director of both the Digital Computer Laboratory and Division 6, Lincoln Laboratory until 1956, when he became a member of the MIT faculty pursuing interests in system dynamics in management. Robert Everett served as associate director of both labs until he succeeded Forrester as director. The U.S. Air Force provided substantial financial support for Whirlwind applications and it was a key component in the design of the Air Force's SAGE (Semi-Automatic Ground Environment) air defense system in the 1950s. Whirlwind computer was shut down on May 29, 1959. It was disassembled and moved out of the Barta building in the spring of 1960. (1) REFERENCES or SOURCES USED 1. Project Whirlwind Collection, MC 665, box _. Institute Archives and Special Collections, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts. http://libraries.mit.edu/archives/research/collections/collections-mc/mc665.html 2. Wikipedia.

What obstacles (technical, political, geographic) needed to be overcome?

The Whirlwind computer project was well funded, had great leaders, and was manned by a staff of great scientists, technicians, software and hardware engineers. Obstacles were encountered and resolved during Whirlwind's first live-on-stage performance when the Cape Cod System came into being. The Cape Cod System is considered a landmark electrical project, worthy of its own IEEE Milestone. This is covered elsewhere.

What features set this work apart from similar achievements?

By 1947, Forrester and collaborator Robert Everett completed the design of a high-speed stored-program computer for the project. Most computers of the era operated in bit-serial mode, using single-bit arithmetic.

References to establish the dates, location, and importance of the achievement: Minimum of five (5), but as many as needed to support the milestone, such as patents, contemporary newspaper articles, journal articles, or citations to pages in scholarly books. At least one of the references must be from a scholarly book or journal article.


Supporting materials (supported formats: GIF, JPEG, PNG, PDF, DOC): All supporting materials must be in English, or if not in English, accompanied by an English translation. You must supply the texts or excerpts themselves, not just the references. For documents that are copyright-encumbered, or which you do not have rights to post, email the documents themselves to ieee-history@ieee.org. Please see the Milestone Program Guidelines for more information.