Archives:The Computer Pioneers: The Whirlwind Computer
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This archival footage of an unfinished documentary produced by Richard Solomon chronicles the development of the Whirlwind computer at MIT in the late 1940s into the early 1950s. The United States Navy approached MIT about building a computer to power a flight simulator to train pilots during World War II. This computer, which would come to be known as the Whirlwind computer, was completed and put online in 1951. The Navy lost interest with it after a few years, but the United States Air Force was intrigued by the Whirlwind's capability to aid in ground controlled interception of aircraft and took over the project in the mid-1950s.
The Whirlwind computer is noted for several things. The development of the Whirlwind under the United States Air Force was crucial to the development of the SAGE air defense system. Additionally, Whirlwind was the first computer to operate in real-time and use a video display. The Whirlwind also indirectly played a part in the development of microcomputers in the 1960s.
This series of videos contains discussions by several key members of the Whirlwind development team including Jay Forrester, Perry Crawford, James Killian, Norman H. Taylor, Charles Adams, Dean Arden, J.T. Gilmore, Hal Laning, Robert Everett, and Robert Taylor.
Segment 1 - April 14, 1983, Perry Crawford, Charles Adams, Dean Arden, J.T. Gilmore, and Hal Laning