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Grace Hopper Computer Oral History Collection
1969-1973, 1977

43.5 cubic feet: 158 boxes
By Alison L. Oswald, March 1996
Revised by Alison Oswald, August 1999; May 2010
Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
© 1999 by the Smithsonian Institution. All rights reserved.

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Table of Contents

History
Scope and Content Note
Abstracts
 
Series 1: Transcripts, 1969-1973, 1977
Series 2: Supplemental Documentation, 1922-1974
Series 3: Patents, 1940-1973
Series 4: John Vincent Atanasoff's Materials, 1927-1968
Series 5: Audio Tapes, 1967-1974, 1977
Series 6: Video Tapes, 1968-1972

Provenance
Related Collections
Acronyms
Container List

Transcripts of the following oral history interviews are available online as PDF documents. Those marked with an asterisk (*) were made possible by the Morton I. Bernstein Fund. Morton Bernstein was a pioneer computer programmer and friend of the Archives Center, National Museum of American History. Transcripts marked with a double asterisk (**) were made possible by the Association for Computing Machinery, the Special Interest Group on Management of Data (SIGMOD), and the Special Interest Group on Programming Languages (SIGPLAN). Charlie Bachman and William Olle kindly reviewed and edited the Conference on Data System Languages (CODASYL) Meeting transcript.

Howard Aiken, February 26-27, 1973*
Franz Alt, February 24, 1969**
Franz Alt, March 13, 1969**
Franz Alt, September 12, 1972**
Paul Armer, April 17, 1973**
Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Annual Meeting, August 30, 1967
Association for Computing Machinery Conference, August 14, 1972**
John V. Atanasoff, 1969
John V. Atanasoff, May 5, 1969
John V. Atanasoff, February 18, 1972
John V. Atanasoff, April 17, 1972
John V. Atanasoff, April 24, 1972
John V. Atanasoff, May 11, 1972
John V. Atanasoff, May 24, 1972
John V. Atanasoff, June 7, 1972
John V. Atanasoff and Alice Atanasoff, July 17, 1972
John V. Atanasoff, August 10, 1972
John V. Atanasoff, August 16, 1972
John V. Atanasoff, August 28, 1972
Jean Bartik and Frances Holberton, April 27, 1973*
Morton Bernstein, March 14, 1973*
Julian Bigelow, January 20, 1971
James Bradburn, February 1, 1973
Werner Buchholz and Byron Phelps, July 20, 1973
Gertrude Blanch, May 16, 1973*
CODASYL (Conference on Data System Languages), May 27, 1969**
Arthur H. Dickinson, March 8, 1973
William Farrand and William Downey, June 25, 1973
Harry Earl Goheen, August 15, 1972
Jackson Granholm, June 7, 1973
Sidney Greenwald, November 25, 1970
Ralph Griswold, May 14, 1972; May 21, 1972; and May 28, 1972**
Herbert R. Grosch, July 15, 1970**
Herbert R. Grosch, August 24, 1970**
Herbert R. Grosch, August 28, 1970**
Herbert R. Grosch, November 9, 1970**
Herbert R. Grosch, March 30, 1971**
Herbert R. Grosch, May 7, 1971**
Henry Herold and Jack Mitchell, April 10, 1973
B. Holbrook, May 10, 1969
Grace Murray Hopper, July 1968*
Grace Murray Hopper, November 1968*
Grace Murray Hopper, January 7, 1969*
Grace Murray Hopper, February 4, 1969*
Grace Murray Hopper, July 5, 1972*
Bernard Horwitz, February 7, 1973
Alston Scott Householder, July 20, 1970**
Harry Huskey and Mrs. Huskey, March 9, 1972**
Harry Huskey and Mrs. Huskey, April 19, 1973**
Josef Kates, June 29, 1971
Roy Kaufold and Walt Edwards, February 2, 1973
Les Kilpatrick, May 17, 1973
Russell Kirsch, October 8, 1970
Irving Korn, May 11, 1973
Sandy Lanzarotta, September 12, 1973
John Lowe, October 16, 1973
Richard Martin, April 27, 1970
John Mauchly, June 22, 1970**
John Mauchly, January 10, 1973**
John Mauchly, February 6, 1973**
John Mauchly, February 23, 1973**
Roger Mills, May 14, 1973
Philip Morse, December 16, 1970
Eldred Nelson, October 17, 1972
Max Palevsky, February 15, 1973
R.D. Parker, July 13, 1970
Harry Polachek, March 24, 1970
Jacob Rabinow, November 23, 1970*
Jan Rajchman, October 26, 1970
Mina Rees, March 19, 1969*
Mina Rees, September 14, 1972*
Mina Rees, October 20, 1972*
Ida Rhodes, March 21, 1973*
Rex Rice, October, 10 1972
Nathaniel Rochester, July 24, 1973
Milton Rosenberg, February 19, 1973
Paul Rosenthal, May 16, 1973
Morris Rubinoff, May 17, 1971
John M. Salzer, February 17, 1971
G. Floyd Steele, January 16, 1973
John Todd, February 24, 1971
Mark Torfeh, March 8, 1973
An Wang, October 29, 1970*
James Wilkinson, June 27, 1973
Philip Wolfe, November 28, 1972
Way Dang Woo, October 28, 1970
William W. Woodbury, January 15, 1973
Pat Youtz, January 26, 1970
Everett C. Yowell, September 25, 1972
Heinz Zemanek, December 12, 1972


History

The Computer Oral History Collection (1969-1973, 1977), was a cooperative project of the American Federation of Information Processing Societies (AFIPS) and the Smithsonian Institution. This project began in 1967 with the main objective to collect, document, house, and make available for research source material surrounding the development of the computer. The project collected taped oral interviews with individuals who figured prominently in developing or advancing the computer field and supplemental written documentation--working papers, reports, drawings, and photographs. The AFIPS provided the "seed" money to support the project and to aid the Smithsonian with its expenditures. Interviews were conducted by I.B. Cohen, A. Dettinger, Bonnie Kaplan, Elizabeth Luebbert, William Luebbert, Robina Mapstone, Richard Mertz, Uta Merzbach, and Henry Tropp. In some instances, the audio tapes and/or transcripts are not "formal" interviews, but rather moderated panel discussions/meetings, or lectures delivered by interviewees.


Scope and Content Note

This collection consists of approximately 43.5 cubic feet of material and is divided into six series:
1. Transcripts
2. Supplemental Documentation
3. Patents
4. John Vincent Atanasoff Materials
5. Audio Tapes
6. Video Tapes

For a brief overview of the interview contents and for biographical information on the interviewees, researchers should consult the interview abstracts available in the full finding aid in Archives Center reading room.

Abstracts

For a brief overview of the interview contents and for biographical information on the interviewees, researchers should consult the interview abstracts. Not all interviews have abstracts.

Abstracts A-D
Abstracts E-G
Abstracts H
Abstracts I-M
Abstracts N-R
Abstracts S-Z

Series 1. Transcripts, 1969-1973, 1977

Go to container list for Series 1

Subseries A. Combined Index, 1986
The combined index to the oral histories is only a partial index to the entire collection of interviews conducted. Researchers should note that there are several interviews not included in this index. It is arranged alphabetically by last name of the interviewee and provides the date and length of the interview.

Subseries B. Research Copies, 1969-1973, 1977
This series consists of approximately 4 cu. ft. and reflects all of the individuals, organizations, lectures, and/or meetings interviewed for this project and the date of the interview if known. Although the bulk dates indicate 1969-1973, there is one interview from 1955 and one from as late as 1977. In some instances there is no transcript of the interview and this is noted in the container list with a parenthetical (NT). Transcriptions were made by different individuals over a long period of time. Interviewees were afforded the opportunity to make edits, which were incorporated into the final transcripts. Additionally, the abbreviation of n.d. has been used to indicate "no date." The interviews are arranged alphabetically by the last name of the interviewee. Where there is more than one interview with the same person on different dates, a separate entry has been made. A cross-reference of "see" has also been used to link interviews where there was more than one participant and to indicate the principal name under which the interview filed. Abstracts of the interviews contain the name of the interviewee(s)and interviewer, as well as the date on which the interviews occurred, if known.

Series 2: Supplemental Documentation, 1922-1974

Go to container list for Series 2

Subseries A: Robina Mapstone Files , 1946-1974
This series is arranged alphabetically and contains approximately 7.5 cu. ft. of supplemental research materials collected by Robina Mapstone, Research Associate of the Computer History Project. This series contains articles, correspondence (photocopies), memoranda, biographical sketch material, selected bibliographies on various aspects of the computer field, professional literature related to and authored by specific interviewees, specifications on selected computers, and product literature. Mapstone built in cross references (see and see also) in the files to facilitate locating information. These files should be used in conjunction with Subseries B: Richard Mertz Files and Subseries C: Henry Tropp Files which also contain additional biographical materials. It should be noted that not all interviewees are represented, but may have material collected in their name under an organization such as RAND Corporation. In some instances, the histories contain a listing or index of materials received. This listing was compiled by Mapstone to facilitate research. Substantial numbers of photographs exist in the William Gunning files (RAND, REAC Operating Console, JOHNNIAC, Zephyr, Selectron, Multiplier Quotient Register, and the RAND Building itself to name a few); Air Force supply problems and ALWAC III photographs can be found in the Vincent Neisius files; and transparencies of North American are with the Jack Strong materials. Some photographs are also scattered throughout reports.

Subseries B: Richard Mertz Files, 1942-1971
This series represents materials collected by Richard Mertz during the course of his research and then subsequently given to the Computer Oral History Project. The materials consist of one cubic foot of biographical materials (curriculum vitae, obituaries, biographical sketches), relating to oral interviews, printed documentation, correspondence, papers, reports, and notes. The arrangement is alphabetical (Appendix A through Appendix C.) Each appendix includes an itemized listing of what it contains and this listing can be found in box 1, folder 1 of this series. These materials should also be used in conjunction with Subseries A: Robina Mapstone Files, 1946-1974 and Subseries C: Henry Tropp Files, 1922-1973.

Subseries C: Henry Tropp Files, 1922-1973
Collected by Tropp and referred to as the "H" Files, these materials consist of approximately 6 cu. ft. and span the years 1922 to 1973. Arranged alphabetically, these materials include articles authored by interviewees, bibliographies, product literature, and reports. Interviewees associated with a particular file are noted parenthetically.

Series 3: Patents, 1940-1973

Go to container list for Series 3

These files were presumably maintained by Henry Tropp for the purposes of research and in preparation of conducting oral history interviews. Arranged alphabetically by last name of the interviewee, this series is approximately 1 cubic foot. Provided is the name of the inventor, the name and/or type of invention, patent number, and date the patent was issued. In cases where there is more than one inventor, "et al." has been used and the patent listed under the primary patentee. Patents for individuals not associated with the oral history project are also listed.

Series 4: John Vincent Atanasoff's Materials, 1927-1968

Go to container list for Series 4

These materials were assembled by John V. Atanasoff--a subject of this oral history collection--and subsequently given to Uta Merzbach via Mrs. Atsiknoudas in 1972. Spanning the years 1927 to 1968, these materials consist of approximately one cubic foot. Atanasoff assembled these materials in response to the litigation of the Sperry-Rand Corporation vs. Honeywell and Sperry-Rand vs. CDC/Control Data Corporation, which began in 1967 regarding the rights to the patent for the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Automatic Computer (ENIAC). Primarily photocopies, these materials document the process by which Atanasoff and his colleague, Cliff Berry, created the first automatic electronic digital computer. J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly claimed to have invented it first. These files are arranged according to an outline--Index A to Index C-- developed by Atanasoff. Researchers should consult this guide to the documents. Some documents in this series bear numbers. This indicates that the document was introduced into the U.S. District Court case of Atanasoff in 1968 involving the Honeywell Inc. vs. Sperry-Rand Corp. and Illinois Scientific Developments Inc. Copies of Atanasoff's depositions, volumes 1-9, are also available.

Series 5: Audio Tapes, 1967-1974, 1977

Go to container list for Series 5

This series is divided into two smaller subseries--reference copies and originals. The reference copies consist of approximately 10 cu. ft. and the originals approximately 4 cu. ft. The majority of the audio tapes are on 5" reels. When not in a 5" format, interviews are on 7" reels or cassettes.

Series 6: Video Tapes, 1968-1972

Go to container list for Series 6

Consists of approximately 3 cu. ft. of material. These videos contain John Vincent Atanasoff's depositions, business of the Association for Computing Machinery, and Fortran IV Lectures.


Provenance

The Computer Oral History Collection was a cooperative project of the American Federation of Information Processing Societies (AFIPS) and the Smithsonian Institution. This project began in 1967 and was concluded in 1973. This collection was transferred to the Archives Center in approximately 1986 from the Division of Information, Technology & Society, formerly known as the Division of Electricity. Transfers still continue.


Related Collections

The Archives Center contains several "computer" related collections:

American National Standards Institute, 1969-1979
Association for Computing Machinery Collection, 1958-1978 (Washington, D.C., Chapter)
N.W. Ayer Advertsing Agency Records, 1889-1972
Paul Armer Collection, 1949-1970
Robert G. Chamberlain Numerical Control Collection, 1954-1984
J. Childs Numerical Control Collection, 1952-1970
Computer Standards Collection, 1958-1978
Computer World Smithsonian Awards Collection, 1989-2001
Data Processing Digest Collection, 1955-1974
Max Holland Machine Tool Industry Collection, c. 1941-1990
Grace Murray Hopper Collection, 1944-1965
Information Age Exhibition Records, 1979-1990
Institute for Advanced Study Computer Project Records, 1950-1957
Instrument Society of America Collection, 1911-1969
Odex I Walking Robot Collection, 1973-1986
Jacob Rabinow Papers, 1910-1917; 1947-1990
Terry M. Sachs Collection, 1965-1969
Scientists and Inventors Portrait File, c. 1950-1980
Share Numerical Analysis Project Records, 1964-1970
SHARE Records, c. 1954-1984
Cliff Shaw papers, c. 1954-1985
Society for the History of Technology (SHOT) Records, 1956-1992
Warshaw Collection of Business Americana, c. 1754-1965
Whirlwind I Computer Collection, 1945-1959
B.H. Worsley, 1946-1959

Within the National Museum of American History there are other related collections that may be found in the Division of Information, Technology & Society. These collections contain both artifacts and documents. Artifacts include: digital computing machines, automatic digital computers and electronic calculators, logic devices, card and tape processors, slide rules, integrators and integraphs, harmonic analyzers and synthesizers, differential analyzers, other analog computing devices, space measurement and representation, time measurement, and combination space and time measurement. Documentation includes the Electronic Computers History Collection and the Mathematical Devices History Collection. Photographs and video materials can also be found. The Smithsonian Institution Archives contains administrative documentation regarding the Computer History Project.


Acronyms

ABC Atanasoff-Berry Computer
ACE Automatic Computing Engine
ACM Association for Computing Machinery
ALGOL ALGOLrithmic Language
ALWAC Axel Wenner-Gren Automatic Computer
ARPA Advanced Research Projects Agency
BACAIC Boeing Airplane Company Algebraic Interpretative Computing System
BARK Binar Automatisk Rela Kalkylator
BINAC Binary Automatic Computer
BIZMAC Business Machine
BMEW Ballistic Missile Early Warning (System)
BUIC Back-up Interceptor Control
CADAC Cambridge Digital Automatic Computer
CALDIC California Digital Computer
CEC Consolidated Electrodynamics Corporation
CEIR Council for Economic and Industry Research
COBOL Common Business-Oriented Language
CODASYL Conference on Data Systems Languages
CONAC Continental Automatic Command
COMTRAN Commercial Translator
CPC Card Programmed Calculator
CRC Computer Response Corporation
DARPA Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
DINA Digital Network Analyzer
DDA Digital Differential Analyzer
EDSAC Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator
EDVAC Electronic Discrete Variable Automatic Computer
EAM Electric [or Electronic] Accounting Machines [or Methods]
ENIAC Electronic Numerical Integrator and Automatic Computer
ERA Engineering Research Associates
ERMA Electronic Recording and Machine Accounting
FADAC Field Artillery Data Computer
FSQ Fixed Special eQuipment
IAS Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton University)
ICBM Intercontinental Ballistic Missile
ILLIAC Illinois Automatic Computer
INTERCOM Intercommunication System (Programming Language)
JOHNNIAC John [von Neumann's ] Integrator and Automatic Computer
JOSS Johnniac [John's Integrator and Automatic Computer] Open Shop System
LARK Livermore Atomic Research Computer
LAS Laboratories of Applied Science
LGP Librascope
MAC Magnetic Automatic Calculator/Multiple Access Computer
MADDIDA Magnetic Drum Digital Differential Analyzer
MAGIC Machine for Automatic Graphics Interface to a Computer
MANIAC Mathematical Analyzer, Numerical Integrator, and Computer
MIDAC Michigan [University of] Digital Automatic Computer
MIDSAC Michigan [University of} Digital Special Automatic Computer
MINAC Minimal Automatic Computer
MIT Massachusetts Institute of Technology
MITRE Massachusetts Institute of Technology Research Establishment
MX Missile, Experimental
NATDAN North American Digital Anaylzer
NATPAC North American Programmed Automatic Computer
NDRC National Defense Research Committee [of Office of Scientific Research and Development, World War II]
NELIAC Naval Electronics Laboratory International Algebraic Compiler
NORC Naval Ordnance Research Calculator [or computer] [Naval Ordnance Proving Ground]
NTDS Naval Tactical Data Systems
ONR Office of Naval Research
ORACLE Oak Ridge Automatic Computer and Logical Engine
ORDVAC Ordnance Discrete Variable Automatic Computer [AEC]
OSRD Office of Standard Reference Data [National Bureau of Standards]
PACT Project for the Advancement of Coding Techniques
QUAC Quadratic Arc Computer
RAMAC Random Access Memory Accounting Machine
RAYDAC Raytheon Digital Automatic Computer
REAC Reeves Electronic Analog Computer
RECOMP Reliable COMPuter
RESISTOR Reusable Surface Insulation Stresses [NASA computer program]
SCERT Systems and Computer Evaluation Review Technique
SCM Smith Corona Merchant
SEAC U.S. Bureau of Standards Eastern Automatic Computer
SHARE Society to Help Avoid Redundant Effort
SHOT Society for the History of Technology
SIAM Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics
SILLIAC Sydney [version of the ] Illiac
SIMSCRIPT Simulation Script
SNOBOL String-Oriented Symbolic Language
SSEC Selective Sequence Electronic Calculator
SUBROC Submarine Rocket
SWAC U.S. Bureau of Standards Western Automatic Computer
TPM Tape Processing Machine
UDEC United Digital Electronic Computer
UNIVAC Universal Automatic Computer
WEIZAC Weizmann Automatic Computer [at Weizmann Institute]
WISC Wisconsin Integrally Synchronized Computer


Series 1 | Series 2 | Series 3 | Series 4| Series 5 | Series 6

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Last Update: 25 Mar 2011

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