Computer Systems Technology

American Journal of Computer Science and Information Technology (AJCSIT) is an intercontinental free access, peer reviewed journal. The Control Data Corporation (CDC) 6600 performs up to 3 million instructions per second —three times faster than that of its closest competitor, the IBM 7030 supercomputer. The 6600 retained the distinction of being the fastest computer in the world until surpassed by its successor, the CDC 7600, in 1968. Part of the speed came from the computer´s design, which used 10 small computers, known as peripheral processing units, to offload the workload from the central processor.

Physicist Stan Frankel, intrigued by small, general-purpose computers, developed the MINAC at Caltech. The Librascope division of defense contractor General Precision buys Frankel’s design, renaming it the LGP-30 in 1956. Used for science and engineering as well as simple data processing, the LGP-30 was a bargain” at less than $50,000 and an early example of a ‘personal computer,’ that is, a computer made for a single user.

An inspiring summer school on computing at the University of Pennsylvania´s Moore School of Electrical Engineering stimulates construction of stored-program computers at universities and research institutions in the US, France, the UK, and Germany. Among the lecturers were early computer designers like John von Neumann, Howard Aiken, J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly, as well as mathematicians including Derrick Lehmer, George Stibitz, and Douglas Hartree. Students included future computing pioneers such as Maurice Wilkes, Claude Shannon, David Rees, and Jay Forrester. This free, public set of lectures inspired the EDSAC, BINAC, and, later, IAS machine clones like the AVIDAC.

Daniel Hillis of Thinking Machines Corporation moves artificial intelligence a step forward when he develops the controversial concept of massive parallelism in the Connection Machine CM-1. The machine used up to 65,536 one-bit processors and could complete several billion operations per second. Each processor had its own small memory linked with others through a flexible network that users altered by reprogramming rather than rewiring. The machine´s system of connections and switches let processors broadcast information and requests for help to other processors in a simulation of brain-like associative recall. Using this system, the machine could work faster than any other at the time on a problem that could be parceled out among the many processors.

At MIT, researchers begin experimenting with direct keyboard input to computers, a precursor to today´s normal mode of operation. Typically, computer users of the time fed their programs into a computer using punched cards or paper tape. Doug Ross wrote a memo advocating direct access in February. Ross contended that a Flexowriter – an electrically-controlled typewriter – connected to an MIT computer could function as a keyboard input device due to its low cost and flexibility. An experiment conducted five months later on the MIT Whirlwind computer confirmed how useful and convenient a keyboard input device could be.