Charles Babbage Institute

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Prompted by the wartime need for rapid, complex mathematical calculations, the United States government became heavily involved in computer research and development during World War II. Government agencies including the US Navy, the National Bureau of Standards, and NASA continued to sponsor computer research and development projects in the post-war period, many still related to military applications. Early government investment in computer technologies provided a basis for the nascent computer industry. Government agencies and the research institutions with which they collaborated generated a wide variety of reports, manuals, and other documentation.

From the guide to the United States government computing collection, circa 1945-1990, (University of Minnesota Libraries. Charles Babbage Institute. [cbi])

Computer research and development at academic research institutions in the United States intensified during World War II, prompted by the United States government's wartime need for rapid, complex mathematical calculations. The nation's research institutions continued computer research and development projects into the Cold War years, many still supported by the government and related to military applications. Universities are often identified with certain developments in information processing. For example, the first real-time text / graphic display was developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for the Whirlwind computer; the Aloha protocol for radio packet switching was developed for the University of Hawaii's ALOHA system. Research institutions and the government agencies that sponsored them generated a wide variety of reports, manuals, and other documentation.

From the guide to the Academic computing collection, circa 1950-1985, (University of Minnesota Libraries. Charles Babbage Institute. [cbi])

From the early 1950s, companies and professional organizations began to create taxonomies to standardize the language used to describe computing and software. These reference works were most often in the form of glossaries.

From the guide to the Information Processing Glossaries, 1943-1991, (University of Minnesota Libraries. Charles Babbage Institute. [cbi])

Prompted by the wartime need for rapid, complex mathematical calculations, the United States government became heavily involved computer research and development during World War II. Government agencies including the US Navy, the National Bureau of Standards, and NASA continued to sponsor computer research and development projects in the post-war period, many still related to military applications. Early government investment in computer technologies provided a basis for the nascent computer industry. Government agencies and the research institutions with which they collaborated generated a wide variety of reports, manuals, and other documentation.

From the description of United States government computing collection, ca. 1945-1983. (University of Minnesota, Minneapolis). WorldCat record id: 62481520

During the 1970s and 1980s, all types of computing communities began to print and distribute informal serial publications concerning software, mini-and micro computing,. Many of these publications were short lived - some survived for only an issue or two - and most were produced in small quantities. These materials, with their unusual artwork and printing techniques have become interesting artifacts themselves, while providing today’s researchers with an "alternative" perspective on developments in computing and software during those decades.

From the guide to the Uncataloged serials, 1948-1999, (University of Minnesota Libraries. Charles Babbage Institute. [cbi])

Glossaries collected by the Charles Babbage Institute.

From the description of Information processing glossaries, 1953-[ongoing]. (University of Minnesota, Minneapolis). WorldCat record id: 62685525

This collection has been formed at the Charles Babbage Institute to readily accommodate numerous accessions related to computing outside the United States.

From the description of International computer literature, ca. 1950-[ongoing]. (University of Minnesota, Minneapolis). WorldCat record id: 63295578

Charles Babbage was a prominent 19th century British mathematician, inventor, and philosopher.

From the description of Charles Babbage collection, 1815-1981 (bulk 1815-1863). (University of Minnesota, Minneapolis). WorldCat record id: 63306905

By 1948, computer manufacturers prepared printed materials - product literature -- to advertise and explicate their products to potential customers. Product literature was created for an audience of government agencies, corporations, and later, individuals.

From the description of Computer product literature, 1948-[ongoing]. (University of Minnesota, Minneapolis). WorldCat record id: 63284948

By the late 1940s, corporations, research institutes, government agencies, and others had begun to compile and publish reference works in the form of bibliographies on automation and computing.

From the guide to the Information Processing Bibliographies, 1947-1985, (University of Minnesota Libraries. Charles Babbage Institute. [cbi])

Engineering Research Associates (ERA) was founded in 1946 in an effort to continue the work of a classified war-time Navy cryptology unit called Communications Supplementary Activity -Washington (CSAW). A technological group, headed by former CSAW supervisors Howard T. Engstrom and William C. Norris, and former head of the Naval Computing Machine Laboratory Ralph I. Meader, joined with investment banker John Parker to establish the company. Parker was the former head of Northwestern Aeronautical Corporation (NAC), a St. Paul, Minnesota firm that made gliders during World War II. ERA established a small office in Arlington, Virginia, but the majority of ERA's workforce was located in the former NAC facility in St. Paul.ERA became a division of Remington Rand in 1952. In 1955, Remington Rand and the Sperry Corporation merged to become the Sperry Rand Corporation and ERA became part of the company's Univac Division.Bibliography"Engineering Research Associates: The wellspring of Minnesota's computer industry" (St. Paul: Sperry Communications Dept., 1986).Tomash, Erwin and Arnold E. Cohen. "The Birth of ERA: Engineering Research Associates Inc. 1946-1955." In Annals of the History of Computing 1:2 (October 1979).

From the description of Engineering Research Associates (ERA)-Remington Rand-Sperry Rand records 1945-1988. (University of Minnesota, Minneapolis). WorldCat record id: 311749792

Collection of product manuals from computer companies organized by the Charles Babbage Institute.

From the description of Computer product manuals, ca. 1948-[ongoing]. (University of Minnesota, Minneapolis). WorldCat record id: 62424049

This collection has been formed at the Charles Babbage Institute to readily accommodate numerous small accessions related to academic computing by a number of individuals and institutions.

From the description of Academic computing collection, ca.1950-1985. (University of Minnesota, Minneapolis). WorldCat record id: 62429870

This collection was formed at the Charles Babbage Institute to readily accommodate numerous accessions of reports by consulting firms related to computer hardware, software, systems, and the computer industry by a number of individuals and institutions.

From the description of Market and product reports collection, 1963-[ongoing]. (University of Minnesota, Minneapolis). WorldCat record id: 63283034

Bibliographies collected by the Charles Babbage Institute.

From the description of Information processing bibliographies, 1947-[ongoing]. (University of Minnesota, Minneapolis). WorldCat record id: 62685524

Engineering Research Associates (ERA) was founded in 1946 in an effort to continue the work of a classified war-time Navy cryptology unit called Communications Supplementary Activity -Washington (CSAW). A technological group, headed by former CSAW supervisors Howard T. Engstrom and William C. Norris, and former head of the Naval Computing Machine Laboratory Ralph I. Meader, joined with investment banker John Parker to establish the company. Parker was the former head of Northwestern Aeronautical Corporation (NAC), a St. Paul, Minnesota firm that made gliders during World War II. ERA established a small office in Arlington, Virginia, but the majority of ERA's workforce was located in the former NAC facility in St. Paul.

ERA became a division of Remington Rand in 1952. In 1955, Remington Rand and the Sperry Corporation merged to become the Sperry Rand Corporation and ERA became part of the company's Univac Division.

Bibliography "Engineering Research Associates: The wellspring of Minnesota's computer industry" (St. Paul: Sperry Communications Dept., 1986). Tomash, Erwin and Arnold E. Cohen. "The Birth of ERA: Engineering Research Associates Inc. 1946-1955." In Annals of the History of Computing 1:2 (October 1979).

Warren P. Burrell

Warren P. Burrell graduated from the University of Minnesota with a BEE in 1948 and joined Engineering Research Associates as an assistant engineer working in computer development that same year. Burrell was involved in such projects as the ERA 1101, ERA 1103, the UNIVAC File Computer, NIKE-X, and XU-71.

John Lindsay Hill

John Lindsay Hill graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology with a BSEE in 1930. He worked as project engineer for Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing before joining Engineering Research Associates as an electrical engineer in 1946. At ERA, Hill supervised development of the ERA 1101 and several other projects including a message storage and relay system for stored flight plans using magnetic drums for the Civil Aeronautics Administration. In 1956, Hill was placed in charge of the UNIVAC project. Later he worked for Ramsey Engineering.

Jay A. Kershaw

Jay A. Kershaw graduated from the University of Minnesota with a BEE in 1950. He joined ERA in 1951 as an electrical engineer in computer development. Kershaw worked on development of magnetic recording techniques and materials, and the Logistics Computer. He became peripherals manager for the Naval Tactical Data System (NTDS) project in the early 1960s. Kershaw left Sperry Univac to work in management for Control Data Corporation and later for Control Data's subsidiary, Control Data Worldtech.

From the guide to the Engineering Research Associates (ERA)-Remington Rand-Sperry Rand records, 1945-1988, (University of Minnesota Libraries. Charles Babbage Institute. [cbi])

Charles Babbage is often called the "father of computing", though there is no evidence that modern electronic computers are direct descendants of his work. He acquired this title mainly because his Difference Engine (1821), which printed tables of polynomials, and his Analytical Engine (1856), which was intended as a general symbol manipulator, were inventions far more complex than the work of any of his contemporaries.

Unfortunately, little remains of Babbage’s prototype computing machines. One reason is that critical tolerances required by Babbage’s machines exceeded the level of technology available at the time. Also, though formal recognition of his work was tendered by respected institutions such as the Astronomical Society of London, the British government suspended funding for his Difference Engine in 1832, and after an agonizing waiting period, finally killed the project in 1842. Thus, there remain only fragments of Babbage’s prototype Difference Engine, and though he devoted most of his time and large fortune towards construction of his Analytical Engine after 1856, he never succeeded in completing any of his several designs for it. George Scheutz, a Swedish printer, successfully constructed a machine based on the designs for Babbage’s Difference Engine in 1854. This machine printed mathematical, astronomical and actuarial tables with unprecedented accuracy, and was used by the British and American governments. Though Babbage’s work was continued by his son, Henry Prevost Babbage, after his death in 1871, the Analytical Engine was never successfully completed, and ran only a few “programs” with embarrassingly obvious errors.

Babbage’s contributions to science also include his work as a mathematician and his reform of the teaching of mathematics in British universities. He also attempted to reform the scientific organizations of the period while calling upon government and society to give more money and prestige to scientific endeavor.

From the guide to the Charles Babbage collection, 1815-1981, (bulk 1815-1863), (University of Minnesota Libraries. Charles Babbage Institute. [cbi])

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Information Processing Glossaries, 1943-1991 University of Minnesota Libraries. Charles Babbage Institute. [cbi]
referencedIn Auerbach, Isaac L. (Isaac Levin), 1921-1992. Isaac L. Auerbach Papers, 1948-1987. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
creatorOf Charles Babbage Institute Reference Files, 1950-2009 University of Minnesota Libraries. Charles Babbage Institute. [cbi]
creatorOf Academic computing collection, circa 1950-1985 University of Minnesota Libraries. Charles Babbage Institute. [cbi]
referencedIn Tomash, Adelle,. Oral history interview with Adelle Tomash, 2000 Dec. 7. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
creatorOf International computing collection, 1939-1996 University of Minnesota Libraries. Charles Babbage Institute. [cbi]
creatorOf Charles Babbage Institute oral history collection, 1979-1991 Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
creatorOf Charles Babbage collection, 1815-1981, (bulk 1815-1863) University of Minnesota Libraries. Charles Babbage Institute. [cbi]
creatorOf Charles Babbage Institute. Information processing bibliographies, 1947-[ongoing]. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
creatorOf Aspray, William. Role of DARPA/IPTO in the development of computer science oral history collection, 1989-1991. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
creatorOf Charles Babbage Institute. Charles Babbage collection, 1815-1981 (bulk 1815-1863). University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
creatorOf Engineering Research Associates (ERA)-Remington Rand-Sperry Rand records, 1945-1988 University of Minnesota Libraries. Charles Babbage Institute. [cbi]
creatorOf Charles Babbage Institute. United States government computing collection, ca. 1945-1983. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
creatorOf Charles Babbage Institute. Engineering Research Associates (ERA)-Remington Rand-Sperry Rand records 1945-1988. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
referencedIn Isaac L. Auerbach papers, 1948-1987, bulk 1957-1987 University of Minnesota Libraries. Charles Babbage Institute. [cbi]
creatorOf Information Processing Bibliographies, 1947-1985 University of Minnesota Libraries. Charles Babbage Institute. [cbi]
creatorOf Charles Babbage Institute. Information processing glossaries, 1953-[ongoing]. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
creatorOf Charles Babbage Institute. Charles Babbage Institute Oral history collection, 1979-1991. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
creatorOf Charles Babbage Institute. Computer product literature, 1948-[ongoing]. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
creatorOf Charles Babbage Institute. Academic computing collection, ca.1950-1985. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
creatorOf Charles Babbage Institute. Market and product reports collection, 1963-[ongoing]. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
creatorOf Uncataloged serials, 1948-1999 University of Minnesota Libraries. Charles Babbage Institute. [cbi]
creatorOf Charles Babbage Institute. Computer product manuals, ca. 1948-[ongoing]. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
creatorOf Charles Babbage Institute. International computer literature, ca. 1950-[ongoing]. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
referencedIn Galler, Bernard A., 1928-. Oral history interview with Bernard A. Galler, 1991 Aug. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
referencedIn Michael S. Mahoney papers., 1923-2008 University of Minnesota Libraries. Charles Babbage Institute. [cbi]
creatorOf United States government computing collection, circa 1945-1990 University of Minnesota Libraries. Charles Babbage Institute. [cbi]
creatorOf National Science Foundation (U.S.). Computing History Project. Oral history collection, 1990. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
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associatedWith Auerbach Associates. corporateBody
associatedWith Auerbach, Isaac L. (Isaac Levin), 1921-1992. person
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associatedWith Automation Consultants, Inc. corporateBody
associatedWith Babbage, Charles, 1791-1871. person
associatedWith Babbage, Henry Prevost. person
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associatedWith Burrell, Warren P. person
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associatedWith Case Institute of Technology. Systems Research Center. corporateBody
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associatedWith Cerf, Vinton. person
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associatedWith Cornell University. corporateBody
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associatedWith Defense Documentation Center (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith Diebold Group. corporateBody
associatedWith EDP News Services. corporateBody
associatedWith Elliot Brothers Ltd. corporateBody
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associatedWith Feigenbaum, Edward A. person
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associatedWith Hill, John L. (John Lindsay), 1909- person
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Place Name Admin Code Country
Germany (West)
Great Britain
Germany (West)--Sources
United States
Great Britain
Soviet Union
Great Britain
Canada
Italy
United States
Australia
Sweden
United States
Minnesota
France
Subject
Medical sciences--Computer programs
Computers--Dictionaries
Computers--History--Sources
Computer industry--Forecasting
Ordvac computer
Computer science
Computer industry--Great Britain--History--Sources
Defense Documentation Center (U.S.)
Computer industry--Marketing
Inventions
Computers--Handbooks, manuals, etc
Programming languages (Electronic computers)--Dictionaries
Programming languages (Electronic computers)--Bibliography
Data transmission systems
Computer industry--Periodicals
Computers--Australia--History--Sources
Electronic data processing consultants
Machine translating--Bibliography
Computers--Sweden--History--Sources
Illiac computer
Data transmission systems--United States
Computer industry
Computer software--Handbooks, manuals, etc
Philosophers
Computation Laboratories--United States--History--Sources
Electronic data processing--Dictionaries--Spanish
Programming languages (Electronic computers)
Computer software--History--Sources
Computers--United States--History--Sources
Electronic data processing--Bibliography
Inventions--Great Britain
Calculators
Artificial intelligence
Computers--France--History--Sources
Ada (Computer program language)
Computers--Marketing
Whirlwind computer
Automatic control--Dictionaries
Univac computer
Electronic data processing--Dictionaries--English
Aloha system (Electronic computer system)
Inventors--Great Britain
FORTRAN (Computer program language)
Information storage and retrieval systems--Bibliography
Computer industry--United States--History--Sources
Computer user groups
Computers--Soviet Union--History--Sources
NASTRAN (Computer program)
Computers--Periodicals
Computers--Canada--History--Sources
Electronic data processing--Standards--Dictionaries
Computer graphics--Dictionaries
Mathematicians--Biography
Computers--Bibliography
Computer software--Marketing
Computers--Germany (West)--History--Sources
Computer industry--History--Sources
Computers--History
Computer industry--Minnesota
Information retrieval--Bibliography
Philosophers--Great Britain
Computation laboratories--History--Sources
Computers--Great Britain--History--Sources
Defense contracts
Computer industry--France--History--Sources
Computer industry--Handbooks, manuals, etc
Electronic data processing--Dictionaries--French
Computer industry--Germany (West)--History--Sources
Defense contracts--United States
Computer software industry--History--Sources
Inventors
Occupation
Function
Collectors

Corporate Body

Americans

English,

Spanish; Castilian,

French

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