Go To: The Story of the Math Majors, Bridge Players, Engineers, Chess Wizards, Maverick Scientists, and Iconoclasts, the Programmers Who Created the Software Revolution

By Steve Lohr | Go to book overview
Save to active project

2
FORTRAN: The Early
"Turning Point"

BY AUGUST 1952, IBM's SLEEK NEW COMPUTER, the Defense Calculator, was ready for a road test. A half-dozen customers had placed orders - the Los Alamos nuclear weapons laboratory, Douglas Aircraft, Lockheed Aircraft, and a few others - and they were summoned to IBM's Poughkeepsie plant to get an early glimpse of what the machine could do. Computing was in its infancy, just a step or so beyond a laboratory experiment. Interest in the electronic behemoths came mainly from the Pentagon and its private-sector relation, the emerging aerospace industry. Their interest was primarily in using the giant machines to automate the tedious process of producing scientific calculations by hand - row upon row of office workers cranking away on desktop calculators. Only gradually would it be recognized that computers were capable of being far more than big adding machines - that, when properly programmed, computers could be used as tools for exploring new frontiers of knowledge.

The impetus for the Defense Calculator came from the Korean War. The Korean conflict, begun in 1950, lent urgency to the push for new planes and weapons that would operate at higher speeds, higher temperatures, and with greater precision. Designing and producing them meant another surge in demand for engineering calculations, only five years after the end of World War II. The Pentagon and its corporate suppliers were sophisticated customers with deep pockets, but they were few. And it was not yet clear that there would be

-11-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Go To: The Story of the Math Majors, Bridge Players, Engineers, Chess Wizards, Maverick Scientists, and Iconoclasts, the Programmers Who Created the Software Revolution
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 250

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?