Artifact Details


Graham, Martin oral history

Catalog Number







Graham, Martin, Interviewee
McJones, Paul, Videographer
Peuto, Bernard L., Interviewer


Computer History Museum

Place of Publication

Mountain View, California


44 p.



Copyright Holder

Computer History Museum


Martin H. Graham designed the Rice R1 computer while a professor at Rice University from 1957 to 1966. Graham was born in Jamaica, Long Island, New York in 1926. He entered Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn at the age of 16, but was drafted two years later, in 1944, serving as a Navy electronics technician until 1946, and then returning to Brooklyn Poly to complete his bachelor’s degree. He completed a master’s degree in engineering science and applied physics at Harvard, then left Harvard’s graduate program, taught briefly at Brooklyn Poly, and accepted a position at Brookhaven National Laboratory, where he conducted research for a PhD that was granted by Brooklyn Poly. Graham remained at Brookhaven until 1957, designing instrumentation using both analog and digital circuits. He was involved with Brookhaven’s Merlin computer, consulted with the University of Chicago on the design of the MANIAC II computer, and then accepted an offer from Rice University to build the R1 computer. Graham stayed at Rice until 1966, when he accepted joint appointments at the University of California at Berkeley as associate director of the Computer Center and as a professor of electrical engineering. He joined the new computer science department (in the College of Letters and Science) in 1967. In 1971 he became department chairman and initiated a review committee that ultimately led to the reorganization of computer science as a semiautonomous division with the department of EECS in the College of Engineering. Graham retired in 1994.

The main topics of the interview include Graham’s childhood, military service, and education, his time at Brookhaven, his decision to go to Rice and design the R1 computer, his reflections on the design, use, and impact of the R1 (including its influence on Robert Barton and the Burroughs B5000), his move to Berkeley, the creation of the Computer Science Department, and his design of a terminal multiplexor for the CDC 6400. An additional topic includes Graham’s recent work on a noise-tolerant modulation technique.




Merlin (Computer); MANIAC II (Computer); Rice R1 (Computer); R1 instruction format; R1 data tags; R1 indirect addressing; Control Data Corporation (CDC) 6400 (Computer); University of Chicago; Atomic Energy Commission (AEC); Shell Oil Company; Burroughs Corporation; MacLean, William R.; Higinbotham , William A.; Salsburg, Zevi; Kilpatrick, John; Biedenharn, Larry; Pasta, John R.; Metropolis, Nicholas Constantine; Cyprus, Joel Howard; Barton, Robert Stanley (Bob); Taub, Abraham Haskel; Evans, David; Sutherland, Ivan; Zadeh, Lotfali Askar (Lotfi); Pirtle, Melvin Wiley; Lampson, Butler; Deutsch, L. Peter; Wheeler, David

Collection Title

Oral history collection

Lot Number