Exhibits At the Museum

This Day in History

Today: July 31, 2014

March 8, 1955

Harbinger of Early Operating Systems, Whirlwind’s Director, is Demonstrated

Computer pioneer Douglas Ross demonstrates “Director” for MIT's Whirlwind computer. Director, which presaged operating systems for computers, gave instructions to the 4-year-old, 4,500 vacuum tube computer. The operating system resided on paper tape, and was a precursor to Job Control Language operating systems widely used in subsequent mainframe computing systems. Whirlwind’s design influenced many significant computing innovations, including IBM’s Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) computer and business and minicomputers of the 1960s.