What Happened Today, February 26th

 
SGI Buys Cray Research

Silicon Graphics Inc. buys Cray Research for $767 million, becoming the leading supplier of high-speed computing machines in the U.S. Over a forty year career, Cray founder Seymour Cray consistently produced most of the fastest computers in the world-- innovative, powerful supercomputers used in defense, meteorological, and scientific investigations.

What Happened This Week

 
Prime Number Theorist Derrick Lehmer Born

Derrick Lehmer, one of the world's best known prime number theorists, is born in Berkeley, California. Before World War II, Lehmer invented a number of electromechanical sieves for finding prime numbers and made many important contributions in prime number theory throughout his life. Prime numbers are of interest in themselves as mathematical curiosities but are also of great importance to cryptography. The Computer History Museum has three Lehmer sieves in its permanent collection. Lehmer died in 1991.

Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs
 
Apple Co-Founder Steve Jobs Born

Apple Computer co-founder Steve Jobs is born. Jobs was instrumental in developing the Macintosh, the computer that took Apple to unprecedented levels of success. After leaving the company he started with Steve Wozniak, Jobs continued his personal computer development at his NeXT Inc. In 1997, Jobs returned to Apple to lead the company into a new era based on NeXT technologies and consumer electronics. Some of Jobs’ achievements in this new era include the iMac, the iPhone, the iTunes music store, the iPod, and the iPad. Under Jobs’ leadership Apple was at one time the world’s most valuable company.

 
The APT Language Is Demonstrated

The Automatically Programmed Tools language is demonstrated. APT is an English-like language that tells tools how to work and is mainly used in computer-assisted manufacturing. A New Yorker article from March 28 observed: “The Air Force announced today that it has a machine that can receive instructions in English - figure out how to make whatever is wanted- and teach other machines how to make it. An Air Force general said it will enable the United States to build a war machine that nobody would want to tackle. Today it made an ashtray.”

 
SGI Buys Cray Research

Silicon Graphics Inc. buys Cray Research for $767 million, becoming the leading supplier of high-speed computing machines in the U.S. Over a forty year career, Cray founder Seymour Cray consistently produced most of the fastest computers in the world-- innovative, powerful supercomputers used in defense, meteorological, and scientific investigations.

IBM's Steve
IBM's Steve "Red" Dunwell (left, foreground) and Erich Bloch to his right, in front of IBM Stretch system.
 
National Security Agency's Harvest Computer Retires

The IBM 7950, a supercomputer also known as the Harvest System, ceased operating after 14 years serving the National Security Agency. The Harvest was a one-of-a-kind adjunct to the Stretch computer and was delivered in 1962. It was designed for cryptanalysis by James H. Pomerene. Its electronics, built from the same kind of discrete transistors used for Stretch, were about twice as big (physically) as the Stretch. Harvest added a small number of instructions to the Stretch, was attached to it, and could not operate independently.

 
MIT's Forrester Receives Patent on "Core" Memory

Jay Forrester at MIT is awarded a patent for his coincident current magnetic core memory. Forrester's invention, given Patent No. 2,736,880 for a "multicoordinate digital information storage device," became the standard memory device for digital computers until supplanted by solid state (semiconductor) RAM in the mid-1970s.

Herman Hollerith
Herman Hollerith
 
Herman Hollerith Born

Herman Hollerith is born. In 1890 he provided the mechanical means for tabulating the US Census data. His tabulating machines were later used for the analysis of censuses around the world before his machines were replaced by machines built by Powers. The company he founded, Tabulating Machines Company, was one of three that came together in 1914 to form C-T-R (Calculating, Tabulating, Recording) Co. that Thomas J. Watson, Sr. was to take over and rename as the IBM Corporation.