What Happened Today, December 8th

The back cover of the UNIVAC brochure
The back cover of the UNIVAC brochure
 
The Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corp. Is Incorporated

The Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation is incorporated. After a dispute with the administration at the University of Pennsylvania over ENIAC patent rights, J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly started the company that, after several mergers, produced the BINAC for Northrop Aircraft and the UNIVAC. Grace Murray Hopper joined Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corp. as a senior mathematician in 1949. In 1950, before completing the UNIVAC, the company became a division of Remington Rand, IBM’s main challenger throughout the 1970s.

What Happened This Week

 
The First PhD Dissertation in Computer Science Is Presented

Richard L.Wexelblat was the first candidate in a computer science program to complete a dissertation. Many PhD candidates had performed computer-related work, but Wexelblat’s diploma, presented by the University of Pennsylvania - the home of the ENIAC - was the first one to carry the designation "computer science."

J. Barkley Rosser
J. Barkley Rosser
 
Mathematical Logician Rosser Born

J. Barkley Rosser is born in Jaksonville, Florida. In 1934 Rosser received a PhD in logic from Princeton under the supervision of Alonso Church. Rosser was able to anticipate the potential of early computers in many areas of mathematics as well as the ultimate impact of logic on the future of computing. He contributed to the Church-Rosser theorem that identifies the outer limit of what is achievable in automated theorem proving and, therefore, plays the same role in computing science as the second law of thermodynamics in engineering.

Rosser taught at Cornell and the University of Wisconsin, served as a president of the Association of Symbolic Logic and SIAM. He died on September 5, 1989.

Napster logo
Napster logo
 
The Recording Industry Association of America Sues Napster

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) files a lawsuit against Napster, alleging that the music file sharing service is enabling the theft of multi-million dollar profits from the record labels. Shawn Fanning, the face of Napster, had co-founded the peer-to-peer file sharing service only several months before with Sean Parker and John Fanning. The court case directed significant attention to the company, and millions of users increasingly shared and transferred copyrighted MP3 music files, fueling the ire of the music industry. Although very popular, Napster went bankrupt, and the RIAA and Big Music focused their attention on Bertelsmann, the German media group that had purchased Napster’s assets after it had filed for bankruptcy. Bertelsmann settled with the plaintiffs for several multi-million dollar payments.

The back cover of the UNIVAC brochure
The back cover of the UNIVAC brochure
 
The Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corp. Is Incorporated

The Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation is incorporated. After a dispute with the administration at the University of Pennsylvania over ENIAC patent rights, J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly started the company that, after several mergers, produced the BINAC for Northrop Aircraft and the UNIVAC. Grace Murray Hopper joined Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corp. as a senior mathematician in 1949. In 1950, before completing the UNIVAC, the company became a division of Remington Rand, IBM’s main challenger throughout the 1970s.

USS Hopper
USS Hopper
 
Computer Pioneer Grace Hopper Born

Grace Murray Hopper, one of the first women to work on the computer, is born in New York City. Hopper, a rear admiral in US Navy, did significant work on the Harvard Mark II, where she discovered the first computer bug -- a moth -- and coined the term to mean a problem with a program. Hopper went on to develop the first compiler, A-0, and the programming language COBOL. She died on January 1, 1992.

Grace Hopper was honored by having an advanced US Navy warship named after her, the USS Hopper, launched in mid-1997.

Augusta Ada King, Lady Lovelace
Augusta Ada King, Lady Lovelace
 
Ada, Lady Lovelace, Born

Augusta Ada King, Lady Lovelace, is born. Her father was Lord Byron, the famous poet. She was educated by private tutors including advanced study in mathematics being provided by the famous mathematician Augustus De Morgan. Ada worked with Charles Babbage writing extensive comments on his Difference Engine and Analytical Engine, and programming for the last one. She died on November 27, 1852.

A century later, in the 1970s, the computer language ADA was developed and named after Ada, Lady Lovelace. Based on the language PASCAL, ADA is a general-purpose language designed to be readable and easily maintained.

The Williams tube
The Williams tube
 
Frederick Williams Receives Patent for Memory Device

A patent is issued for Sir Frederick Williams' device for random-access memory. The Williams tube was a modified cathode-ray tube that painted dots and dashes of phosphorescent electrical charge on a screen representing binary ones and zeros. It became the primary memory for vacuum tube machines such as the IBM 701. Williams developed his device at Manchester University.