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Update -- was re: possible find

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  • Evan Koblentz
    The report arrived today. It s not what I hoped/thought, re: anything clearly related to Camp Evans, but it s still very interesting and could still lead to
    Message 1 of 2 , Oct 7, 2010
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      The report arrived today. It's not what I hoped/thought, re: anything clearly related to Camp Evans, but it's still very interesting and could still lead to new things about Camp Evans if I dig deep enough.

      The report explains how, starting in 1950, the Moore School started building a new computer as commissioned by the Signal Corps. This computer was supposed to be a clone of EDVAC (Moore School's successor to ENIAC). But as time went by, the new computer -- MSAC; "Moore School Automatic Computer" -- evolved into its own design.

      Part of MSAC's design included reliability features from the National Bureau of Standard's SEAC.

      By the end of 1953, with MSAC around 85% completed, funding ceased, and (from what I can see) that was the end of MSAC.

      That is the gist of the 95-page report from 1954. Most of the pages are technical details about the computer works. Only a few pages are background information.

      I have two theories about possible Camp Evans connections.

      First is the funding. Camp Evans was only one part of the larger "Signal Corps Engineering Laboratories" at Fort Monmouth. Usually, the Signal Corps technical reports include a long list of people and offices that were cc'd; I expected this report to include some Evans people. Oddly, this report doesn't have any cc: list at all. (Next I'll check with the Fort archivists, who are always friendly and helpful to Fred and I. Hopefully they'll help me determine exactly * which * parts of SCEL funded MSAC.)

      The second possible angle is MODIDIC / Fieldata. The timing of MSAC's cancellation matches that of SEAC's successor, DYSEAC. DYSEAC was also built by NBS (in Washington D.C.) but its customer was the Signal Corps (in White Sands, N.M.). The Signal Corps computer * after * DYSEAC was Camp Evans' MOBIDIC.

      Watts Humphrey, who worked on MOBIDIC/Fieldata and keynoted VCF East a few years ago, may be a valuable source for more background on this. He indicated in his 1987 article for the "IEEE Annals of the History of Computing" that Camp Evans was a prime location of Signal Corps computer research * before * MOBIDIC. If that's true, then it could well mean Camp Evans had some role in MSAC. That's plausible because Evans already had a working relationship (use of differential analyzers) with the Moore School.

      So, I have legwork to do, which is good because I enjoy that sort of thing. As they said on The X Files, "The truth is out there" -- I just have to find all the evidence and put it together.

      If I'm right about Evans having a role in MSAC, it won't be any big deal in computer history, but it would be important for MARCH and InfoAge (just like the possible Evans-radar-ENIAC connection.) It's common knowledge that the Army Ordnance department started the funding for ENIAC; perhaps it was the Signal Corps / Evans that * ended * the Moore School's glory years in computer history.
    • B Degnan
      ... Thanks for the interesting research. Bill
      Message 2 of 2 , Oct 7, 2010
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        Evan Koblentz wrote:
        > The report arrived today. It's not what I hoped/thought, re: anything clearly related to Camp Evans, but it's still very interesting and could still lead to new things about Camp Evans if I dig deep enough.
        > <snip>
        >
        > If I'm right about Evans having a role in MSAC, it won't be any big deal in computer history, but it would be important for MARCH and InfoAge (just like the possible Evans-radar-ENIAC connection.) It's common knowledge that the Army Ordnance department started the funding for ENIAC; perhaps it was the Signal Corps / Evans that * ended * the Moore School's glory years in computer history.
        >
        > ------------------------------------
        >
        >
        Thanks for the interesting research.

        Bill
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