History of Supercomputing

Panel 1 -- 1939-1945

timeline only

With roots in the Manhattan project, the Department of Energy (then called the Atomic Energy Commisssion) was active in the 1940's and 1950's in getting early computers to work. DOE was committed to the development and advancement of computing capabilities in order to tackle problems of critical interest to the nation. After all, before digital computers were available to the labs, "computer" was a job title. Parallel computing was done by rows and columns of mathematicians. The size and type of problems that could be solved in this manner were limited.

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1939 Atanasoff-Berry Computer created at Iowa State

ABC images from Ames: ABC--1st computer
surviving equipment: drum DRAM memory, manual card punch
supplies gathered for 1996 reconstruction: vacuum tubes, tubes and switches
1940 Konrad Zuse -Z2 uses telephone relays instead of mechanical logical circuits
1943 Collossus - British vacuum tube computer
1944 Grace Hopper, Mark I Programmer (Harvard Mark I)
1945 First Computer "Bug" , Vannevar Bush "As we may think"

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