A review of postings about scientific integrity and intellectual honesty, with observations regarding elite centrism – Part 5: inventions, innovations, and ushering of ‘the new normal’ (ii)

(Continued from Part 5 (i))

In 1982 receiving my bachelor’s degree in computer science at Sun Yat-sen University in China, my first choice for Ph.D. study was not a mathematics department, as much as the world’s largest and one of the best UC Berkeley’s was where I later received my Ph.D., but the Scientific Computing and Computational Mathematics program in the Stanford University computer science department, as discussed in Part 4.

Stanford’s computer science department, then considered the best in the world as I recall, also had its intellectual origin in the National Bureau of Standards’ Institute for Numerical Analysis at UCLA, a historically unique mathematical computing research institution reviewed in Part 5 (i).

George Forsythe, a Stanford numerical analyst instrumental in establishing the department and serving as its founding chairman, had been a key member of the INA at UCLA until the institute was terminated in 1954, at which point he became a UCLA mathematics professor until moving to Stanford in 1957:

“George E. Forsythe was the first regular member of research staff of INA. He came to INA with a strong background in the application of mathematics to meteorology. He was a universalist in the sense that he collaborated with all members of the research staff and with other members of INA. He was very active in the computational aspects of the projects pursued at INA. He also became a leader in the educational program of the Institute. …

George E. Forsythe was one of the senior members of INA who remained with NAR. He soon was given a faculty appointment in the Department of Mathematics, where he was in charge of the educational program in numerical analysis. … In 1957 Forsythe received a very attractive offer of a faculty position at Stanford University, which would enable him to set up a program of his own. He accepted this offer. …”

(Magnus R. Hestenes and John Todd, Mathematicians Learning to Use Computers: The Institute for Numerical Analysis UCLA 1947-1954, 1991, National Institute of Standards and Technology, U.S. Department of Commerce)

The NAR cited above which Forsythe remained with after INA’s closure due to McCarthyism-related politics was Numerical Analysis Research, as mentioned in Part 5 (i), the group of former INA members staying as UCLA math faculty members.

While at INA, Forsythe utilized his abilities and expertise to take initiatives and lead research projects:

“… Rosser and Forsythe were chiefly responsible for the study of systems of linear equations. Forsythe, in particular, undertook the task of classifying the various known methods for solving systems of linear equations.

Forsythe initiated a study of Russian mathematical progress which led to the publication of a bibliography of Russian books [24]. Pertinent articles by Russians were collected and selected ones were translated into English by C. D. Benster under the editorships of Forsythe and Blanch. Some translations were published commercially [20,42]. Several appeared as NBS reports [49,59,90]. An informal, but important, result of this program was the initiation of a class in Russian for mathematicians at UCLA and INA.”

(Magnus R. Hestenes and John Todd, 1991, National Institute of Standards and Technology)

The above-mentioned project initiated and led by Forsythe to translate Russian mathematics articles, and for mathematicians to learn the Russian language, must have been quite unusual at the height of the Cold War in the 1950s – it sounded more like in China, as in Part 4, when my future undergraduate thesis adviser Yuesheng Li was a student interpreter for a visiting Russian math professor.

Forsythe’s colleague J. Barkley Rosser mentioned in the above quote, as in Part 5 (i) was at one time INA’s director and later in 1963 became director of the Army Mathematics Research Center at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

My recollection that Stanford’s computer science department was the best in the early 1980s, was true at least in some concrete measure according to the book on INA history by Magnus R. Hestenes and John Todd, namely that under George Forsythe’s leadership it became “the most influential” CS department in the U.S., attracting almost as many National Science Foundation Fellows as all other CS departments combined:

… In 1961 he became Professor of Computer Science and Chairman of the Department of Computer Science. Under his leadership, this department became the most influential one in the country, attracting almost as many National Science Foundation Fellows as all other such departments combined. …”

(Magnus R. Hestenes and John Todd, 1991, National Institute of Standards and Technology)

The year cited above, 1961, of Forsythe becoming the computer science department chairman is however incorrect. 1961 was when Forsythe founded the Computer Science Division within the Stanford mathematics department; the computer science department was later founded in 1965, capping Forsythe’s career that had included working as an Air Force meteorologist and introducing automatic computing to the Boeing Company:

“George was born on January 8, 1917, in State College, Pennsylvania, and moved as a small boy with his family to Ann Arbor, Michigan. His undergraduate work was at Swarthmore College, where he majored in Mathematics. His experience there had a strong influence on his life. His graduate study was in Mathematics at Brown University where he received his M.S. in 1938 and his Ph.D. in 1941. He then came to Stanford but his first year here was interrupted by service in the Air Force, in which he became a meteorologist. … He spent a year at Boeing where he introduced what may have been the first use of automatic computing in that company. He spent several years in the Institute for Numerical Analysis of the National Bureau of Standards, a special section located on the campus of the University of California, Los Angeles. He joined the Institute because he wanted to watch the development of the Standards Western Automatic Computer (SWAC), one of the first of the digital computers. …

Stanford acquired its first computer in 1953, and research and instruction in numerical mathematics and computation began to develop. Soon after this the Mathematics Department began to search for new leadership in this field, and George Forsythe was the unanimous choice of the faculty. It was in 1957 that he returned to Stanford, joining once again the Mathematics Department, this time as Professor. … Under his leadership, the Computer Science Division of the Mathematics Department was formed in 1961, and he began the slow process of gathering an outstanding group of colleagues.

The culmination of this effort was the founding of the Computer Science Department on January 1, 1965, by which time he had succeeded in attracting a nucleus of leading computer scientists. George was very skillful in bringing together many diverse points of view. … Of all his professional activities, building, and leading the department was closest to his heart. He did, however, contribute his leadership to Stanford in other but related tasks. He served as Director of the Stanford Computation Center from 1961 to 1965.  …

George had a nationwide influence on Computer Science education. The emergence of a discipline of Computer Science is due to his efforts more than to those of any other single person. …”

(“MEMORIAL RESOLUTION: GEORGE ELMER FORSYTHE (1917 – 1972)”, Computer Science Department, Stanford University)

As stated in the above 1972 Stanford memorial resolution on the occasion of his death, Forsythe had been more instrumental than any other person in “the emergence of a discipline of Computer Science”. In other words, Forsythe was not only the founder of a computer science department but in some sense a founding figure of the academic discipline of computer science.

Interestingly, this founding figure had been born in State College, Pennsylvania, a state where the electronic computer was later born; and he had grown up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, of interest to me as the place of intellectual formation of my Ph.D. adviser Stephen Smale as in Part 2 – and coincidentally also the place the “father of computers” John von Neumann’s daughter Marina von Neumann Whitman has settled in as in Part 5 (i).

Around 1961, Forsythe began to advocate establishing computer science departments in universities, showing clear foresight for their curriculum composition, as recalled by his later Stanford colleague Donald E. Knuth:

“… It is generally agreed that he, more than any other man, is responsible for the rapid development of computer science in the world’s colleges and universities. His foresight, combined with his untiring efforts to spread the gospel of computing, have had a significant and lasting impact; one might almost regard him as the Martin Luther of the Computer Reformation!

In 1961, we find him using the term “computer science” for the first time in his writing:

By that time Forsythe knew that numerical analysis was destined to be only a part of the computing milieu; a new discipline was crystalizing which cried out to be taught. He had come to Stanford as a professor of mathematics in 1957, but now he and Professor John Herriot wanted to hire colleagues interested in programming, artificial intelligence, and such topics, which are not considered mathematics. Stanford’s administration, especially Dean Bowker (who is now Chancellor at Berkeley), also became convinced that computing is important; so George was able to found the Division of Computer Science within the Mathematics Department in 1961.

During that academic year he lectured on “Educational Implications of the Computer Revolution” at Brown University:

“… To think of a computer as made up essentially of numbers is simply a carryover from the successful use of mathematical analysis in studying models…Enough is known already of the diverse applications of computing for us to recognize the birth of a coherent body of technique, which I call computer science…Whether computers are used for engineering design, medical data processing, composing music, or other purposes, the structure of computing is much the same. We are extremely short of talented people in this field, and so we need departments, curricula, and research and degree programs in computer science…I think of the Computer Science Department as eventually including experts in Programming, Numerical Analysis, Automata Theory, Data Processing, Business Games, Adaptive Systems, Information Theory, Information Retrieval, Recursive Function Theory, Computer Linguistics, etc., as these fields emerge in structure…Universities must respond [to the computer revolution] with far-reaching changes in the educational structure.[60]”

… Louis Fein had also perceived the eventual rise of computer science; he had recommended in 1957 that Stanford establish a Graduate School of Computer Science, analogous to the Harvard Business School. …

George argued the case for computer science long and loud, and he won; at Stanford he was in fact “the producer and director, author, scene designer, and casting manager of this hit show.” …”

(“George Forsythe and the Development of Computer Science”, by Donald E. Knuth, August 1972, Volume 15, Number 8, Communications of the ACM)

As Knuth pointed out, Stanford’s Dean Bowker, later in 1972 UC Berkeley Chancellor, played an important role facilitating Forsythe’s founding of the computer science division in the math department.

It was thus sad that Forsythe, a distinguished numerical analyst, scientist, and founder figure in computer science, lived to only 55 years of age when he died on April 9, 1972, of pancreatic cancer.

(“George Elmer Forsythe”, by J. J. O’Connor and E. F. Robertson, November 2010, School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of St Andrews, Scotland)

Forsythe, “almost … the Martin Luther of the Computer Reformation” according to Knuth, was only 2 years older than John von Neumann, the “father of computers”, at the time of his death in February 1957 due to cancer as detailed in Part 5 (i).

But at least Forsythe had not been exposed to work-related nuclear radiation like von Neumann had feared about himself, who had been involved in the Manhattan Project of atomic bomb development – rather, Forsythe had introduced automatic computing to Boeing aircraft manufacturing.

It turned out that in the 1960s Forsythe had already had skin cancer; still, his 1972 death came as a shock to his colleagues and former Ph.D. students, as they later recalled in July 1997:

“… Appropriately, a minisymposium at SIAM’s 45th Anniversary Meeting at Stanford commemorated the 25th anniversary of Forsythe’s death.

Rather than a formal review of Forsythe’s accomplishments, the memorial minisymposium, organized by Cleve Moler, chief scientist at The MathWorks and Forsythe’s eighth doctoral student, was a sort of Irish wake that celebrated the man as much as his science. …

To begin the conversation, Moler drew on a presentation about Forsythe given several months earlier by James Varah of the University of British Columbia, Forsythe’s 12th student. Varah had spent considerable time in Stanford’s Forsythe archives gathering material about Forsythe’s life and work.

Even after 25 years, the shock of Forsythe’s sudden illness and death seemed fresh to many of his friends. Moler somberly recalled Forsythe “telling me one day in his office that he had a doctor’s appointment that afternoon for a possible ulcer. Two weeks later he was dead.”

Knuth described writing a memorial article for him in the short week between Forsythe’s death and Knuth’s departure for a sabbatical in Norway. “His briefcase was still on top of his desk. In a drawer I found life expectancy rates for skin cancer, a disease he had in the 1960s. He knew he was ill.”

Parlett concurred: “He knew he was dying. He came to Berkeley to see me in 1971, the summer before he died. The visit wasn’t really needed. It was his way of saying goodbye.””

(“Remembering George Forsythe”, by Paul Davis, January 8, 1998, SIAM News, Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics)

As quoted, Beresford Parlett, the Berkeley numerical analysis professor whom I considered a mentor, had been Forsythe’s Ph.D. student, as had been James Varah, the former UBC computer science department head who helped to offer me my job there following my Berkeley Ph.D. in 1988, as in Part 4.

The “minisymposium” in memory of Forsythe was held during SIAM’s 45th Anniversary Meeting at Stanford as cited above. It was the same SIAM meeting in July 1997 mentioned in Part 4 regarding a session, “Moving-Grid Methods for Partial Differential Equations”, which was organized by a former Berkeley math Ph.D. student from China who had prepared my living arrangement before my August 1982 arrival at Berkeley, and which included several numerical analyst presenters of intriguing backgrounds at Berkeley, British Columbia and some U.S. national laboratories.

As if tragedy would strike twice, about a month after the SIAM mini-symposium remembering Forsythe, his daughter Diana died of drowning while backpacking in Alaska, at the age of 49:

“Diana E. Forsythe, ’69, of Palo Alto, August 14, at 49, of drowning while backpacking in Alaska. A scholar who studied the culture of science and technology, she was the daughter of George Forsythe, founder of Stanford’s computer science department, and Alexandra Forsythe, whose teaching specialty at Stanford was the use of computers in education. Though she got her undergraduate degree from Swarthmore, she studied at the Stanford-in-Britain program during the 1967-68 year. After teaching anthropology and computer science at the University of Pittsburgh, she returned to Stanford in 1995 with a fellowship from the System Development Foundation; she was also a visiting scholar at the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics. Her paper on the hidden cultural assumptions in the way computer systems are designed was published in December 1996. She joined the UCSF faculty this year as an associate professor in the medical anthropology program. Survivors include her husband, Bernard Shen.”

(“Obituaries”, November/December 1997, Stanford Magazine)

Somehow Diana Forsythe’s age when she died, 49, coincided with the month and day of her father’s death decades earlier, April 9. Her date of perishment, August 14, was exactly 30 days following the mini-symposium honoring her late father, held on July 15 and led by Cleve Moler of The MathWorks, another of George Forsythe’s former Ph.D. students.

(“A Tribute to the Memory of George Forsythe”, July 15, 1997, SIAM’s 45th Anniversary Meeting, Stanford University)

Closely following her father’s footsteps, Diana graduated from George Forsythe’s alma mater, Swarthmore College, then attended Stanford before getting a teaching job at the University of Pittsburgh.

I note that Marina von Neumann, whose application for Ph.D. study at Princeton – like the equivalent of Stanford for Diana Forsythe – had been rejected as in Part 5 (i), had also ended up teaching at the University of Pittsburgh.

(““The Martian’s Daughter” by Marina von Neumann Whitman”, October 2, 2012, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan)

From that point on, the critical career difference between the two daughters of famous fathers in the computing field was the lift Marina then received from President Richard Nixon in 1972 – coincidentally the year of George Forsythe’s death – to become the first female member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, as in Part 5 (i), which no doubt gave her credentials for her later appointment as a vice president of General Motors.

As taken into consideration in Part 5 (i), back in the 1950s Marina’s father, an important scientific adviser to the U.S. military, had been well acquainted with members of then President Dwight Eisenhower’s cabinet, with Nixon then the vice president.

For Diana there was no higher lift – none higher than where her father had founded and led the most influential computer science department in the U.S. – and she eventually returned to Stanford-related jobs, analyzing “hidden cultural assumptions” in the computer field, finally landing a UC San Francisco professorship just in the year she died in Alaska.

George Forsythe’s daughter Diana Forsythe had a much worse luck in life than John von Neumann’s daughter Marina Whitman – perhaps the degree of parental fame mattered for the next generation.

But it has been a consolation that following her death, Diana was immediately remembered in her anthropology discipline by the American Anthropological Association with the Diana Forsythe Prize honoring her spirit of “feminist anthropological research”:

“The Diana Forsythe Prize was created in 1998 to celebrate the best book or series of published articles in the spirit of Diana Forsythe’s feminist anthropological research on work, science, and/or technology, including biomedicine. …”

(“Awards: Diana Forsythe Prize”, GAD, American Anthropological Association)

Just like the “father of computers” John von Neumann not having been the first to develop the electronic computer, joining the World War II ENIAC project after it had started, George Forsythe, the most influential person in the emergence of the computer science discipline, wasn’t the first to advocate for it – that credit goes to Louis Fein, a name cited in Donald Knuth’s tribute to Forsythe.

Fein, a computing education consultant based in the Stanford area of Palo Alto, had begun campaigning for computer science in the mid-late 1950s, producing a report for Stanford University in 1957, and in 1960 taking the role of chairman of the Education Committee of the Association for Computing Machinery – as in Part 3, ACM has been the main international organization for computer science:

“… the earliest significant papers on CS education appear to be by Louis Fein who was a private consultant in California and a passionate supporter of CS education in universities. He wrote an unpublished report on computing education for Stanford University in 1957 and published three papers (Fein 1959a, 1959b, 1961) and was appointed chairman of the ACM Education Committee in 1960. …

In the two similar 1959 papers that were based on his work for Stanford University, Fein explains that he had been studying the operation of university programs in computing, data processing and related fields since 1956 by holding formal and informal discussions with university administrators, computer center directors, faculty members, students and industry representatives. … The most important impact on university programs at that time was IBM selling heavily discounted IBM 650s to about 50 universities on the condition that they would offer some computing courses. The universities were offering a variety of computer courses but, in Fein’s view, most universities were putting too much emphasis on the computing equipment and courses were being designed as supplements to the equipment when equipment ought to be a supplement to the courses. …

Fein had a clear vision for computer science education in universities and he appears to have been one of the first to call the field “Computer Science” when he suggested that universities establish a Graduate School of Computer Sciences …”

(“Computer Science Curriculum Developments in the 1960s”, by G. K. Gupta, April-June 2007, Volume 29, Issue 2, IEEE Annuals of the History of Computing)

Like George Forsythe, Louis Fein had moved from Southern California, though not from the INA at UCLA but from the military-oriented aerospace industry.

Fein had worked at the Raytheon Company as a chief engineer building the RADAC computer in Massachusetts, moved to Southern California to install it for the Navy, and then formed his own company which he referred to as the “Three C’s”, the Computer Control Company:

“FEIN: In 1954 and 1955, I was in southern California installing and operating at the Naval Air Missile Test Center at Point Magu the RADAC, the Raytheon digital automatic computer which I had built as chief engineer at Raytheon Manufacturing Company between 1948 and 1951. I had, after leaving Raytheon, formed the Computer Control Company which was an organization made up of people from Raytheon that worked for me. On October 30, 1952 I formed the Three C’s, Computer Control Company, because after the acceptance tests were passed for the RADAC, the RADAC was then whipped from Waltham, Massachusetts to Point Magu, that’s right outside of Oxnard. The Navy department asked me if I would go out to Point Magu together with some engineers and install and operate the computer center there. The RADAC was built and actually was intended for the data reduction at Point Magu. They insisted however that I must go personally. …”

(“An Interview with LOUIS FEIN”, interview by Pamela McCorduck, May 9, 1979, Charles Babbage Institute, The Center for the History of Information Processing, University of Minnesota)

In the above-cited May 9, 1979 interview by Pamela McCorduck, Fein recalled that on August 10, 1955, he left his company to become an independent consultant based in Palo Alto, especially for the Stanford Research Institute; in that capacity and at the request of Al Bowker, then Stanford Graduate Dean, he wrote a report for Stanford on starting computer science education:

FEIN: … In August 1955, for a variety of reasons, mostly administrative, I left Three C’s and decided that I would write, consult, and teach perhaps. As a matter of fact that was August 10, 1955. Immediately after leaving Three C’s. by August 11, I had, as I recall, seven or eight contacts already made, and by August 18, I was consulting for five or six computer outfits. … One of the first assignments I’d gotten was with SRI, the Stanford Research Institute then, who had a contract with the Bank of America to build what later became ERMA and they are right here in Menlo Park. I had also gotten an assignment from Sylvania Electronic Defense Laboratory to work on some computer hardware, and I also worked for Electro-Data, RCA, but I rather liked it up here and so we moved up to Palo Alto in January 1956. I was almost walking distance to SRI and to Sylvania and when I had to go down to Pasadena for Electro-Data or to Camden for RCA or to New York for IBM, I just went, but Palo Alto became my home base and I’ve lived here since. I’ve been a free lance independent computer consultant since August 10, 1955, which I believe also might be the longest in the world. … One of my friends introduced me to Al Bowker who is now the Chancellor at Berkeley, but then was the Provost at Stanford. I may not be remembering accurately; he was either Provost or Graduate Dean, and perhaps later became Provost. Al was interested in the proposals that IBM was making people of the following type: “We will give you a 650 for free if you will give a course in scientific computing and one in business computing.” And Al also had heard a little about this computing business and I suggested to him that I thought that computing fits in a university. I didn’t quite know how. But it was clear to me and apparently to him that computers would develop in such a way that most of the disciplines in the university would have need for them at least as auxiliary devices. The question of whether or not computer science, not yet the computer itself, was a discipline worthy of study by the university was not yet settled but in my enthusiasm I thought it might be and so Al Bowker commissioned me to make a study on what might be called “The Role of the University in Computers and Data Processing.” …”

(interview by Pamela McCorduck, May 9, 1979, Charles Babbage Institute, The Center for the History of Information Processing, University of Minnesota)

SRI was the same institute the Silicon Valley pioneer Douglas Engelbart went to, as in Part 5 (i), after leaving UC Berkeley in 1956 and finding out that both Stanford University and the Hewlett-Packard Company had no vision at the time for computer development. Fein had arrived a little earlier, in January 1956 as quoted above, immediately participating in SRI’s ERMA computer project for Bank of America.

ERMA was “the world’s first computer used in banking”, unveiled in September 1955 in a transcontinental videoconference hosted by the actor Ronald Reagan, a future U.S. president.

(“Our Story: Bank of America revolutionizes banking industry”, Bank of America)

While campaigning for computer science, Louis Fein found, in his interactions in the late 1950s with computing pioneers in the academia, that many – including George Forsythe, and UC Berkeley’s Harry Huskey and Derrick Lehmer who had been involved with the first electronic computer ENIAC as in Part 5 (i) – were not so positive.

In his 1979 interview Fein recalled Forsythe’s ‘hedging the bet’ attitude regarding establishing a computer science department at Stanford, and the negative attitudes of John Herriott, later Forsythe’s co-founder of the computer science division in the mathematics department, and of math department chairman David Gilbarg:

“FEIN: …

… Herriot, you know Herriot, I used to talk locally in Palo Alto, a lot at Stanford on this idea, and he was – hostile was an understatement – to the idea. I mean he would get up and shout, “What you want it pie in the sky and you can’t have pie in the sky!” And that was the reception I got. George Forsythe… I met him at a Los Angeles Conference before I came to Stanford – and he asked me about Stanford because he was considering either Berkeley or Stanford and I told him I thought Stanford was the place to go. He was interested in numerical analysis, and he had also worked on SWAC over there, and I told him I was working for Stanford and trying to persuade them about a computer science department. a I was already in the middle of the study and I had the outline of what I was going to recommend and he finally came to Stanford. After he came to Stanford his position was – well equivocal; he could go for it or not go for it. There was a very, very strong opposition in the mathematics department and George was in the mathematics department and Dave Gilbarg who was the chairman of the department, who was a very close friend of mine, because his boy and my boy were on the same little league team, and you know we used to go to the movie together with the families. But Dave thought computing was like plumbing. We don’t have plumbers studying within the university and what does computing have to do with intellect? I am exaggerating of course. He was murder on it and he may still be to this day. And George wasn’t sure he wanted a separate department either. Herriot though the pie in the sky, crazy. So the opposition came from insiders not outsiders…”

(interview by Pamela McCorduck, May 9, 1979, Charles Babbage Institute, The Center for the History of Information Processing, University of Minnesota)

About the Berkeley personalities, Fein recalled the reaction of Harry Huskey – as in Part 5 (i) the leader of the SWAC computer development at the INA at UCLA, and then a Berkeley math and electrical engineering professor – against having a computer science department:

“FEIN: … Well, this report came out and as I recall, one of the anecdotes, I gave a copy to West Churchman who apparently was very interested in it – West is a philosopher and all of that, and he thought it was a great thing. He organized a small seminary to be held at Berkeley (and I don’t recall exactly when that was and I regret so many times not having kept a date book on these things) and as I recall around the table, Harry Huskey, my good Derek Lehmer, Julie (Julian) Feldman, pretty sure Ed Feigenbaum…at least those and I may think of some others before we finish the interview. West introduced me, saying I had a notion that universities should be involved in computers and that there should be a separate computer science department. And I made my pitch. And Harry Huskey said he saw no need whatever for having a separate department. He was doing computing in engineering.”

(interview by Pamela McCorduck, May 9, 1979, Charles Babbage Institute, The Center for the History of Information Processing, University of Minnesota)

As Fein described, dismissiveness toward computer science came from the perspective of engineering as well.

And according to Fein, Derrick Lehmer – as in Part 5 (i) an early pioneer in mathematical computing and a former INA director who brought Huskey to Berkeley after INA’s closure in 1954 – called Fein and his idea “crazy”:

“FEIN: … And Derek Lehmer – he didn’t see any need for a department. He was, even at that time, trying to use the computer that Morton built (Morton was the computer man at Berkeley in those days and they were building a homemade computer). I think Lehmer was trying to use it for prime number calculations. And Derek Lehmer patted me on the head and…crazy idea…as a matter of fact, one of my sons later went to Berkeley, well two of them went to Berkeley, one of them, Danny who was with Mario Savio during those days and once he ran into Derek Lehmer and he said that Professor Lehmer said, “Oh, your father is Lou Fein, that crazy guy that wants…I thought he was joking, but…(laughter).”

(interview by Pamela McCorduck, May 9, 1979, Charles Babbage Institute, The Center for the History of Information Processing, University of Minnesota)

As detailed in Part 5 (i), Huskey and Lehmer were the leading computational mathematicians at UC Berkeley, both had worked with von Neumann in relation to ENIAC, and Huskey held negative opinions of von Neumann in the ENIAC project while Lehmer was of opposite mathematical interests to von Neumann’s.

There seemed to be a common thread in both the early electronic computer development where von Neumann was the leader of an ambitious computer-building movement, and the later emergence of the computer science discipline, that Huskey and Lehmer were solid technical experts but skeptics about ambitious development goals.

After submitting his report to Stanford Graduate Dean Al Bowker, recommending the establishment of a graduate school of computer science, Fein did not receive a formal response for 30 months while the university appointed Forsythe as the Computing Center director, and so had to write a letter to enquire:

“FEIN: …

So I envisioned a set of courses in a department itself, actually in a graduate school to start off with, because we really didn’t know much about computers for undergraduate study, so we had to start out with a graduate program, I thought. And I laid out a set of courses, not only a set of courses for the school itself, but for other departments, computers for – medicine, computer for so–, and a research program, and some dollars required and where it might come from, and I wanted to start it with some seed money that wasn’t merely a computer center as many people were doing. …

FEIN: And this report lays it out, and in my other papers which I suppose you should see because George took a lot of his stuff from these papers. I used to talk to George a lot about this. Anyway, the relationship between the computer center and the computer department was identified at least. … and Al…there was a difference in philosophy between Al and me. I laid out a structure, an organization and I thought that even if we didn’t have a bunch of computer geniuses around in which you can set up a school…you have a bunch of slots and then you get the best person you can to fill the slot…and Al didn’t believe this; he said “It doesn’t make any difference what the structure is, because what we need is to get a von Neumann out here and then things will go well.” The great man theory.

It’s clear that with that view he didn’t think I was that great man and he didn’t want in principle to set up an organization and then fill it with people who were available, great or not. Meanwhile, Burroughs, I believe, was dangling some equipment in front of his eyes for free because all of these manufacturers are very interested in getting universities to pick up their equipment for sales promotional purposes and Al, I think, got a very good deal from Burroughs. Burroughs gave him a machine and he, I think, started what was essentially a computer center and it isn’t clear to me when he decided that George should be the one to do that and that maybe alter, I don’t know exactly what Al was thinking because he stopped talking to me about it – that’s why I had to write the letter about it’s 30 months since…I guess Al appointed George to start with the computer center and maybe to give some courses in numerical analysis. …”

(interview by Pamela McCorduck, May 9, 1979, Charles Babbage Institute, The Center for the History of Information Processing, University of Minnesota)

So the pioneering computer science advocate Louis Fein, in his May 9, 1979 interview conducted by Pamela McCorduck, quoted above, made two rather serious allegations: one, when George Forsythe began to advocate for computer science in the early 1960s “a lot of his stuff” came from Fein’s earlier papers; and two, Stanford Graduate Dean Al Bowker held a biased view that a new discipline needed to be started by a “great man” like John von Neumann, which Fein wasn’t.

Apparently, Forsythe was more of such a “great man” – and then also suffered von Neumann’s fate.

In making his allegations, Fein also gave his explanation why his advocacy was ignored by the Stanford administration, namely that his ambition of becoming a computer science department founding chairman was viewed as a threat by academic insiders – possibly insinuating that Forsythe was such an insider:

“FEIN: Well, the usual political explanation – Lou Fein brings in an idea, “An outsider is bringing in an idea and it is clear that he is bringing it in because he wants to be the chairman of the department and I prefer that I be the chairman of the department and so I will resist it.” The resistance to innovation anyway, and secondly the threat.””

(interview by Pamela McCorduck, May 9, 1979, Charles Babbage Institute, The Center for the History of Information Processing, University of Minnesota)

Fein’s interviewer Pamela McCorduck tried to place Fein’s historical dispute with Stanford in a neutral light:


The first time I came across the mention of your name as I was going through the archives of George Forsythe’s papers in the Stanford archives, was in a letter that you wrote to Frederick Terman and in this letter you said that “it has been almost thirty months since we last discussed the formation of a graduate school of computer science at Stanford as recommended in my report commissioned by Dr. A. H. Bowker.” …

McCORDUCK: Now I inferred from the text of the letter you wrote that Terman at some point must have responded to you and said, “Look, dozens of faculty members come to me with hot propositions. Yours is no hotter than anybody else’s. It’s interesting but it’s not revolutionary so please leave me alone already.” And you were arguing in your letter that it wasn’t just another hot proposition but that it was in fact revolutionary which he didn’t seem to see or at least denied.”

(interview by Pamela McCorduck, May 9, 1979, Charles Babbage Institute, The Center for the History of Information Processing, University of Minnesota)

Frederick Terman mentioned above, to whom Fein sent a letter of grievance after waiting for nearly 30 months for a response to his report, as in Part 5 (i) had been the mentor of William Hewlett and David Packard in their founding of the Hewlett-Packard Company, an event since recognized as the birth of Silicon Valley.

The Provost of Stanford, his hometown, Terman proudly pitched for the region over the East Coast and Southern California:

““The price that is paid for all these blessings is annoying traffic congestion around 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. in the 10- to 20-minute drive between home and work. But this is really a pretty small price to pay to avoid having to live in the East, or even in Southern California where the traffic is worse and the smog is denser.”

Fred Terman had just retired as provost of Stanford University when he offered that 1965 assessment of what was to become Silicon Valley…

Born in English, Ind., in 1900, Frederick Emmons Terman seemed destined from the start for intellectual glory. His father, Lewis, who suffered from chronic battles with tuberculosis, moved his family to Stanford’s sunny environs when Fred was a youngster. There, Lewis, a noted scholar and educator, invented the Stanford-Binet IQ test. He also prepared a course of home tutelage that enabled young Fred to complete grade school in just four years.”

(“THE ENGINEER WHO JUMP-STARTED SILICON VALLEY”, by Joan O’C. Hamilton, August 7, 1997, Business Week)

An MIT engineering Ph.D. graduate in the 1920s under Vannevar Bush, who later during World War II was the U.S. government’s leading scientific adviser as discussed in Part 5 (i), Terman became an excellent teacher at Stanford, at Bush’s request managed a military research lab at Harvard during World War II and later received the Medal of Merit; subsequently as Stanford Dean of Engineering and then Provost, Terman was at home with Cold War-oriented research – as a young boy he had already tinkered with ham radio with his friend Herbert Hoover, Jr.:

“By the time he was 14, the younger Terman had developed an interest in ham radio (which he pursued with his friend, Herbert Hoover Jr.), and with it, a lifelong love of electronics. He earned two Stanford degrees, in chemistry and engineering, then a PhD from MIT, where his mentor was Vannevar Bush, who later became director of the government’s Office of Scientific Research & Development. In the 1920s, Terman returned to Stanford, where he developed a reputation as an excellent teacher… Hewlett-Packard co-founder David Packard would later write in his autobiography, “The HP Way,” that “Professor Terman had the unique ability to make a complex problem seem the essence of simplicity.”

… Other contemporaries say Stanford’s early lead on Silicon Valley vis-a-vis UC-Berkeley, was largely because Stanford had the aggressive and well-connected Terman, while Berkeley had a dean of engineering who was building a much broader base with young faculty.

JAMMIN’ THE RADAR. During the early years of World War II, Vannevar Bush recruited Terman to head the Harvard Radio Research Laboratory, back at Cambridge, Mass. Terman would later be awarded the highest civilian medal – the Medal of Merit – for his work there. Under his direction, the lab developed strategies and methods to confound enemy radar…

During this period Terman both added to his already far-flung network of powerful people in industry and government and lobbied for the government to devote much more funding for science and engineering in higher education as a key to military success. When he returned to Stanford in 1946 as dean of engineering, he embarked upon what he called his “steeples of excellence” strategy to gain world reknown for Stanford. …

This approach was instrumental in nursing back to financial health a Stanford that World War II had threatened. Not only did Stanford lose a lot of tuition-paying students to the war, it got virtually no research money from the federal government, which did, in fact, pour money into Harvard, Yale, and other Eastern schools. As dean, Terman was happy and anxious to take on government contracts that would later fuel the cold war arms race. …”

(Joan O’C. Hamilton, August 7, 1997, Business Week)

The U.S. Presidential Medal for Merit was awarded to “such civilians of the nations prosecuting the war under the joint declaration of the United Nations and of other friendly foreign nations as have distinguished themselves by exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services since the proclamation of an emergency by the President on September 8, 1939.”

(“Federal Register: Executive Order 9637–Medal for Merit”, U.S. National Archives)

But Terman’s achievements and pedigree could not have intimidated Fein, who had not only gone through the Southern California military aerospace industry but had worked as a military technology engineer during World War II, including in a Harvard lab – just a different lab from the one Terman led:

“Louis Fein graduated from Long Island University in 1938, with a bachelor’s degree in physics. Upon graduating, Fein entered the University of Colorado at Boulder to work on his master’s degree in physics. He graduated from Colorado in 1941 and went to work as as an instructor in mathematics at Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana. By 1943, Fein had left Earlham and went to work for the Harvard Underwater Sound Laboratory as an engineer on sonar devices, underwater sound gear, acoustic gear, and ultrasonic gear. While working at the Lab, Fein took courses at Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in electronics and mathematics. When the Harvard Underwater Sound Laboratory closed, Fein went to work for Submarine Signal Company, The Submarine Signal Company permitted Fein to enroll at Brown University to work on his doctorate in 1945. … In 1948, Fein applied to the Raytheon Manufacturing Company, who had a contract to make two computers under the HURRICANE project for Point Magu in California. …”

(“Interviewee: Louis Fein Interviewer: Henry S. Tropp”, May 4, 1973, Computer Oral History Collection, 1969-1973, 1977, Smithsonian National Museum of American History)

I note an interesting contrast between the two at Harvard during the war, that Terman directed research on radar in the air while Fein did engineering work on sonar underwater.

I also note that Fein received his Ph.D. from Brown, the same university Forsythe had received his.

With his own solid educational and engineering work backgrounds, some of which previously near Terman at Harvard, it was only logical for Fein to appeal to Stanford Provost Terman after 30 months not getting a reply from Graduate Dean Bowker about his consultation report on computer science.

Terman’s feedback, a suggestion of getting “a little contract” from the Office of Navy Research like how Bowker had started Stanford’s statistics department, disappointed Fein:

“FEIN: …

…I had a talk with Terman, because after I presented this report, I talked a lot with Al (Bowker) and then Terman. Al had started the statistics department at Stanford and statistics had the same kind of history of resistance by academics and mathematics departments for introducing a pedestrian study like statistics, which is like plumbing, into the university. The way in which apparently Al got it going was to get a contract from ONS for one person, get a little project going and then hustle another contract from maybe the Air Force and get something going. And after 8 or 9 or 10 years he had gotten something. And I couldn’t see with the vision I had, doing computer science by getting a little dinky computer from IBM…

FEIN: … Also Terman, you know Al’s notion was the great man theory, and Terman was telling me, “Well, Lou,” he says, “We can’t just set you up like you want, but why don’t you do like what Al did with statistics: get yourself a little contract from ONR and hire yourself one person and so on and after a while do like he did.” And I couldn’t see that at all, and with hindsight I am still right.”

(interview by Pamela McCorduck, May 9, 1979, Charles Babbage Institute, The Center for the History of Information Processing, University of Minnesota)

In fact, “a little contract from ONR”, i.e., the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Research reviewed in Part 5 (i), was not only how Bowker had started the Stanford statistics department but how Bowker himself had been hired by Stanford; Terman had gone to Mina Rees, head of ONR’s mathematics division – previously mentioned in Part 5 (i) – to try to win an ONR statistical sampling contract, and Rees suggested for that purpose hiring Bowker, a Columbia University graduate student who had worked with her in probability studies of strategic bombing during World War II:

“… On one of Terman’s visits to the East Coast, he had talked with Mina Rees, the head of the ONR’s mathematics division, and learned that the ONR was planning to let a contract for statistical sampling work. To Terman this was a clear indication that mathematical statistics was an “important” field, and he was eager for Stanford to obtain the contract … Stanford, however, did not have any mathematical statisticians on its faculty and no money to hire any. But, as Terman was quick to realize, if Stanford could obtain the ONR contract, it could use the contract funds to cover a portion of the salaries of any statisticians the university might hire; the university’s portion of the salaries would be paid with overhead funds accumulated from government contracts. … The university might even make money, Terman speculated. …

Terman’s plan to hire “top notch” statisticians using contract funds from the ONR clearly required the cooperation of the ONR. Terman went directly to Rees with his plan and asked her for the names of the best available statisticians in the country. She suggested Albert Bowker, a graduate student at Columbia University who, during the war, had done probability studies of strategic bombing as a member, along with Rees, of the OSRD’s applied mathematics division at Columbia. Bowker was hired by Stanford; shortly afterwards, the university received from the ONR the statistical sampling contract.”

(Rebecca S. Lowen, Creating the Cold War University: The Transformation of Stanford, 1997, University of California Press)

So Graduate Dean Bowker had originally been recruited to Stanford by Terman at the recommendation of the ONR to start Stanford’s statistics research, and so was doubtlessly trusted by Provost Terman.

In an interview by McCorduck on May 21, 1979, only 12 days after the Fein interview, Bowker asserted that Terman had “tended to follow” his advice on computing matters:

“McCORDUCK: Do you happen to remember why Louis Fein came to mind when you decided to commission this report?

BOWKER: Well, he had some interest in this field and was around Stanford. I’ve forgotten exactly now why I talked to him. I talked to a number of other people and many of them were quite negative.

McCORDUCK: But still you persisted. What was Terman’s role in this?

BOWKER: Well, he tended to follow my advice in these areas and I’m sure he was…He and I had worked from the very beginning to develop new machine capabilities at Stanford rather than a joint activity at my laboratory and at his when he was Dean of Engineering. We had worked together for a long time on computing matters.”

(“An Interview with ALBERT BOWKER”, interview by Pamela McCorduck, May 21, 1979, Charles Babbage Institute, The Center for the History of Information Processing, University of Minnesota)

Hence, I can infer that when Terman told Fein to start with “a little contract from ONR” like Bowker had done starting the statistics department, it was also Bowker’s view that the computer science department should also start this way.

My view of it, on the basis of my review of history in Part 5 (i), is that funding through a contract with a military or military-oriented research agency was a foundational cornerstone of U.S. government support for scientific research, first put in place under the leadership of Vannevar Bush, Frederick Terman’s mentor – Louis Fein must have known it well as he had been a chief computer engineer at the military aerospace company Raytheon, a company co-founded by Bush.

(“Raytheon Company: History”, Raytheon Company)

In fact, where Bowker as a student had worked with Rees during World War II, “the OSRD’s applied mathematics division at Columbia” as in the second previous quote, was the U.S. government’s Office of Scientific Research and Development under Bush, which as in Part 5 (i) managed science funding contracts during the war.

Louis Fein might not like the “little contract” much, but George Forsythe proceeded to found and build up a Stanford computer science department beyond such limits, a department with unmatched national influence and an unparalleled number of National Science Foundation Fellows – thus Graduate Dean Al Bowker was right about the “great man”.

I note that Bowker’s background did not seem to include real military technology research like what Terman and Fein did at Harvard radar and sonar labs during wartime, but only the probability studies with Rees at Columbia; at Stanford the “little contracts” he got from defense research agencies to start and build up the statistics department – as Fein described – were thus presumably partly a favor from Rees at ONR.

Rather, Al Bowker was a lifelong academic from a U.S. Capital childhood with his father a member of the Bureau of Standards, as detailed in Part 5 (i) the government agency whose management of the INA at UCLA was cut short during the McCarthy era, before George Forsythe’s move to Stanford; following the dispute with Fein, Bowker left Stanford in 1963 to become Chancellor of the City University of New York, and beginning in 1971 Chancellor of UC Berkeley, before joining U.S. President Jimmy Carter’s administration in 1980 – prior to my 1982 arrival at Berkeley under the helm of his successor Ira Michael Heyman:

“Albert Hosmer Bowker, a former chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley, an expert in statistics and an innovative administrator during his decades-long career in higher education across the country, died Sunday in a retirement home in Portola Valley, Calif. He was 88 and had been suffering from pancreatic cancer.

Bowker was chancellor of UC Berkeley, which he called a “wild and wonderful place,” from 1971 to 1980…

Ira Michael Heyman, a UC Berkeley professor emeritus who served as vice chancellor under Bowker and as chancellor from 1980 to 1990, said that during Bowker’s term as chancellor dwindling state funding made it difficult to maintain existing programs and almost impossible to launch anything new. He applauded Bowker’s role in setting up the UC Berkeley Foundation.

Born in Winchendon, Mass., in 1919, Bowker grew up in Washington, D.C., where his father worked for the federal Bureau of Standards.

He earned his B.S. in mathematics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1941 and a Ph.D. in statistics at Columbia University in 1949. …

He began his professional career in 1941 as a research assistant in MIT’s Department of Mathematics, and took a post as an associate mathematical statistician at Columbia University from 1943 to 1945.

Bowker became an assistant professor of math and statistics at Stanford University in 1947, and was chair of its statistics department from 1948 to 1959. He is credited with setting up a mathematical statistics research lab and a computer center at Stanford, where he served as the graduate division dean from 1959 to 1963.

Bowker was chancellor of the City University of New York (CUNY) from 1963 to 1971, where he supported a plan to provide free tuition for full-time CUNY undergraduates. …

Bowker’s role in higher education continued after he left UC Berkeley in 1980. During the Carter administration, he accepted a position as assistant secretary for postsecondary education for the newly-formed U.S. Department of Education. He served there from 1980 to 1981, then took a post as dean of the School of Public Affairs at the University of Maryland from 1981 to 1984.

He was executive vice president of the University of Maryland from 1984 to 1986. He returned to CUNY as vice president for planning at its research foundation from 1986-1993.“

(“Albert Bowker, innovative UC Berkeley chancellor during 1970s, dies at age 88”, by Kathleen Maclay, January 22, 2008, UC Berkeley News)

Reading the UC Berkeley obituary above, I notice that Fein’s allegation of Bowker getting a “little contract” here and there for “8 or 9 or 10 years” was inaccurate: Bowker had in fact founded the statistics department in 1948 immediately after his 1947 arrival at Stanford – he had not even earned his Ph.D. when he became founding chairman of Stanford’s statistics department, but apparently Mina Rees’s recommendation meant everything to a Stanford eager to get the ONR statistical sampling contract.

But I can understand that, given the “little contract” mode of that era, it likely took many more years for Bowker to get sufficient funding to build up a strong department.

Even though Fein did not make it explicit, I can detect that in his lament of Bowker’s “little contract” he was also somewhat belittling of Bowker’s academic credential at the time of founding the Stanford statistics department, compared to Fein’s own long lists of accomplishments when starting to advocate for computer science.

I notice that Bowker’s top-level academic leadership positions have been at left-leaning public universities, CUNY and UC Berkeley, and after Stanford all his positions have been at public institutions.

After arriving at Berkeley, Bowker became a lifelong member of a close-knit academic community there:

““Al Bowker was an outstanding chancellor who paved the way for UC Berkeley into the modern era,” said UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau. “For 28 years after stepping down as chancellor, Al Bowker remained an integral part of the Cal community, offering advice for the chancellors who came after him. I was always delighted to see him at the Faculty Club, entertaining colleagues and participating in campus life. He will be greatly missed.”

Bowker maintained a home in Berkeley at University Terrace, a condominium community for university faculty and staff, having moved to a residence in Portola Valley several years ago to be close to his grandchildren.”

(Kathleen Maclay, January 22, 2008, UC Berkeley News)

So it is possible that Bowker’s purer academic perspective entitled him a high sense of intellectual self-esteem that helped keep at bay the enthusiasm of Louis Fein, a person of strong but mostly military-oriented engineering credentials, to wade into the academia for some founding status in a new discipline.

Consistent with this as the explanation why Al Bowker did not act on Louis Fein’s consultation report on computer science but helped George Forsythe take the initiative, is a crucial fact reviewed in Part 5 (i): Mina Rees, Bowker’s wartime mentor at Columbia and then head of ONR’s mathematics division, in the 1950s expressed strong opposition to the U.S. Army’s direct role in academic mathematical research, i.e., opposing the establishment of the Army Mathematics Research Center at Wisconsin-Madison.

Further convergence of Bowker and Rees later actually happened: in 1963 when Bowker became Chancellor of CUNY, Rees was already CUNY Dean of Graduate Studies. Rees spent her entire academic career, before and after serving in government and military research agencies, in the CUNY public education system: at New York City’s Hunter College, CUNY and CUNY Graduate Center.

(“FORMER PRESIDENTS: Mina S. Rees”, The Graduate Center, City University of New York; and, “Mina Rees: August 2, 1902 – October 25, 1997”, Biographies of Women Mathematicians, Agnes Scott College)

But despite living to a good 88 years, Al Bowker still died of the same pancreatic cancer his former Stanford underling George Forsythe had died of at 55 – and in a different coincidence, Forsythe’s daughter Diana and Mina Rees died in the same year 1997, Diana in August at 49 before Mina in October at 95!

Mina lived to nearly twice the age of Diana, though not quite. On the other hand, the day in August when I had arrived at the San Francisco International Airport and Berkeley from China 15 years earlier, the 28th, happened to be twice of the August day, the 14th, when Diana Forsythe died in Alaska.

(“Team Canada female athletes disqualified from Commonwealth silver medal, jailed Chinese democracy activist awarded with Nobel peace prize, and others in between (Part 3) – when violence and motive are subtle and pervasive”, March 29, 2011, Feng Gao’s Blog – Reflections on Events of Interest)

And despite George Forsythe’s talents and ambitious drive, Stanford wasn’t the first university to start a computer science department.

The honor of the first belongs to Purdue University, which established its computer science department in 1962.

In his May 1979 interview Fein also recalled his interactions with Purdue, claiming it as an example that his idea of a new department was viewed as a threat by an existing department:

“McCORDUCK: Do you think people thought of this as a threat? In what way?

FEIN: Yes, it’s threatening in the sense that they themselves typically weren’t in the field and monies that might normally come to them might be diverted to this new department. I had this experience at Purdue. I was invited to Purdue by Tom Jones who is now a Vice President of MIT. He got hold of one of my papers and he thought it was the greatest thing since the wheel. He invited me to Purdue where he was Chairman of the Department. And his people almost murdered me – they didn’t want anything to do with this. Oh, after I left, two years later, they had one…And that’s my explanation. I think anyone who brings in a new idea anywhere that requires money from a common budget poses a financial threat and obviously a professional one.”

(interview by Pamela McCorduck, May 9, 1979, Charles Babbage Institute, The Center for the History of Information Processing, University of Minnesota)

In his subsequent interview by McCorduck, Bowker did confirm that Stanford mathematicians were resistant to the discipline of computer science and even to that of applied mathematics:

“McCORDUCK: … Apparently one of the things you said to George Forsythe (I got all my information, by the way, from the Stanford archives. George kept superb notes to himself and things like that; notes exist and I must say if you ever go read these, you’d be flattered out of your mind by some of these things. They are very, very complimentary to you.) One of the things you said in your farewell conversation with him, apparently you telephoned to say goodby to him when you were leaving. …

McCORDUCK: … When you called him to say goodby, you said to him, you recommended to him, that the Computer Science Division not stay in Math, in fact do its best to get out of Math, because you detected some resistance on the part of mathematicians, resistance to hiring non-mathematical but nevertheless legitimate computer science types.

BOWKER: Yes, well, I think it’s true around the country where very few departments of mathematics have taken the lead in this field. There is some activity in ours and other areas but generally mathematics departments tend to emphasize the pure mathematics. The Stanford department had more emphasis on classical analysis than on applicable mathematics if you like, than most in this country, but still was not terribly interested in becoming primarily an applied mathematics department and still isn’t.”

(interview by Pamela McCorduck, May 21, 1979, Charles Babbage Institute, The Center for the History of Information Processing, University of Minnesota)

But Bowker politely reminded McCorduck that the Stanford administration, Terman in this case – and presumably Bowker himself since the two had been together on computing matters as mentioned earlier – had controlled the pace of change:

“McCORDUCK: … What I’m curious to know is how you managed to convince a lot of people who were resistant to this that it wasn’t just another “hot project.”

BOWKER: Well, I think Stanford was trying to create activities growing out of research largely, but activities that in some sense fell in between basic science and engineering. …

I don’t remember exactly when Dr. Terman changed his mind. In fact, my recollection is that the department may not have come into being until after I left or at the time I left.”

(interview by Pamela McCorduck, May 21, 1979, Charles Babbage Institute, The Center for the History of Information Processing, University of Minnesota)

In my view, Louis Fein’s grievance about Stanford, and about existing academic departments in general, consisted of two different matters: one, a university’s attitude toward establishing a computer science department; and two, how the university treated Fein’s active lobbying.

Reviewing the Purdue facts carefully, I come to a conclusion that, rather than Fein’s outsider role having been treated as a threat, his lack of university faculty experience hindered his ambition – a conclusion consistent with my earlier remark on why Stanford Graduate Dean Bowker resisted Fein’s effort to get some computer science founding status, namely that Fein’s primary background had been in the military technology industry and not the academia.

In 1961, Fein was briefly considered a possible candidate for the directorship of Purdue’s Computer Sciences Center:

“The Statistical and Computing Laboratory was moved into the Schools of Engineering along with the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. Hawkins separated the Computing Laboratory from the Statistical Laboratory and it was renamed the Computer Sciences Center in 1961. … Efforts were made to find a senior person in the computer field to be director of the Computer Sciences Center, and correspondence between Pyle and T.F. Jones mentions Louis Fein and Bernard Galler as possibilities, but the search was not pressed very vigorously until Felix Haas took charge early in 1962 …”

(“The Origins of Computing and Computer Science at Purdue University”, by Saul Rosen and John R. Rice, August 1990, Department of Computer Science, Purdue University)

But Fein’s prospect was short-lived. Unlike Stanford taking a step-by-step approach, Purdue quickly decided to establish a computer science department in 1962 and let the founding department chairman also assume the center directorship:

“During the spring and summer of 1961 there was an active search for a permanent head of the Division of Mathematical Sciences. There were negotiations with Dr. F. Joachim Weyl who was director of the Naval Analysis Group in the Office of Naval Research. Weyl withdrew his name from consideration and the position was offered to Felix Haas who was head of the Mathematics Department at Wayne State University. Haas accepted the position during the summer, with the understanding that he would start at Purdue in January, 1962.

… By the beginning of 1962 many universities, including most Big Ten universities, had requested, and some had already received, grants from the National Science Foundation under a program initiated in 1956 in support of institutional computer facilities at universities. … The most important effort of the Computer Sciences Center under Haas and Pyle in the spring of 1962 was to produce an NSF proposal that requested $920,000 to help finance the acquisition of the IBM 7044 and to support related programs in computer service, research and instruction.

… Haas recalls a meeting with Hawkins and Hovde, probably before he officially started at Purdue. in which they agreed that the Division of Mathematical Sciences would be organized internally into three academic departments, Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science, plus a Computer Sciences Center that would provide computing services for the whole university. It was considered only natural then that the head of the Department of Computer Sciences would also be the director of the Computer Sciences Center.”

(Saul Rosen and John R. Rice, August 1990, Department of Computer Science, Purdue University)

As in the above, the National Science Foundation had initiated a program in 1956 to support universities to establish computer facilities, and it helped make university computer science viable.

The year 1956 saw a considerable number of interesting events in the computing field, as in Part 5 (i): John von Neumann was in hospital treatment for cancer and made the decision to move from the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton to the University of California, a move that did not happen as he soon died in early 1957; the Army math research center at Wisconsin-Madison was founded; the long reign of Thomas J. Watson, Sr. at IBM ended and the rule was passed to his son, Watson, Jr.; and IBM established its San Jose research laboratory in the future Silicon Valley in California.

In 1956 John von Neumann also played a key leading role in the NSF initiative to fund academic computing facilities:

“… during the early 1950s, NSF support for computer science was modest and was channelled through its mathematics research program. This picture changed as a result of the 1956 endorsement by the Advisory Panel on University Computing Facilities (chaired by John von Neumann) of a specialized NSF program for the support of computer science, the 1957 launch of Sputnik, and the passage of the National Defense Education Act in 1958. NSF support for computer science research grew rapidly after 1958, and was especially important in meeting the critical need of academic researchers for computer equipment. Between 1957 and 1972, the National Science Foundation expended $85 million to support the purchase by more than 200 universities of computer hardware.”

(“The Federal Government Role in the Development of the American Software Industry: An Assessment”, by Richard N. Langlois and David C. Mowery, in David C. Mowery, ed., The International Computer Software Industry: A Comparative Study of Industrial Evolution and Structure, 1996, Oxford University Press)

In the academic computing field that I was in during the 1980s and 1990s, Purdue University was known as a practically inclined Midwest school, different from the intellectually inclined West-Coast UC Berkeley and Stanford.

The last quote from the article by Saul Rosen and John R. Rice shows that practical speediness: in 1961 a new head of Purdue’s division of mathematical sciences, Felix Haas, was hired to start in 1962; prior to arrival, Haas already reached an agreement with Purdue to start a new computer science department alongside the existing mathematics and statistics departments in the division; upon arrival, Haas immediately applied for NSF funding to purchase a new IBM computer and to support “computer service, research and instruction” while the preparation for a new computer science department was underway.

Like Louis Fein, Purdue computer science department’s founding chairman Sam Conte had a background working in military-oriented technology companies; but unlike Fein, Conte had been a university professor:

“Having decided that there was going to be a Computer Sciences Department. Haas moved rapidly to recruit a department head. Bill Miller, who was then head of the Division of Applied Mathematics at Argonne, was approached. but when he removed himself from consideration the position was offered to Sam Conte. Conte had been an Associate Professor in the Mathematics Department at Wayne State University up to 1956, before Felix Haas came to Wayne State. Since 1956 Conte had worked for five years at Space Technology Laboratories and then at Aerospace Corporation in California. where he was Manager of the Department of Programming and Analysis in the Computing Laboratory. At a meeting of the University Executive Council on March 12, 1962 Felix Haas announced that “Samuel Come, a distinguished scientist currently with Aerospace Corporation, will join the Purdue staff on July 1 to become Director of the Computer Sciences Center.” …

On October 24, 1962 President Hovde asked for and received approval from the Board of Trustees to change “. . . the internal administrative organization of the Division of Mathematical Sciences . . . effective October 1, 1962.” The Department of Computer Sciences and the Computer Sciences Center were listed as components of the division, along with Departments of Mathematics and Statistics, and a Statistical Laboratory. Professor S. D. Conte was listed as chairman of the Department of Computer Sciences and as Director of the Computer Sciences Center. …

After Sam Conte, the first faculty member hired for the new Computer Sciences Department was Saul Rosen. Conte had known Rosen at Wayne State University before they both left that university in 1956. Rosen then worked in the software area for Burroughs and Philco corporation and then as an independent consultant. He inquired of Conte about possible consulting work on the west coast and Conte suggested that he join the new Computer Sciences Department which he was forming at Purdue. …”

(Saul Rosen and John R. Rice, August 1990, Department of Computer Science, Purdue University)

As cited above, Conte had been an associate professor at Wayne State University before joining the aerospace industry.

Saul Rosen, the first Purdue computer science department faculty member cited above alongside Conte, had also been a Wayne State associate professor before joining the industry; Rosen had also earned his math Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, where ENIAC had been born.

(“Saul Rosen: 1922–1991”, RCAC, Purdue University)

Interestingly, the year when both Conte and Rosen left Wayne State for the industry was 1956 – just like a number of significant events in the computing field listed earlier.

In contrast, in his early career Louis Fein had only been a college math instructor with a master’s degree, as quoted earlier. Later he taught some computer courses here and there, including at Wayne State and Stanford:

“… Fein taught from 1952 to 1953 at Wayne State University a course on digital computer systems and then later in 1956, at Stanford University. …”

(May 4, 1973, Computer Oral History Collection, 1969-1973, 1977, Smithsonian National Museum of American History)

So, in my opinion Fein’s not getting what he wanted at Stanford or Purdue was due to his lack of established academic credentials: universities, either the elite Stanford or the practical Purdue, would choose established faculty members to lead their new departments, not someone with only temporary teaching experience, even if in Fein’s case he had strong records working in the industry and campaigning for such new departments – the rare case of Al Bowker’s hiring at Stanford and founding a new department before receiving the Ph.D. was not an instance of exception, in my view, but one of expediency of the inside track in the academia.

But as the last quote from the Purdue history article by Saul Rosen and John R. Rice indicates, within Purdue in the hiring of Conte and Rosen their industry pedigrees were emphasized, with Conte referred to as “a distinguished scientist currently with Aerospace Corporation”. The two’s most recent jobs had been at military-oriented technology companies: Space Technology Laboratories and Aerospace Corporation for Conte, and Philco Corporation for Rosen.

Space Technology Laboratories was the leading contractor for intercontinental ballistic missiles development, something John von Neumann had played a key role for as the U.S. Air Force’s principal scientific adviser as in Part 5 (i); Aerospace Corporation conducted research and development for the Air Force’s space and missile program; and Philco Corporation produced transistors and built computers for the U.S. Navy and the National Security Agency, and also for the commercial market.

(“Former TRW Space Park, now Northrop Grumman, designated as historic site for electronics and aerospace work”, by John Keller, December 18, 2011, Military & Aerospace Electronics; “ABOUT US: PROVIDING TECHNICAL AND SCIENTIFIC EXPERTISE FOR MORE THAN 55 YEARS”, Aerospace Corporation; and, “First-Hand: The Navy Codebreakers and Their Digital Computers – Chapter 2 of the Story of the Naval Tactical Data System”, by David L. Boslaugh, Engineering and Technology History Wiki)

Nonetheless, in that Purdue history I do notice another sign of a close-knit academia, i.e., besides my earlier comment on Al Bowker’s style as a lifelong academic: both of Purdue computer science department’s founding members had been faculty members at Wayne State University from which Purdue had just hired Felix Haas to lead the Division of Mathematical Sciences, overseeing the math and stats departments and establishing the new computer science department – apparently Haas then brought in former Wayne State associates to fill the founding roles, in another example of expediency of the inside track in the academia.

In October 1962, the Purdue board of trustees proudly noted the university founded the first academic computer science department in the U.S.:

“… The October 24 entry on the minutes of the board of trustees makes it very clear that a Department of Computer Sciences was officially established in the fall of 1962, and provides a firm basis for the claim that the first Computer Science Department at an American university was established at Purdue.”

(Saul Rosen and John R. Rice, August 1990, Department of Computer Science, Purdue University)

The mathematician and computer scientist Carl de Boor, a leader of the very successful spline functions research at the Army Math Research Center at Wisconsin-Madison and the Ph.D. study choice recommended for me by my undergraduate adviser in 1981-1982 as discussed in Part 4 and Part 5 (i), receiving his University of Michigan Ph.D. in 1966 first became a Purdue computer science faculty member:

“The first task of Samuel Conte as new department head was to hire some faculty and define a graduate program. … In the very first year, there were seven teaching faculty, including Conte, a numerical analyst. … Four were already at Purdue. Two new faculty were hired, Robert Korphage in theory and Saul Rosen in programming systems. …

In 1963 there were three new faculty members: Richard Buchi in theory, Walter Gautschi in numerical analysis, and John Steele in programming systems. … The following year John Rice was hired in numerical analysis, and this completed the initial phase of hiring.

No new faculty was hired in 1965, and only one, Carl de Boor in numerical analysis, was hired in 1966. De Boor was the first of a number of young Ph.D.s hired who became influential members of the department. …”

(“History of the Computer Sciences Department at Purdue University”, by John R. Rice and Saul Rosen, in John R. Rice and Richard A. DeMillo, eds., Studies in Computer Science: In Honor of Samuel D. Conte, Springer Science+Business Media, 1994)

De Boor later moved to the Army Math Research Center in 1972 – the year George Forsythe died and Marina von Neumann Whitman was appointed to the White House Council of Economic Advisers, as mentioned earlier.

(“CURRICULUM VITÆ: CARL(-WILHELM REINHOLD) de BOOR”, Department of Computer Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Madison)

So the elite Stanford was behind the practical Purdue.

And despite George Forsythe’s historical reputation as the most influential advocate for establishing computer science as a discipline, Stanford wasn’t even the second university to found a CS department.

The runner-up claim belongs to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which established its computer science department in 1964 – the year before Stanford in 1965.

UNC had made a very forward-looking move early, in February 1959, hiring John W. Carr, III as its Computation Center director.

Like Louis Fein, Carr had a pioneering background in computer development, but it was in academic settings at MIT and the University of Michigan after World War II service as a Navy electronics officer:

“A pioneer in the computer world, Mr. Carr received a doctorate in mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and began work there in 1949 with the university’s groundbreaking electronic computer, “Project Whirlwind.”

Then, after a year as a Fulbright scholar at the Sorbonne in Paris in 1950, he joined the staff at the University of Michigan, where he taught the first courses on computer applications and from 1952 to 1955 headed the construction and design of a digital computer.

While serving in the Navy during World War II, he studied radar design and became a lieutenant and the electronics officer aboard the Boxer, an Essex-class aircraft carrier.”

(“John Carr, Emeritus Professor At Penn”, by Bill Price, April 12, 1997, philly.com)

At Michigan, Carr not only became an associate professor of mathematics – like Sam Conte and Saul Rosen at Wayne State – but also a leader of the broader computing community as the president of the Association for Computing Machinery, before moving to UNC Chapel Hill; at UNC, the computation center he directed obtained a new computer, with support from the maker Sperry-Rand Corporation, the U.S. Bureau of the Census, and the National Science Foundation:

“In May, 1959, the Consolidated University of North Carolina will install a new Univac Scientific ERA-1105 Digital Computer in the new Physics and Mathematics Building now being built at Chapel Hill. Purchase of this machine was made possible through the support and cooperation of the Sperry-Rand Corporation, the Bureau of the Census, and the National Science Foundation.

… Beginning in February of this year Dr. John W. Carr, III, Associate Professor of Mathematics at the University of Michigan and former President of the Association for Computing Machinery assumed the post of Director of the Computation Center and Associate Professor of Mathematics at the University in Chapel Hill.”


John Carr’s academic credentials, in both teaching and computer development, were significant when he became the 6th president of the ACM with a 2-year term starting in 1956. It added one more milestone to the year 1956 when other significant events happened in the computing field as mentioned earlier, including an NSF initiative led by von Neumann’s efforts to start a special program to support university computing facilities: in Carr’s case, he became the first current university academic to serve as the ACM president.

ACM’s founding president was John H. Curtiss, the head of the Applied Mathematics Division at the National Bureau of Standards, as in Part 5 (i) with a leadership role at the INA at UCLA; ACM’s 2nd president was John W. Mauchly, as in Part 5 (i) one of the lead inventors of ENIAC at the University of Pennsylvania’s Moore School of Electrical Engineering, who by the time of his ACM presidency had co-founded his own computer company with ENIAC co-inventor John P. Eckert; ACM’s 3rd president was Franz Alt, who as in a quote in Part 5 (i) had been on the same Computations Committee with Derrick Lehmer overseeing ENIAC at the Aberdeen Proving Ground, and who then became deputy chief of the Computation Laboratory of the NBS; ACM’s 4th president was Samuel B. Williams, a retired Bell Laboratories computer pioneer, and an NBS consultant at the time of his ACM presidency; and ACM’s 5th president was Alston S. Householder, then director of the Mathematics Division at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

(“Margaret R. Fox Papers, 1935-1976. Finding Aid”, by Pat Hennessy, Kevin D. Corbitt and and John L. Jackson, August 1993, Charles Babbage Institute, Center for the History of Information Technology, University of Minnesota; “Alston Scott Householer”, by G.W. Stewart, October 1993, Volume 26, SIAM News; J. A. N. Lee, eds., International Biographical Dictionary of Computer Pioneers, 1995, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers; “Dr. Franz Alt”, by Atsushi Akera, January/February 2006, ACM Oral History interviews; “John W. Mauchly”, Encyclopædia Britannica; and, “ACM Past Presidents”, Association for Computing Machinery)

From my standpoint, John Carr’s becoming the first current university academic to serve as the ACM president signalled that by 1956 the wider computing community had come to view the academia as ready to play a significant role in the computing field.

Additionally of interest to me is the fact that this ACM president happened to be also a professor at a university math department when Stephen Smale, later my Berkeley Ph.D. adviser, earned his Ph.D. – in 1957 – while being a leading activist in left-wing and anti-war politics as detailed in Part 2.

(“Biography: Steve Smale”, Department of Mathematics, University of California, Berkeley)

However, subsequently in 1964 when the UNC Chapel Hill computer science department was founded, John Carr not only was not the founding chairman but was not even around at UNC. He had left in 1962 for the University of Pennsylvania:

“Mr. Carr joined the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania in 1962 as professor of electrical engineering and later taught computer science. From 1965 to 1971, he served as graduate group chairman in computer science and taught there until retiring in 1993.”

(Bill Price, April 12, 1997, philly.com)

That was electronic engineering at the University of Pennsylvania, i.e., the Moore School where the first electronic computer ENIAC had been born, where in 1965 Carr became the graduate group chairman in computer science – distinguished indeed even if it wasn’t a computer science department.

And to Carr’s credit, in that same year 1965 Moore school Ph.D. student Richard L.Wexelblat became the world’s “first person to receive a Doctorate in Computer Science from a recognized graduate program in Computer Science”.

(“History of CIS at Penn”, Department of Computer and Information Science, Penn Engineering)

Oh well, North Carolina’s loss was Pennsylvania’s gain.

Still, I wonder why Carr left, rather unexpectedly in the evolution of the history. Was it because UNC did not make it in time to be the first university to found a computer science department? That could be a reason because Penn he then moved to was the birthplace of the electronic computer – a consolation prize for him, that is.

Over the years at Penn, Carr reached out internationally and brought computer science knowledge to important places in the world, including China’s Jiao Tong University, and Egypt’s Air Force Academy as its computer science department head:

“Mr. Carr developed contacts with computer scientists around the world, lecturing in the former Soviet Union and in China, where he was appointed adjunct professor of computer science at Jiao Tong University in Shanghai.

In the early 1970s, he was a visiting professor at the Mathematisch Centrum in Amsterdam, Netherlands, and at the University of Sydney, Australia.

In 1987, he headed the department of computer science at the Egyptian Air Force Academy near Cairo and oversaw the construction of a computer laboratory and curriculum development for cadets.”

(Bill Price, April 12, 1997, philly.com)

But unfortunately, John Weber Carr also became a victim of pancreatic cancer, in 1997:

“John Weber Carr 3d, 73, emeritus professor of computer science at the University of Pennsylvania School of Engineering, died of pancreatic cancer Tuesday at his home in Bryn Mawr.”

(Bill Price, April 12, 1997, philly.com)

Compared to the most influential computer science advocate, pancreatic cancer victim George Forsythe at 55, Carr lived a long life to 73; on the other hand, compared to the Stanford administrator who had facilitated Forsythe in taking the initial modest step of founding the computer science division within the math department, pancreatic cancer victim Al Bowker at 88, who like Carr had moved on to another institution before a historic computer science department was founded, Carr’s life was short.

I note that Carr died in the same year as Diana Forsythe and Mina Rees, i.e., George Forsythe’s daughter and Al Bowker’s mentor, respectively.

And Chapel Hill’s loss could also be a blessing in disguise.

In 1964 establishing the second computer science department among U.S. universities, UNC Chapel Hill recruited Alfred Brooks to be the founding chairman; a distinguished computer scientist who decades later in 1999 received the ACM’s A. M. Turing Award, the highest honor in computer science as mentioned in Part 3, Brooks has enjoyed a long life – now in retirement after 51 years at Chapel Hill – and a long memory of life even before John Carr’s days:

“Fred Brooks retired in 2015 after 51 years at UNC — but he started teaching long before he got here.

“I started regular teaching when I was in high school,” he said. “My senior year, one of the teachers came down with cancer mid-year and I got sworn in to teach geometry and trig because there wasn’t anyone else around to do it.”

Brooks started UNC’s computer science department and has worked with its faculty, staff and students since the 1960s. “Fred founded the department in the mid 1960s, and it is probably very difficult to believe this, but at the time, the notion of forming a free-standing computer science department at a liberal arts university was unheard of,” Kevin Jeffay, chairperson of the Department of Computer Science, said.

“So for that reason we are actually the second oldest computer science department in the country. So it was actually a bit of an experiment, and obviously one that worked very well.” Aside from founding the computer science department at UNC, Brooks also receieved the 1999 A. M. Turing Award, one of the most prestigious awards in the field of computer science. “It’s the equivalent of the Nobel Prize in computer science, so he’s internationally recognized as one of the brilliant computer scientists of our time,” Jeffay said.

Despite his achievements, Jeffay said he is very humble.

“He’s very modest and generous, always giving the credit to his students and to his collaborators,” he said. “He’s a wonderful colleague.”

Gary Bishop, a professor in the department, said Brooks is more than just his accomplishments. “He’s a giant, but he’s also a nice guy,” Bishop said.”

(“Founding UNC’s computer science department was an experiment — but it paid off for Fred Brooks”, by Maggie Budd, March 7, 2016, Daily Tar Heel)

Chapel Hill lost a former ACM president but gained a future winner of the ACM’s Turing Award. Isn’t a scientist of the highest professional honor as worthy as a top leader of the professional association?

Take a look at Brooks’s prior achievements before Chapel Hill, listed in his Turing Award biography, and one is really surprised:

Frederick Phillips Brooks, Jr. was born April 19, 1931, in Durham, North Carolina. … he earned his AB in physics at Duke University in 1953. Brooks then joined the pioneering degree program in computer science at Harvard University, where he earned his SM in 1955 and his PhD in 1956. At Harvard he was a student of Howard Aiken, who during World War II developed the Harvard Mark I, one of the largest electromechanical calculators ever built, and the first automatic digital calculator built in the United States.

After graduation Brooks was recruited by IBM, where for the first several years of his career he served in various positions in Poughkeepsie and Yorktown Heights, New York. During that time he helped design the IBM 7090 “Stretch” supercomputer… Stretch was IBM’s first transistorized computer, containing some 150,000 transistors. Although it was a commercial failure, it pioneered a number of advanced concepts quite important to contemporary computing… Brooks went on to participate in the design of the architecture of the IBM Harvest, a variant of the Stretch with special features for the National Security Agency. He later helped the government assess the computing capability of the Soviet Union.

Brooks was next assigned to help design the IBM 8000, a new transistorized mainframe computer intended to replace the IBM 700/7000 series. But by the early 1960s, the global market for computers was incredibly crowded, with numerous companies offering incompatible, proprietary systems. As customers replaced their older systems with faster ones, they realized that their investment in software was a growing problem, because they had to rewrite it for every new system. Bob Evans promoted IBM’s vision to develop a single product line of general purpose computers with a common instruction set that permitted customers to preserve their investment in software as the moved from slower machines to faster ones. Evans assigned Brooks to lead the team to design this product line, called the System/360, which was announced in 1964. Brooks coined the term “computer architecture” to mean the structure and behavior of computer processors and associated devices, as separate from the details of any particular hardware implementation.

The importance of the System /360 cannot be understated: it was a widely successful project that transformed the face of business computing and reshaped the landscape of the computer companies throughout the world. …

While the hardware architecture for the System/360 was well underway, it was clear that there was considerable risk in delivering the operating system for the new series of machines. Brooks was assigned to lead the software team in building what was perhaps the largest operating system project of its time. …

After the successful delivery of the System/360 and its operating system, Brooks was invited to the University of North Carolina, where he founded the University’s computer science department in 1964. …”

(“FREDERICK (“FRED”) BROOKS”, A. M. Turing Award, Association for Computing Machinery)

As described above, Alfred Brooks was the team leader of IBM’s revolutionarily successful System/360 computer that changed the face of business computing, and in the same year 1964 this IBM product was announced he was invited to be the founding chairman of Chapel Hill’s computer science department – at the age of only 33.

Brooks’s moving on from IBM to a good role in academic computer science was consistent with the fact that in the late 1950s and early 1960s IBM had become the main backer and influencer of academic computing activities:

“… Indeed, a survey of US academic computing in late 1959 argued that “it is fair to say that, in many cases, to the extent that a university computing activity has a purpose at all, it has been made for them by IBM.””

(Matti Tedre, The Science of Computing: Shaping a Discipline, 2015, CRC Press)

I notice that Brooks received his Harvard Ph.D. in 1956, the year so many significant events occurred in the computing field.

However, I note that by his Turing Award biography Brooks had not been a university faculty member prior to the Chapel Hill founding chairman job, having worked exclusively at IBM – even if in the 2015 story of his retirement quoted earlier, Brooks emphasized that he had begun teaching as a high school senior substituting for a cancer-stricken math teacher.

In light of the above fact, I have to modify my earlier-stated conclusion regarding Louis Fein’s grievance of not having been given a founding position in computer science: Brooks’s case illustrated that someone without established academic credentials, i.e., not having been a university professor, could still be the founding chairman of the second, if not the first, computer science department in the U.S., provided the person had an exceptionally strong computer industry record – in this case with an IBM brand name.

In other words, Fein could wish he had been a chief engineer for a brand-name IBM computer, rather than a Raytheon computer few knew about.

Experience in a military-oriented technology company like Raytheon, or those Purdue’s Conte and Rosen had worked in, was a significant credential; but Brooks’s experience at IBM developing a computer for the National Security Agency seemed adequate substitute for such military-orientation prerequisite, if there was any – he was also a graduate of Duke University, where the U.S. Army Office of Ordinance Research was located as in Part 5 (i).

Still, Brooks’s IBM achievements may not have been the only reason that Chapel Hill invited him to found the second academic computer science department in the U.S.: as quoted from his Turing Award biography, Brooks had received his Harvard Ph.D. under Howard Aiken, who had during World War II led the development of the Harvard Mark I, “one of the largest electromechanical calculators ever built, and the first automatic digital calculator built in the United States”.

In the historical timeline, the Harvard Mark I had been built before ENIAC, and von Neumann had paid a visit to Aiken and Mark I before taking part in the ENIAC project, as previously quoted in Part 5 (i):

“In 1943, during World War II, von Neumann was invited to join the Manhattan project – the project to develop the atomic bomb – because of his work on fluid dynamics. He soon realized that the problems he was working on involved a lot of computational work which might take years to complete. He submitted a request for help, and in 1944 he was presented a list of people he could visit. He visited Howard Aiken and saw his Harvard Mark I (ASCC) calculator. …”

(“Doing Mathematics on the ENIAC. Von Neumann’s and Lehmer’s different visions”, by Liesbeth De Mol, in E. Wilhelmus, I. Witzke (eds.), Mathematical practice and development throughout History, 2008, Logos Verlag)

Thus Aiken had been a prominent computer pioneer ahead of von Neumann, the “father of computers”.

But Mark I was not an “electronic” computer, only “electromechanical”, and was not Harvard-built but IBM-built under Harvard professor Howard Aiken’s guidance:

“During Aiken’s initial years as a Harvard graduate student, he followed the usual program of studies. He then shifted his allegiance to the field of electronics, the physics of vacuum tubes, and the properties of circuits, working directly under Professor E. Leon Chaffee… He began teaching in his second year as a graduate student and, after receiving his PhD in 1938, was appointed a faculty instructor… Aiken never published any of the results of his thesis research; all of his published writings dealt with one or another aspect of computing and computers.

Aiken’s 1937 proposal for a calculating machine began with a series of paragraphs devoted to an account of the pioneers in machine calculation: Pascal, Moreland, Leibniz, and, above all, Babbage. …

… On May 10, 1939, about a year and a half after Aiken’s first approach to IBM, James Bryce wrote Aiken that all the papers had been signed and that he was now “engaged in getting an appropriation put through.” He would then “issue the shop orders” and “begin the actual work of designing and constructing the calculating machine.” …

In January 1943, the Harvard machine was completed in the North Street Laboratory at Endicott, N.Y., and ran a test problem. But only in December 1943 was the machine demonstrated to members of the Harvard faculty. …

On April 17, 1944, Harvard’s president, James Bryant Conant, reported to IBM’s president, Thomas J. Watson, Sr., that “the calculating machine” had been “put into operative condition.” …

The IBM ASCC (the Harvard Mark I) was the first of a series of four computers associated with Howard Aiken. Mark I and Mark II were electromagnetic, using relays, but Mark III and Mark IV had a variety of electronic components, including vacuum tubes and solid-state transistors. …”

(“Howard Hathaway Aiken”, by J. A. N. Lee, 1995, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.)

Besides leading the development of “the first automatic digital calculator” built in the U.S. and the subsequent Mark II, III & IV machines, Aiken’s pioneering contributions to the computer field included founding the world’s first academic program in the future discipline of computer science – years before computer science departments, influenced by it, came into existence:

“Howard Aiken’s place in the history of computers, however, is not to be measured by these four machines, interesting and important as they may have been. He recognized from the start that the computers being planned and constructed would require mathematicians to program them, and he was aware of the shortage of such mathematically trained men and women. To fill this need, Aiken convinced Harvard to establish a course of studies leading to the master’s degree, and eventually also the doctorate, in what was to become computer science. Just as Aiken–by the force of his success, abetted by his ability to find outside funding for his programs–achieved tenure and rose to become the first full professor in the new domain of computer science, so he inaugurated at Harvard what appears to have been the first such academic program anywhere in the world. The roster of his students contains the names of many who became well known in this subject, including Gerrit Blaauw, Frederick Brooks, Jr., Kenneth Iverson, and Anthony Oettinger. As other later programs came into being, they drew directly or indirectly on Aiken’s experience at Harvard. …”

(J. A. N. Lee, 1995, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.)

Therefore, Alfred Brooks’s IBM achievements and founding of the UNC Chapel Hill computer science department were also matters of the pride and distinction of his scientific lineage following his teacher, who had been the inventor of the first automatic digital calculator in the U.S. and the founder of the first academic computer science program in the world.

A question then naturally arises, in comparison to von Neumann: given Aiken’s prominent pioneering achievements why hasn’t he been regarded, like von Neumann has, as the “father of computers”, or at least a “father of computers”?

One clear reason is that Aiken’s first “calculating machine” wasn’t electronic. As quoted earlier, his Ph.D. research had been in electronics, especially vacuum tubes that would be the basic electronics building blocks, but he never published in that field, instead spending his time on the calculating machines project which, for Mark I and Mark II, did not use vacuum tubes like ENIAC did.

Aiken was very conservative, preferring to use only reliable components, and in those days mechanical relays were much more reliable than electronics, albeit much slower:

“… Of the four, Mark I was the most memorable because it produced such reliable results, and could run continuously for 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Thus, although it was very slow compared with any of the electronic machines, it produced a huge output–since unlike its electronic rivals, which had long “down times”–it ran continuously. …

… The Mark I was used at Harvard by a US Navy crew that included Grace Murray Hopper and Richard Bloch. Aiken was extremely conservative in his use of well-tested, well-understood elements, using electromechanical decimal rotary counters and relays…”

(J. A. N. Lee, 1995, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.)

As a result of that conservatism, Aiken’s technology for Mark I & II was soon rendered obsolete by the emergence of the electronic ENIAC:

“… Of course, by 1946, when Mark II was becoming operational, ENIAC (the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer, built for the Ballistic Research Laboratory at Aberdeen, Maryland, by the University of Pennsylvania’s Moore School of Electrical Engineering) had been completed and had demonstrated the enormous advantage of electronic elements over relays in large-scale computing machines. The path to the future thus was shifted from Aiken’s machines to ENIAC. Although Mark I and Mark II continued to do useful work for many years (which may be taken as an index of the increasing national need for computing services), their technology was obsolete.”

(I. Bernard Cohen and Gregory W. Welch with Robert V. D. Campbell, eds., Makin’ Numbers: Howard Aiken and the Computer, 1999, MIT Press)

There might also be doubt as to whether Aiken’s Harvard Ph.D. expertise in vacuum tubes was actually applicable to building an electronic computer:

“Although Aiken’s field of science for his doctorate was electron physics, and although the subject of his dissertation was space charge within vacuum tubes (or electron tubes), his expertise was in the physics of vacuum tubes and not in electronics, not in the design and application of circuits using vacuum tubes. …”

(I. Bernard Cohen, Howard Aiken: Portrait of a Computer Pioneer, 2000, The MIT Press)

A second reason why Aiken has not but von Neumann has been regarded as the “father of computers” is von Neumann’s strong advocacy for the “stored program”, which led to the notion of the “von Neumann architecture” discussed in Part 5 (i).

Aiken, in his conservatism, did not trust “stored program” and so his Mark machines, I, II, III & IV, never became modern general-purpose computers:

“… Aiken is sometimes held to be reactionary because he was always wary of the concept of the “stored program” and did not incorporate it into any of his later machines. This stance did put him out of step with the main lines of computer architecture in what we may call the post-Aiken era, but it must be kept in mind that there are vast fields of computer application today in which separate identity of program must be maintained, for example, in telephone technology and what is known as ROM (“read-only memory”). In fact, computers without the stored-program feature are often designated today (for instance, by Texas Instruments Corporation) as embodying “Harvard architecture,” by which is meant “Aiken architecture.””

(J. A. N. Lee, 1995, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.)

Aiken’s conservatism also meant that his work did not carry the broader relevance and potential like the work of von Neumann, who subsequently became a prominent leader of U.S. science as detailed in Part 5 (i).

On the other hand, compared to John von Neumann, Howard Aiken enjoyed many more years of life.

Depending on the biographical source, Aiken was born on March 8 or 9, 1900, in New Jersey.

(“Howard H. Aiken: 1964 Harry H. Goode Memorial Award Recipient”, IEEE Computer Society; and, “Howard Hathaway Aiken”, Encyclopædia Britannica)

So when von Neumann died of cancer in February 1957 at the age of 53, Aiken was already nearly 57. He was alive, but had become even more conservative, and out-of-date in his scientific knowledge – a fact even Alfred Brooks, a Harvard Ph.D. graduate under Aiken and one of Aiken’s “most devoted disciples”, later acknowledged:

“In certain respects, Aiken had rapidly become a conservative figure in the world of computing. In the 1950s he was already “old” by the standards of this rapidly advancing science, art, and technology. Computer science and invention had become a young man’s game. … In the words of Maurice Wilkes, the new computer innovators were young men with “green fingers for electronic circuits,” many of whom had come from experience with radar and “were used to wide bandwidths and short pulses.”

… Even Fred Brooks, one of Aiken’s most devoted disciples, admitted in retrospect that the Harvard Comp Lab had a “Charles River view of the world”—that the students were not fully aware of the developments taking place in other institutions (including MIT, just down the river).”

(I. Bernard Cohen, 2000, The MIT Press)

But Howard Aiken had his own bigger ambitions, namely to become a businessman and to start his own computer company.

Like others in the computing field, such as Louis Fein, Aiken was a consultant to military research projects, in his case at Lockheed Missile and Space Division in California; in 1961 Aiken retired early from Harvard with the intention of starting his own company, to develop microcomputers with the help of a “close associate”, Cuthbert Hurd, and a Lockheed assistant director of engineering:

“In 1961, Aiken decided to take advantage of Harvard’s provision for early retirement and to begin a new career. He could have continued in his professorship for another five years, and possibly even for a few years after that. Instead, he chose to take advantage of a university rule that permitted tenured members of the faculty to retire at the age of 60. … Mary Aiken recalls that he had a disagreement with some member of the university administration and decided that the time had come to start a new life. …

Tony Oettinger has written that Aiken had always said that he was at least as smart as most businessmen and wanted to prove that he was right. Fred Brooks concurs in this opinion. In a telephone conversation with Cuthbert Hurd, who was a close associate of Aiken’s, especially after his retirement from Harvard, I was given confirmation of this reason for Aiken’s having retired early from Harvard. Hurd said that he had never discussed this matter with Aiken, but that on two or three occasions when Aiken was in California, where he was a regular consultant for the Lockheed Missile and Space Division, the two of them had “talked at great length about organizing a company.” “If we had done it and if it had been successful,” Hurd mused, “it would have been the first microcomputer computer company in the world.” Hurd told me that “an Assistant Director of Engineering at Lockheed . . . was doing the design work,” and that “Howard, along with that man and me” would form the new company. …”

(I. Bernard Cohen, 2000, The MIT Press)

“It would have been the first microcomputer computer company in the world”, as Aiken’s close associate Cuthbert Hurd later recalled, had they gone ahead and form the company together.

Rather intriguingly, Lockheed Missile and Space Division, based in the future Silicon Valley region of Northern California, had been founded in the same year 1956 as the occurrence of many significant events in the computing field mentioned earlier, such as the founding of the IBM San Jose research laboratory; Lockheed settled in the neighboring city of Sunnyvale:

“The Bayshore Freeway was still a two-lane road, and 275 acres of bean fields adjacent to Moffett Field were purchased in 1956 to become the home of Lockheed Missile & Space Division (now Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company). The company chose the site because of the stellar talent pool provided by nearby colleges and universities, the good weather, quality of living and proximity to an airport.

But while times seemed quiet, America was shrouded in uncertainty, and Lockheed was expanding its mission to confront the challenges of the Cold War. The Soviet Union had developed an offensive nuclear capability, and the United States was in desperate need of better intelligence to characterize the potential threat and respond accordingly.

Addressing both concerns, the first reconnaissance satellite, called Corona, and the Polaris submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) were designed and built in just a few short years by the company’s engineers and scientists — armed only with slide rules, mechanical calculators, the basic laws of physics and an abundance of imagination.

By 1960, the Sunnyvale population had reached 53,000 — a five-fold increase over what it was just 10 years earlier. Employees at Lockheed, by that time, topped 20,000. In parallel to the population boom, Sunnyvale would become a preferred location for many semiconductor and high-technology companies.”

(“Lockheed grew up with Sunnyvale”, Myles D. Crandall, February 25, 2007, Silicon Valley Business Journal)

It’s hard to believe but true, that the Lockheed military aerospace engineers came in 1956 “armed only with slide rules, mechanical calculators” – so primitive compared to the Southern California military aerospace companies like Raytheon, which had had their own computer development activities even in the early 1950s as reviewed in Part 5 (i) and as shown in Fein’s past work.

But at least they came; and soon some of them were eager – I would assume there were others besides an assistant director of engineering at a management level – to form a new company with Howard Aiken, the ‘godfather’ of mechanical calculators if I may say so, to develop microcomputers.

These Lockheed engineers may have also wished for computing help from Hewlett-Packard, the nascent Silicon Valley’s founding company – but HP wasn’t into it as later recalled by Silicon Valley pioneer Douglas Engelbart about that era, as discussed in Part 5 (i).

Nonetheless it was one more factor turning things in favor of Northern California in 1956, when in his hospital bed John von Neumann planned a move to the University of California, likely choosing Southern California’s UCLA over Northern California’s UC Berkeley as reviewed in Part 5 (i).

Lockheed’s 1956 arrival, initially at Stanford’s industrial park, also boosted that university’s Cold War-oriented scientific research guided by Provost Frederick Terman, with Lockheed bringing in two leading missiles and dynamics experts, Nicholas Hoff and Daniel Bershader, to Stanford’s faculty:

“… Lockheed’s Space and Missile Division, which decided to locate in Stanford’s industrial park in 1956, suggested that Terman let the company offer an appointment at Stanford to one of the nation’s leading aeronautical engineers, Nicholas Hoff, whom the company believed it would be unable to hire without this incentive. Hoff, head of aeronautical engineering at Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute, had received his degree from Stanford in the early 1940s and after the war had begun research on supersonic aircraft and missiles with the support of substantial military contracts. To Terman, Lockheed’s proposal was yet another way to link firmly the engineering school and industry and, at no cost to Stanford, to improve the aeronautical engineering program, which had been languishing for lack of funds since World War II. … Lockheed also arranged for the head of its gas dynamics division, Daniel Bershader, to teach part-time at Stanford; he soon received a permanent appointment. As a result of Lockheed’s selection of Hoff and Bershader, Stanford’s aeronautical engineering program shifted decisively from research on commercial airplane structures to research related to guided missiles and space vehicles. … ”

(Rebecca S. Lowen, 1997, University of California Press)

In 1956, even more important to Silicon Valley, and to the landscape of high technology, was the arrival of the semiconductor industry that would give meaning to the name “Silicon Valley”:

“In September 1955 William Shockley and Arnold Beckman agreed to found the Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory as a Division of Beckman Instruments “to engage promptly and vigorously in activities related to semiconductors.” Shockley rented a building … in Mountain View, California, began recruiting “the most creative team in the world for developing and producing transistors.” He attracted extremely capable engineers and scientists, including Gordon Moore and Robert Noyce, who learned about and developed technologies and processes related to silicon and diffusion while working there. In December 1956 Shockley shared the Nobel Prize in Physics for inventing the transistor, but his staff was becoming disenchanted with his difficult management style. They also felt the company should pursue more immediate opportunities for producing silicon transistors rather than the distant promise of a challenging four-layer p-n-p-n diode he had conceived at Bell Labs for telephone switching applications.

After unsuccessfully asking Beckman to hire a new manager, eight Shockley employees – including Moore and Noyce plus Julius Blank, Victor Grinich, Jean Hoerni, Eugene Kleiner, Jay Last and Sheldon Roberts – resigned in September 1957 and founded the Fairchild Semiconductor Corporation in Palo Alto. Many other employees, from technicians to PhDs, soon followed. Over the next decade, Fairchild grew into of the most important and innovative companies in the semiconductor industry, laying the technological and cultural foundations of Silicon Valley while spinning off dozens of new high-tech start-ups, including Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) and Intel. Shockley continued pursuing his four-layer diode but his company never realized a profit. Beckman sold the operation to Clevite Corporation in 1960. Shockley became a professor of electrical engineering and applied science at Stanford University.”

(“1956: Silicon Comes to Silicon Valley”, The Silicon Engine, Computer History Museum)

Described in the above, a 1957 rebellion by 8 disciples of William Shockley, a 1956 Nobel Physics Prize winner for his role in the invention of the transistor, at Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory against his “difficult management style” and orthodox scientific focus was a watershed event that led to the founding of the Fairchild Semiconductor Corporation by this younger generation of scientists and engineers, a company that would lay “the technological and cultural foundations of Silicon Valley”.

In that bustling environment, amidst a new semiconductor industry and the Lockheed engineers eager to take part, Howard Aiken, once a prominent computer pioneer and leading competitor to John von Neumann but not winning the recognition to be a “father of computers”, had a second chance in 1961 upon retiring from Harvard, to become the ‘father of microcomputers’ – if I may use the phrase.

Doing so in the fledgling Silicon Valley might even let Aiken share some glories of its founding with distinguished others, most notably Stanford Provost Frederick Terman – born like Aiken at the turn of the century and mentor to the Hewlett-Packard founders – and the Fairchild Semiconductor founding group – rebels against their conservative mentor William Shockley.

But this second chance did not materialize for Aiken, as Hurd later recalled that they did not follow through with the plan:

“… Aiken, Hurd continued, “wanted me to help raise the money.” They “never followed through” with this plan. “I thought that maybe he wanted to be rich,” Hurd concluded, “and was thinking about starting the company for that reason.””

(I. Bernard Cohen, 2000, The MIT Press)

Now I am curious. Why did Aiken and Hurd not follow through with their plan, given that, as quoted earlier, “an Assistant Director of Engineering at Lockheed . . . was doing the design work” already?

Hurd’s somewhat coy explanation was that Aiken “wanted me to help raise the money”, and he thought Aiken “wanted to be rich” and “was thinking about starting the company for that reason”.

Reading Hurd’s descriptions, I can see two possible scenarios why they did not follow through, both to do with money: one, the two men could not agree on ownership sharing, i.e., Hurd was unwilling to settle for the role of ‘helper’, feeling that Aiken wanted too much; and two, Hurd was idealistic and viewed Aiken as too money-oriented to be in computer development with.

Thus, finding out who Cuthbert Hurd was would help understand his mindset in relation to Aiken.

Hurd had also been a computer pioneer, a key driving force behind IBM’s first commercial general-purpose computer, IBM Model 701, the so-called “Defense Calculator” discussed in Part 5 (i), that was launched during the Korean War era:

“Dr. Hurd was a mathematician at the Atomic Energy Commission laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tenn., when he joined I.B.M. in 1949 as its director of applied science. A year later, after the outbreak of the Korean War, he was one of two people assigned to determine how I.B.M. could contribute to the war effort.

Making a bold proposal, Dr. Hurd and his partner, James Birkenstock, recommended that the company design and build a general-purpose computer, bearing the heavy expense itself so that I.B.M. would own the patents. The new machine, the I.B.M. 701, cost $3 million to develop and was introduced with great fanfare in 1952, putting I.B.M. on the path to becoming the dominant force in the computer industry.

Dr. Hurd went on to help develop several other I.B.M. computers and served as a consultant to the company for years after leaving in 1962 to become chairman of the board of the Computer Usage Company, the first independent computer software company. …”

(“Cuthbert Hurd, 85, Computer Pioneer at I.B.M.”, by Laurence Zuckerman, June 2, 1996, The New York Times)

Given Hurd’s backgrounds as above, the first scenario why Aiken and Hurd did not materialize their plan to start a computer company is quite possible: having been a key IBM computer-development executive, Hurd was not content with just helping “raise the money” for the more famous Aiken while settling for much less himself; interestingly, Hurd left IBM in 1962, the year after Aiken had left Harvard in 1961, and so the timing was right for the two to consider start a computer company together; the fact that Hurd, originally a mathematician, left IBM to become the board chairman of “the first independent computer software company”, the Computer Usage Company, confirmed that he deserved a top leadership position in a smaller company.

It also made logical sense in this context that, without collaboration with Aiken, Hurd would focus on computer software and usage, not on developing computers.

Not getting to found the world’s first microcomputer company, Aiken, who decades earlier before attending graduate school had been a chief electrical engineer at the Madison Gas and Electric Company in Wisconsin, in 1961 indeed became a businessman in New York, while also spending part of his academic retirement time in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, as the University of Miami’s “Distinguished Professor of Information Technology”:

“… While in high school he also worked twelve hours a night at the Indianapolis Light and Heat Company. In 1919 he entered the University of Wisconsin, in Madison, supporting himself throughout his four years there by working as an operating engineer at the Madison Gas and Electric Company. Aiken received a degree in electrical engineering in 1923; he continued to work for Madison Gas, now as chief engineer, responsible for the design and reconstruction of the company’s electric generating station. He remained with Madison Gas until 1928.

After spending ten years as an electrical engineer, Aiken felt he had chosen the wrong field. He decided to study mathematics and physics, and enrolled for a year at the University of Chicago for that purpose. He continued his studies at Harvard, where he obtained a master’s degree in physics in 1937 and a doctorate in physics in 1939. …

In 1961 Aiken retired from Harvard and moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He became Distinguished Professor of Information Technology at the University of Miami, helping the school set up a computer science program and a computing center. He also founded Howard Aiken Industries Incorporated, a New York consulting concern. He had always told friends that a good professor with half a mind should be able to run circles around people in industry. Now he would prove it. He said he would spend the remainder of his life trying to make money, and he did just that.”

(Robert Slater, Portraits in Silicon, 1987, The MIT Press)

As indicated in the above, Aiken’s friends, not just Hurd, knew that Aiken always wanted to make money as a businessman in the industry; in my opinion, even the name he chose for his company, Howard Aiken Industries Incorporated, showed his ambition very clearly that it would be his own industries.

Aiken’s company specialized in taking over ailing companies, fixing and then selling them:

“… Essentially, Aiken Industries specialized in taking over companies that were ailing and bringing them back to good health, at which point they were sold. He could not help but be active at the university level, and he accepted a part-time teaching post at the nearby University of Miami, becoming a colleague of John Curtiss.”

(I. Bernard Cohen, 2000, The MIT Press)

I have to wonder how much Aiken, busy making money in his industries, actually really worked on “setting up a computer science program and a computing center” at the University of Miami as in the second previous quote, since as in the above quote John Curtiss was already a professor there. As reviewed earlier and in Part 5 (i), Curtiss, a former head of the applied mathematics division at the National Bureau of Standards overseeing the INA at UCLA, and the founding president of the ACM, had been fired from the Bureau in 1953 – a victim of McCarthyism-type politics.

Richard McGrath, a lawyer in a senior role at Aiken Industries, later confirmed that he and others were “helping him to build his company” – Howard Aiken Industries Inc., later called Norlin Technologies Inc. – “assisted” Aiken and “managed … for Howard” – the kind of role Cuthbert Hurd had likely been unwilling to accept:

“I was able to learn more about Aiken’s activities during the years after his retirement from Harvard from Richard McGrath, an attorney who was closely associated with Aiken from 1962 to 1973. During these years, McGrath—accompanied by Martin Flaherty and James Marsh—was “almost constantly on the road” with Aiken, “helping him to build his company (which was originally known as Howard Aiken Industries Inc. but was later called Norlin Technologies Inc.).” The three of them “assisted” Aiken in the “process of acquiring companies that became divisions of Aiken Industries.” According to McGrath, Flaherty and Marsh “then managed several of the companies for Howard” while he served in a legal capacity.”

(I. Bernard Cohen, 2000, The MIT Press)

According to McGrath, Aiken’s management style was “like a visiting fireman”:

“McGrath remembers Aiken as “a born teacher and mentor” who “left an indelible imprint on all our lives.” … What McGrath found particularly noteworthy was Aiken’s “management style,” the way in which “he put together a highly successful high technology company with multiple divisions, without ever having an office or secretary of his own.” Aiken, McGrath concluded, “literally worked out of his hat,” perfecting “the art of visitation, traveling from division to division like a visiting fireman.””

(I. Bernard Cohen, 2000, The MIT Press)

I can imagine Charles River water literally pouring out of the magic hat of this “visiting fireman”.

If Howard Aiken thought of himself and his name as the real worth, it shouldn’t have been unexpected. The relationship between Aiken, Harvard and IBM in the development of Harvard Mark I had illustrated the prominent sense of special importance Aiken and Harvard regarded themselves with.

The Harvard-IBM agreement for building the Mark machines clearly defined the special privilege position Harvard had over IBM:

“By March 31, 1939, the final agreement had been drawn up and signed. IBM agreed (1) “to construct for Harvard an automatic computing plant comprising machines for automatically carrying out a series of mathematical computations adaptable for the solution of problems in scientific fields.” Harvard agreed (2) to furnish “without charge” the structural foundation, and (3) to appoint “certain members of the faculty or staff or student body” to cooperate with “the engineering and research divisions of IBM in completing the design and testing.” It was agreed (4) that all Harvard personnel assigned to this project would sign a standard “nondisclosure” agreement to protect IBM’s proprietary technical and inventive rights. IBM (5) would receive no compensation, nor were any charges to be made to Harvard. The finished “plant” would become “the property of Harvard.” …”

(J. A. N. Lee, 1995, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.)

In the 5-point agreement above between IBM and Harvard, other than Point (2) that was logically Harvard’s role to provide the space to house the machines, and Point (4) that prevented Harvard personnel from disclosing IBM proprietary information, the stipulations were in Harvard’s favor: it obliged IBM to pay for building the Mark machines, do the construction with the involvements of some Harvard personnel, and give the product’s full ownership to Harvard.

Moreover, after Mark I’s completion when IBM president Thomas Watson, Sr. was going to attend the Harvard ceremonies for its dedication, Harvard was so brimming of self-esteem that its press release did not want to acknowledge that the machine had been built by IBM, instead emphasizing that “the inventor, Commander Howard H. Aiken, U.S.N.R,” was in charge of the project; Harvard’s attitude really irritated Watson:

“The Harvard News Office, in close consultation with Aiken, prepared a news release. It was evidently not considered necessary to clear the release with IBM… The release was headed “World’s greatest mathematical calculator” and bore the statement: “The NAVY, which has sole use of the machine, has approved this story and set this release date [Monday papers, August 7, 1944].” The first five paragraphs … stated that the machine would be presented to Harvard by IBM, that it would solve many types of mathematical problems, that the presentation would be made “by Mr. Thomas J. Watson, president of International Business Machines Corporation,” that the machine was “new in principle,” and was an “algebraic super-brain.” Then followed the bold unqualified statement that “In charge of the activity…is the inventor, Commander Howard H. Aiken, U.S.N.R,” who “worked out the theory which made the machine possible.” It may be observed that not only was Aiken designated “the inventor,” but no reason had been given thus far for IBM being the donor-it had not even been mentioned that IBM had actually constructed the machine. In fact, in the whole eight pages, the only reference to IBM’s contribution was a single paragraph later on in the release.

Two years of research were required to develop the basic theory. Six years of design, construction, and testing were necessary to transform Commander Aiken’s original conception into a completed machine. This work was carried on at the Engineering Laboratory of the International Business Machines Corporation at Endicott, N.Y., under the joint direction of Commander Aiken and Clair D. Lake. They were assisted in the detailed design of the machine by Frank E. Hamilton and Benjamin M. Durfee.

It is said that when Watson arrived in Boston accompanied by his wife and first saw the news story, he became so irate that he even planned to return to New York without attending either the ceremonial luncheon or the formal dedication ceremonies.When Watson arrived at his hotel, he telephoned–so the story goes–to his Harvard hosts, threatening to boycott the ceremonies on the following day. Conant and Aiken thereupon rushed from Cambridge to Boston to placate Watson, who launched into a furious tirade against Aiken and (presumably) Harvard. Evidently Conant and Aiken succeeded in calming Watson, who did attend the dedication on the following day and gave a star performance.”

(J. A. N. Lee, 1995, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.)

Learning how Harvard and Aiken had treated IBM president Thomas Watson in the days of Mark I helps one understand that when a mid-level IBM executive like Cuthbert Hurd was interested in getting into business with Aiken in 1961-1962, it likely had to be Hurd helping Aiken build Aiken’s company – something lawyer Richard McGrath then did.

In 1967 Aiken retired again, this time from his own company – as quoted earlier it was Howard Aiken Industries Inc. later renamed Norlin Technologies Inc. – and became its vice chairman of the board; again, Aiken did not fully retire but returned to working as a computer consultant for big technology companies, now Monsanto in addition to Lockheed:

“During the 1973 interview, Hank Tropp questioned Aiken about aspects of his life and career after leaving Harvard. Aiken referred, first of all, to his “forming Aiken Industries, beginning in 1961” and his becoming “vice-chairman of the board” in 1967. “So now,” Aiken said, “I go to board meetings, but I’m not going at it the way I used to. . . . When they kicked me out of Harvard, I had to find a new job and that was Aiken Industries. And when they kicked me out, I had to find a new job and went into the consulting business. So now I spend a good deal of time at Monsanto.” … Aiken said that he had been a consultant at Lockheed “for many years,” but that he had “quit that this year.”

Once the subject had been brought up, Aiken felt the need to discuss the subject at length. “You can’t quit,” he said. “At the time you quit, you’ve had it.” “If I were to quit work and sit here in this study,” he continued, “I think I’d be dead very soon. I don’t think I’d last.”

… During his last years, Aiken continued his long-time service for the aerospace industry in California, making periodic visits to Lockheed Missiles Company. Cuthbert Hurd gave me a list of some people with whom Aiken was associated in California when he used to come out to the West Coast on his regular visits. One of them was George Garrett, who, Hurd informed me, “was for a while the Director of Computer Activities at Lockheed Missiles. Howard and George saw a great deal of each other for a certain period.” …”

(I. Bernard Cohen, 2000, The MIT Press)

Just like I have remarked earlier, Howard Aiken was a “godfather” of what Lockheed Missiles was doing in the computing field – and he did his work by regularly visiting like a fireman.

By now Aiken was rich, and he continued to care about developing microcomputers, or what would become “personal computers”; in 1970, Aiken again discussed with Cuthbert Hurd a plan to start a new computer company, PANDATA, this time as the investor he would offer Hurd the board chairman position:

“Hurd, on another occasion, gave some further details on a new company that Aiken had proposed to form. He recalled that he, Aiken and William Main had met several times in 1970 “to discuss the formation of a corporation to be called PANDATA.” The three had “discussed the idea of what was to become a microprocessor and personal computer.” Aiken, according to Hurd, “had an early vision of the usefulness of such devices,” “believed that they could be mass produced at a low cost,” and “wished to form an integrated company to manufacture and sell them.” Aiken wanted Hurd “to help form the company, be chairman of the board, and raise the money.” Aiken himself “wished to make a considerable investment in the new company.” …”

(I. Bernard Cohen, 2000, The MIT Press)

So it looked like that in 1970 Howard Aiken had a third chance, with his idea of “a microprocessor and personal computer”, to become the ‘father of personal computers’ this time.

The name of the third partner this time – the last time it would have been a Lockheed assistant director of engineering – was reported in Bernard Cohen’s biography of Aiken: William Main.

Main had been Aiken’s co-organizer of a 1962 symposium on switching theory in space technology, sponsored by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the Lockheed Missiles and Space Company in Sunnyvale.

(Howard Aiken and William F. Main, eds., Switching theory in space technology: [Symposium on the Application of Switching Theory in Space Technology, held at Sunnyvale, California, February 27-28 and March 1, 1962], 1963, Stanford University Press)

But again, a new computer company with Aiken and Hurd together did not materialize:

“… Hurd reported, however, that he “was busy at the time with other activities” and that Aiken “died before the venture could be launched.””

(I. Bernard Cohen, 2000, The MIT Press)

At least Hurd was interested this time in 1970, as quoted – apparently because he was offered the board chairmanship – but understandably he was already the board chairman of the Computer Usage Company and so would like to do it with Aiken sometime later.

With or without Hurd, Aiken continued to pursue his vision of miniaturization of computers – now with the Monsanto Chemical Company:

“One of Aiken’s final computer-related assignments in these post-retirement years was for the Monsanto Chemical Company, which was trying to develop magnetic bubbles as the basis of a new memory technology. At the time of the 1973 interview, Aiken was enthusiastic about magnetic-bubble technology. This led him to talk about miniaturization in general. He had on the table a hand-held Bowman electronic calculator, and he showed an obvious sense of delight as he discussed how powerful a tool this small device was. He said that he foresaw a time when a machine the size of this calculator would be more powerful than mainframe computers. …”

(I. Bernard Cohen, 2000, The MIT Press)

Aiken also found someone else to help him, Dick Bloch, who started a new company Genesis to invest in new technology ideas – the concept was reminiscent of Aiken Industries, but through starting new companies instead of buying old companies, and then selling the stake:

“… Aiken had never been concerned to patent his innovations while a member of the Harvard faculty, and the innovations he produced for Monsanto were patented in the company’s name rather than his. But he was concerned with a patent for one of his own inventions, the creation of his last retirement years. The invention in question was related to the general problems of encryption and decoding and the security of computer data.

Aiken went into some detail about this most recent invention and the company that was in the process of being organized to exploit his innovations in relation to the security of computer information. “That’s the Information Security Corporation,” Aiken said. It was “being formed by Dick Bloch to exploit a cryptographic invention of mine.” The parent company was called Genesis. In an earlier interview with Bloch, Tropp discovered that the primary mission of Genesis was to seek new ideas that could be exploited commercially and then to find financing. Once the venture was started, Genesis would provide the early management; as soon as the company was able to stand on its own feet, however, Bloch and Genesis would, in a sense, “get out and look for something else.” …”

(I. Bernard Cohen, 2000, The MIT Press)

The man Aiken referred to, Dick Bloch, or Richard Bloch as in an earlier quote about a Navy crew using Harvard Mark I, had been the chief operating officer of Aiken’s Mark I project, and then an executive in the aerospace and computer industries:

“Richard M. Bloch, a pioneer in the development and design of digital computers, died of cancer on May 22 in Framingham, Mass. He was 78 and lived in Marlborough, Mass.

As chief operations officer at Harvard University’s Computation Laboratory in the 1940’s, Mr. Bloch helped design and program the first automatic digital computer, the Mark 1.

Over the succeeding years, Mr. Bloch held a number of administrative positions in the rapidly growing computer industry, including general manager of the computer division of Raytheon, vice president for technical operations at Honeywell, vice president for corporate development at the Auerbach Corporation and vice president of the advanced systems division of General Electric.

He was also chairman and chief executive of the Artificial Intelligence Corporation and the Meiko Scientific Corporation.”

(“Richard Bloch, 78, Pioneer in Digital Computers”, by William H. Honan, May 29, 2000, The New York Times)

What a pity! The inventor of the world’s first “automatic digital computer” – officially a “calculating machine” as cited earlier – after becoming a businessman for over a decade and getting rich, in the end still had to rely on a former deputy from his first Harvard project 3 decades ago to get his new technology ideas into business.

And that company, Genesis, and its subsidiary Information Security Corporation set up to exploit a cryptographic invention of Aiken’s as in the second previous quote, likely did not succeed since Bloch’s The New York Times obituary made no mention of either.

Noteworthy in Bloch’s May 29, 2000 obituary is the fact that he was once the general manager of Raytheon’s computer division – presumably the place Louis Fein had once worked developing a computer for the Navy in Southern California.

I note that Richard Bloch was also a victim of cancer, although at the age of 78 he faired better than John Carr at 73.

Aiken’s 1973 interview by Henry Tropp quoted in Bernard Cohen’s biography of Aiken, in which Aiken talked about his consulting for Monsanto, his quitting Lockheed consulting that year, and a new company with Dick Bloch, was conducted on February 26-27.

(“Interviewee: Howard Aiken (1900-1973) Interviewers: Henry Tropp and I.B. Cohen”, February 26-27, 1973, Smithsonian National Museum of American History)

About 10 days later it was Aiken’s birthday – March 8 or 9 as mentioned earlier – and a few days after that, on March 14 Howard Aiken died in his sleep in a hotel in St. Louis, Missouri, during a consulting visit to Monsanto:

“Howard Aiken died in his sleep in a hotel in St. Louis on 14 March 1973. He was in St. Louis for one of his regular consultations with Monsanto. He was 73 years old.”

(I. Bernard Cohen, 2000, The MIT Press)

Aiken was 73, the same age John Carr died at decades later, although Aiken wasn’t a victim of cancer that Carr would be.

In comparison, John Curtiss, Aiken’s retirement colleague at the University of Miami, former founding president of ACM and a victim of McCarthyism-type politics at the National Bureau of Standards, later died in 1977 at only 67; Curtiss was also a Harvard Ph.D. alumnus.

(J. A. N. Lee, eds., 1995, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers)

From my angle of analysis, Aiken lived a relatively long life compared to his contemporary leading computer pioneer John von Neumann who is regarded as the “father of computers” that Aiken isn’t – 20 years longer – whereas Carr lived a relatively short life compared to his contemporary computer science pioneer Alfred Brooks, who is living and in 2015 retired from UNC Chapel Hill at 84.

But Aiken missed at least two further chances, following his early retirement from Harvard to enter the industry, to become the ‘father’ of something in the computer world – microcomputers, then personal computers – as a result of his would-be collaborator Cuthbert Hurd not going forward with it each time, by Hurd’s own candid admission.

As quoted earlier, Cuthbert Hurd later said that that Aiken “died before the venture could be launched”, referring to the company PANDATA he, Aiken and William Main talked about in 1970 – the second and last such chance for Aiken – for developing “a microprocessor and personal computer”.

The year after Aiken’s death, in 1974 Hurd left his board chairmanship at Computer Usage Company and started his own company, Cuthbert C. Hurd Associates:

“… From 1949 to 1962 he worked at IBM, where he founded the Applied Science Department and pushed reluctant management into the world of computing. Hurd later became director of the IBM Electronic Data Processing Machines Division.

After 1962 he served as chairman of the Computer Usage Company, the first independent computer software company, until 1974 when he formed Cuthbert C. Hurd Associates.”

(“Cuthbert Hurd: Biography”, Engineering and Technology History Wiki)

Now I begin to doubt Hurd’s sincerity.

If Hurd could leave IBM in 1962 following Aiken’s 1961 Harvard retirement and starting Aiken Industries, it suggested that he could get into a new business with Aiken, but that they did not reach an agreement that time.

But if Hurd then could leave the independent computer software company board chairmanship in 1974 after Aiken’s 1973 death, and had in effect agreed to “the venture” with Aiken in 1970 but just hadn’t “launched” it, why couldn’t he have left to launch it earlier? Aiken was already 70 years of age in 1970 when he asked Hurd to “help form the company, be chairman of the board, and raise the money” – at that age Aiken’s prospect of starting a new company very much dwindled in the twilight.

The pattern of the timing of Hurd’s departure from an over-decade-long corporate position, both in 1962 and 1974, that it was the year after something had happened with Aiken, showed that Hurd was repeatedly capable of changing a long-time career job, but just not doing it a little earlier to start a business with Aiken.

That leads to the second possible scenario raised earlier regarding why Hurd did not follow through with the plans to start a company with Aiken: Hurd might be idealistic, and dismissive or even contemptuous of Aiken’s preoccupation with getting rich. Note that the first scenario, Hurd and Aiken not agreeing on ownership sharing, as discussed became less likely in 1970 when Hurd was offered the board chair position and in effect agreed to launching a venture later.

It turned out that Cuthbert Hurd not only was a close associate of Howard Aiken’s but had been a close associate of John von Neumann’s also; and so a comparison of his attitudes toward Aiken versus toward von Neumann can help determine if the second scenario above was likely the case.

In a 1981 interview by Nancy Stern on the history of computer development in his personal experience, Hurd talked in great depth about von Neumann, referring to the name over 60 times, but mentioned Aiken only twice and only in the context of a von Neumann-Aiken rivalry as follows (name underline emphases added):

“STERN: Can you tell me about when you first met Von Neumann?

HURD: I’m fuzzy, I don’t know whether it was 1947, or 1948. I met him at some meeting of the American Mathematical Society. I don’t know whether it was in Washington or New York. Some place east with the American Mathematical Society. And of course he was known as a great mathematician. It was also known he was interested in computers. …

STERN: Now when did you meet him again after that initial [time]?

HURD: I met him at normal times, up between whenever that was until the time I joined IBM. I met him at normal times in the sense of, there were a few conferences which we would now call computer conferences. And I’d see him around, at one of those places that he was on the program.

STERN: Can you recall where some of those conferences were? We’re talking about the Harvard computing conferences?

HURD: Yes. I would be fairly sure but not certain that he would not be at one.

STERN: Why not?

HURD: I don’t think that he and Aiken were close.

STERN: Well they both sat on the National Research Council Meeting.

HURD: I don’t think they were close.

STERN: Was it a kind of competition because they were both doing computing projects, do you think?

HURD: I think so, although neither one ever said that to me. Neither one ever said, I knew Howard Aiken very well. Neither of them ever said anything to me, derogatory or anything whatsoever about the other, but I just observed that those two gentlemen were not necessarily very close. …”

(“An Interview with CUTHBERT C. HURD”, by Nancy Stern, January 20, 1981, Charles Babbage Institute, The Center for the History of Information Processing, University of Minnesota)

In the above, Hurd clearly tried to emphasize that Aiken and von Neumann did not quite like each other. Given that, Hurd’s barely mentioning Aiken in this 1981 interview while detailing his relationship with, knowledge about and admiration of von Neumann clearly indicated his preference for von Neumann over Aiken.

Hurd talked about von Neumann’s quick mastery of the body of knowledge of psychiatry while terminally ill with cancer:

“STERN: Well, I was thinking even in terms of things that had nothing to do with what people tell me, but the conversion to Catholicism at the last minute would not be something one would expect from someone like Von Neumann.

HURD: That’s right and that was the one thing I was going to mention to you. And I never understood that. I didn’t. I didn’t have anything against it. He and I never talked about religion at all. We didn’t talk about philosophy, and I spent two and a half days a month for this period or whatever it was. Plus other times. And I had the impression somewhere along the line he became interested in psychiatry. And their was a colonel I think in the air force who was his psychiatrist, and somebody told me that when John got interested in psychiatry, that he quickly learned more about formal psychiatry, than the people who the psychiatrist knew. And I didn’t understand the significance of that. But I was told this, maybe by Klari. But other than that, I was surprised, because at the time of the funeral, let’s see, I went down and I hired a car, and I went to where Klari was and his family. Took them to church, wherever they went afterwards. It was a Catholic church. And I was a little surprised, because he never talked about religion.

STERN: … But was Klari surprised about the conversion?

HURD: I don’t remember her saying so. I don’t think she was Catholic either.”

(Nancy Stern, January 20, 1981, Charles Babbage Institute, The Center for the History of Information Processing, University of Minnesota)

In the above, Hurd did not explain why von Neumann had a psychiatrist, who was provided by the Air Force – as in Part 5 (i) von Neumann was a leading scientific adviser for the U.S. Air Force – presumably it was to help him cope with his life-ending illness.

As quoted, at the time of von Neumann’s death Hurd was very close to von Neumann’s family, and was the person chauffeuring and accompanying them to von Neumann’s church funeral and wherever they attended afterwards.

Both Hurd and the interviewer Nancy Stern expressed perplexity about von Neumann’s conversion to Catholicism prior to his death – von Neumann’s quick mastery of psychiatry happened around that time, when he also had an Air Force colonel psychiatrist.

On related scientific subjects, Hurd pointed out that von Neumann had full knowledge of neurophysiology, and had pioneering ideas for the mathematical analysis of the brain:

“STERN: Now in terms of this interest in psychiatry that you mentioned, he also had this interest in the McCulloch-Pitts research that related to the computer, or the brain as a kind of a computer. Did he speak about that at all, to you?

HURD: Well, yes. I think it would be clearer that he knew at that time as much about neurophysiology as was known.

STERN: That’s quite a statement considering he was a mathematician.

HURD: He believed, I am sure, that it was possible to find out how the brain works. There were ways to do that. And I think he had in his mind the way of going about discovering it. And he thought it was associated with what we now call software. The kind of coding, programs in the brain, and I could never find out how he intended to go about that. I’m convinced that he thought he could do that. Well we talked about that. And we also talked about his paper on how he proved that unreliable components can be used to produce a reliable machine. We used to talk about that. And how we arrived at that numerical analysis. …”

(Nancy Stern, January 20, 1981, Charles Babbage Institute, The Center for the History of Information Processing, University of Minnesota)

In the above two quotes, Hurd told of an von Neumann who could quickly master the full body of knowledge of various scientific disciplines, and who would try to pioneer studies of them from mathematical perspectives.

In what Hurd described, I can already see an instance of contrast between Aiken and von Neumann: the conservative Aiken would only use reliable components for his Mark I, and thus mechanical relays rather than electronic vacuum tubes, but the ambitious and brilliant von Neumann proved mathematically that “unreliable components can be used to produce a reliable machine”.

Hurd described von Neumann’s personality as friendly and approachable in spite of his greatness:

“HURD: … You asked once of a great man talking to the subordinates, in our association he never talked down to me. But in almost every case he always was far ahead of me in his thoughts about a subject. He never talked down to me, but I know he had lots of thoughts including the one that you just talked about, but he never discussed them.”

(Nancy Stern, January 20, 1981, Charles Babbage Institute, The Center for the History of Information Processing, University of Minnesota)

This particular view of von Neumann that Hurd gave is one John Nash, whose Ph.D. research idea was quickly dismissed by von Neumann, would likely disagree; as in Part 2, Nash’s impressions included that von Neumann, according to Sylvia Nasar in her book “A Beautiful Mind”, “had the preoccupied air of a busy executive”.

To the scientists close to von Neumann, such as Hurd, it was like a mystery that a mathematical genius – the only genius Hungary had produced in that era according to Nobel Physics Prize winner Eugene Wigner quoted in Part 5 (i) – who was born Jewish, near the end of his life converted to Catholicism; as Hurd said, quoted earlier, “I never understood that”, and “I was a little surprised”.

The economist Oskar Morgenstern, von Neumann’s collaborator and co-founder of the game theory in mathematical economics, was quite critical of von Neumann’s religious conversion:

Of this deathbed conversion, Morgenstern told Heims, “He was of course completely agnostic all his life, and then he suddenly turned Catholic—it doesn’t agree with anything whatsoever in his attitude, outlook and thinking when he was healthy.” …”

(William Poundstone, Prisoner’s Dilemma, 1993, Anchor Books)

Perhaps in his hospital bed von Neumann was no longer “agnostic” like Morgenstern had viewed him as, and no longer believed that the physical world at the quantum level was not governed by causality – a worldview he had advocated in relation to his mathematics of quantum mechanics, discussed in Part 4.

The conversion occurred when von Neumann knew he was terminally ill; he suddenly decided to do so, and Father Anselm Strittmatter, a Benedictine monk, baptized him and acted as his priest in his last year of life:

“As the end neared, von Neumann converted to Catholicism, this time sincerely. A Benedictine monk, Father Anselm Strittmatter, was found to preside over his conversion and baptism. Von Neumann saw him regularly the last year of his life.

… The conversion did not give von Neumann much peace. Until the end he remained terrified of death, Strittmatter recalled.”

(William Poundstone, 1993, Anchor Books)

I wonder if Father Anselm Strittmatter’s counselling influenced the decision by John von Neumann in 1956 while in hospital, who continued his work as a U.S. Atomic Energy Commissioner and key scientific adviser to the U.S. Air Force, to move to the University of California and focus on computer research – most likely at UCLA as in Part 5 (i) – and if so, whether it was due to increased fear of nuclear radiation – a factor disfavoring UC Berkeley as his choice as reviewed in Part 5 (i) – or some higher spiritual thought.

Originally in 1929 in Hungary, when von Neumann married his first wife Mariette, i.e., Marina von Neumann’s mother, with the marriage was his acceptance of the Catholic faith of hers, which von Neumann did not take seriously at the time:

“In 1929, … he was invited to lecture on quantum theory for a semester at Princeton. Upon being offered the job, he resolved to marry his girlfriend, Mariette Koevesi. He wrote back to Oswald Veblen of Princeton that he had to attend to some personal matters before he could accept. Von Neumann returned to Budapest and popped the question.

His fiancée, daughter of a Budapest doctor, agreed to marry him in December. Mariette was Catholic. Von Neumann accepted his wife’s faith for the marriage. Most evidence indicates that he did not take this “conversion” very seriously. …”

(William Poundstone, 1993, Anchor Books)

So von Neumann had not taken Catholicism seriously until near death. But back in 1929 his own family and Mariette’s family were all new or recent Jewish converts to Catholicism:

“Von Neumann married Mariette Kövesi in 1929 and their daughter Marina was born in 1935. The marriage broke up in 1936 and they divorced in 1937. In 1938, von Neumann went back to Budapest and married Klára (more tenderly, Klári) Dán. Both his wives came from converted Jewish families. Von Neumann and his family did not convert until after his father had died in 1929; then, they converted to Catholicism.”

(Balazs Hargittai and István Hargittai, Wisdom of the Martians of Science: In Their Own Words with Commentaries, 2016, World Scientific)

It isn’t clear from the above story if von Neumann’s nominal conversion to Catholicism in 1929 was a result of his marriage or his parental family’s insistence. But the last time before his death, von Neumann initiated to do so in a sincere manner. A Life magazine story on the life of John von Neumann following his death, described it in the same context as the prominent honors bestowed on him around that time:

“In April 1956 Von Neumann moved into Walter Reed Hospital for good. Honors were now coming from all directions. He was awarded Yeshiva University’s first Einstein prize. In a special White House ceremony President Eisenhower presented him with the Medal of Freedom. In April the AEC gave him the Enrico Fermi award for his contribution to the theory and design of computing machines, accompanied by a $50,000 tax-free grant.

Although born of Jewish parents, Von Neumann had never practised Judaism. After his arrival in the U.S. he had been baptized a Roman Catholic. But his divorce from Mariette had put him beyond the sacraments of the Catholic Church for almost 19 years. Now he felt an urge to return. One morning he said to Klara, “I want to see a priest.” He added, “But he will have to be a special kind of priest, one that will be intellectually compatible.” Arrangements were made for special instruction to be given by a Catholic scholar from Washington. After a few weeks Von Neumann began once again to receive the sacraments.”

(“Passing of a Great Mind: John von Neumann, a Brilliant, Jovial Mathematician, Was a Prodigious Servant of Science and His Country”, by Clay Blair, Jr., February 25, 1957, Volume 42, Number 8, Life)

According to the above high-profile Life story, von Neumann had not been a religious Jew to begin with, was baptized Catholic as a result of his first marriage and attended church with his first wife until their divorce.

In this sense, the late-life request for conversion should be described as a ‘reconciliation’; and as his demanded condition of a compatible priest showed, to the end von Neumann continued to perceive differences between the Catholic Church and his intellectual interests.

In a subsequent tragedy that serves as an eerie hidden context for the comparison earlier between the “great man” John von Neumann, the “father of computers”, and the “great man” George Forsythe, the most influential person in the emergence of computer science, von Neumann’s second wife Klara (Klari) later died of drowning in 1963, decades before the 1997 drowning of Forsythe’s daughter Diana whose life I have earlier contrasted to von Neumann’s daughter Marina’s. Here the incident was described by von Neumann’s friend, the mathematician Stanislaw Ulam:

“Klari was a moody person, extremely intelligent, very nervous, and I often had the feeling that she felt that people paid attention to her mostly because she was the wife of the famous von Neumann. This was not really the case, for she was a very interesting person in her own right. Nevertheless, she had these apprehensions, which made her even more nervous. She had been married twice before (and married a fourth time after von Neumann’s death). She died in 1963 in tragic and mysterious circumstances. After leaving a party given in honor of Nobel Prize-winner Maria Mayer, she was found drowned on the beach at La Jolla, California.”

(S. M. Ulam, Adventures of a Mathematician, 1991, University of California Press)

In his 1981 interview Cuthbert Hurd was also asked about his own contributions to the computing field, and he answered by paraphrasing the most important of his own contributions in the spirit of von Neumann’s, that von Neumann interacted with and convinced senior decision makers – Hurd cited the examples of the nuclear physicist Edward Teller heading the Lawrence Livermore national lab, and IBM president Thomas Watson – of the benefit of computers, while he interacted and communicated with engineers:

“STERN: To summarize what, what would you say Von Neumann’s most significant contributions to the computing field were?

HURD: I think they were, they were two quite different things. I think irrespective of who really had the ideas first, that the publication, the promulgation of those papers which he and Burks and Goldstine wrote. I think those were very important documents. The other thing was, Von Neumann because of his reputation as a mathematician would gain the confidence of people and because he was so highly articulate gave people confidence in the fact that a computer if built would work, it would be a success. And I want to support that thing by two, two instances. When I first met Teller, and I don’t know when that was, in 1954, and Livermore got one of the first Univacs and Livermore got one of the first 701s. When I first met him, Teller said to me that the fact that Von Neumann, for whom he had the greatest respect, and who had some experience with computers felt, that use of the computer would be highly useful at Livermore, that that fact was a deciding influence on Teller’s part, on deciding to make the investment. … It was a big investment to make a computer, in the stand point that you have to have people, so the confidence that he gave Teller was a very important thing for Teller, and of course as soon as Teller made the decision other people would make the decision on the same basis, just because Teller did. I can illustrate it another way. I talked to, I just happened to be talking to Tom Watson, over the phone to Watson, and he said “Cuthbert I always remember the time you brought Von Neumann up to see us, and Von Neumann gave us confidence in what we were doing”. …

STERN: Kind of legitimating the computing field in general?

HURD: Yes.

STERN: How about your own contributions if you were to sum them up? Your most significant to the computing field.

HURD: I want to be careful not to compare myself to Von Neumann in anyway, but in the same way that Von Neumann gave some key people confidence in the field, I think the fact, that I could talk with engineers and understand what they were doing in any detail I wanted to. I was also able to communicate with people about what I knew about computing. I think that’s it in contributions. …”

(Nancy Stern, January 20, 1981, Charles Babbage Institute, The Center for the History of Information Processing, University of Minnesota)

Reading this January 20, 1981 interview, in which he emphasized the von Neumann-Aiken rivalry as computer pioneers and gave glowing praises of von Neumann, but otherwise scantily mentioned Aiken, I can’t help but wonder how much Cuthbert Hurd, affected by such a mindset, really thought of the worth of Aiken’s role in any collaboration to start a new computer company.

But perhaps the most telling of Hurd’s views of von Neumann versus Aiken is Hurd’s description, in the 1981 interview, of von Neumann’s attitude toward money, that can be contrasted to Hurd’s dismissiveness toward Aiken’s focus on getting rich.

Hurd had played key roles in recruiting von Neumann for certain scientific consultancies in the atomic energy field and in the computer industry.

The first time in the late 1940s, Hurd recruited von Neumann to be a consultant at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory:

“HURD: … One of my first conversations with him, would he become a consultant with Oak Ridge and we were working on a design of a gaseous fusion plant. There was a lot of numerical analysis what we would now call computing, and I thought and a colleague of mine, Dr. George Garrett, who was my boss, he’s a mathematician, thought that John Von Neumann would be useful, and when we told Alston Householder about this, Alston thought it would be a good idea to get John to become a consultant. John was already a government consultant, so I talked to him about this. He examined his schedule and after some period of months I guess, decided he would have time and the interest to become a consultant also at Oak Ridge so he became a consultant. But the first time he visited was after I had left.

STERN: Now, when he was a consultant for Oak Ridge was it a financial arrangement that he had with Oak Ridge or did he do this as part of his consulting with the government?

HURD: That’s it.

STERN: It was part of his consulting with the government?

HURD: That’s it.

STERN: And the expectation would be that he’d come down once a month, twice a month, what was the frequency?

HURD: I think he just came once for a preliminary visit and then it would be decided how often he came. I think he went once or twice. …

STERN: Well Oak Ridge did eventually build a IAS type computer.

HURD: Yes.”

(Nancy Stern, January 20, 1981, Charles Babbage Institute, The Center for the History of Information Processing, University of Minnesota)

The Oak Ridge national lab had begun as the Clinton laboratories of the Clinton Engineer Works, the leading production site for nuclear bomb materials during the Manhattan Project.

(Bruce Cameron Reed, The History and Science of the Manhattan Project, 2014, Springer; and, “OAK RIDGE AND HANFORD COME THROUGH (Oak Ridge [Clinton] and Hanford, 1944-1945)”, The Manhattan Project, U.S. Department of Energy)

Nuclear materials production had not been a part of von Neumann’s Manhattan Project roles, which were in bomb design at the Los Alamos national lab, and in analyzing and selecting the bombing targets – including proposing the Japanese ancient capital of Kyoto as one.

(Kati Marton, The Great Escape: Nine Jews who Fled Hitler and Changed the World, 2006, Simon and Schuster; “The enduring legacy of John von Neumann”, by John Waelti, October 14, 2011, The Monroe Times; and, “IMPLOSION BECOMES A NECESSITY (Los Alamos: Laboratory, 1944)”, The Manhattan Project, U.S. Department of Energy)

After World War II, von Neumann had his focus on designing and advocating for the hydrogen bomb and for intercontinental ballistic missiles, as discussed in Part 5 (i).

But as Hurd explained, there was “a lot of numerical analysis”, i.e., computing, that von Neumann’s talents would be useful, von Neumann accepted Oak Ridge’s invitation, and Oak Ridge later built a von Neumann IAS-type computer – as a part of a von Neumann-led computer-building movement among the academia and the scientific institutions, reviewed in Part 5 (i).

As in the above quote, after recruiting von Neumann for consulting Hurd then left Oak Ridge before von Neumann began to attend the lab. As quoted earlier, Hurd moved to IBM in 1949 to found and direct its applied science department, and became a key driving force behind IBM’s first commercial computer, the IBM 701 “Defense Calculators” of the Korean War era.

The second time in the early 1950s, recruiting von Neumann to be a consultant for IBM, Hurd had an observation about von Neumann’s attitude toward money, that von Neumann was “interested in money” but it was not a primary reason for his doing consultant work, as Hurd later told:

“STERN: Bullom in the obituary you showed me, frequently talked about Von Neumann being interested in power, if you recall. Did you have any sense of that being the case?


STERN: What do you think his reasons for consulting for IBM were?

STERN: Or just speculate?

HURD: I think he liked the opportunity to be with a group of bright people. He clearly enjoyed his consulting projects. He liked it. And there were some problems to be solved in IBM which were challenges which he could solve. For example we discussed the possibility of writing a simulator of the Endicott plant. And we decided it was silly. I think he was interested in money. I don’t think that was a primary reason but when we came to discuss the terms why he was clearly interested in what the honorarium would be. I think I remember at first he thought it was terribly high. I don’t know what Von Neumann thought later. I think he was also interested in having his ideas put into a practical application. I don’t think our association was a deterministic thing, because he and I could have seen each other [at times other] than when he consulted.”

(Nancy Stern, January 20, 1981, Charles Babbage Institute, The Center for the History of Information Processing, University of Minnesota)

Both von Neumann and Aiken were interested in money. However, when von Neumann was told of the IBM honorarium figure for his consulting, he thought “it was terribly high”, whereas Aiken’s goal, reviewed earlier, was “to be rich”.

And when Hurd said he did not think his association with von Neumann was “a deterministic thing”, he probably suggested that the outcome of their interactions made them associate more.

In that same logic, was it, or was it not, “a deterministic thing” that Hurd’s interactions with Howard Aiken, which led to Hurd’s becoming cited as a “close associate” of Aiken’s, did not lead to their starting a business together even though he could do so and Aiken repeatedly expressed an interest?

I think the various anecdotes Hurd told that I have reviewed are surprisingly revealing of Hurd’s own inclination towards von Neumann, and partially explain why he twice succeeded in recruiting von Neumann to major scientific and technological consultancies, and yet twice failed to proceed with forming a company with Aiken to develop microcomputers and personal computers.

But there was something more specific linking Hurd’s recruiting of von Neumann for consultancies to his later discussions with Aiken about co-starting a company: in Bernard Cohen’s biography of Aiken, “Howard Aiken: Portrait of a Computer Pioneer”, quoted earlier, Hurd was quoted as saying that Aiken was very close to George Garrett, Lockheed Missiles Company’s Director of Computer Activities; and in his interview with Nancy Stern quoted earlier, Hurd said that he and his Oak Ridge national lab colleague and boss George Garrett, a mathematician, decided to recruit von Neumann as a consultant.

The George Garrett at Oak Ridge and the one at Lockheed Missiles were in fact the same person, like Cuthbert Hurd a mathematician in the atomic energy field and then in the computing field, though in Garrett’s case at Lockheed Missiles he continued to be in a military arena:

“George A. Garrett, 84, a 21-year resident of Menlo Park, died May 21 after an illness of several months. Born in Sardis, Miss., he graduated from the University of Mississippi and received a doctorate in mathematics from Rice University in Houston. He began his career as the party chief of a seismographic crew, until World War II, when he worked as a civilian for the Navy at MIT, developing and testing airplane sonar. After the war, he worked in the burgeoning nuclear field at Oak Ridge, Tenn., where he developed peaceful uses for atomic energy and helped to design the nuclear power plant installed at Paducah, Ky. After years at Oak Ridge, he became director of information processing for Lockheed Missiles and Space Company in Sunnyvale. In 1977 he transferred to the position of senior scientist for Bechtel Corp. in San Francisco. …”

(“Deaths”, May 31, 1995, Palo Alto Online)

Now I can see that the two engaged in very specific activities in a human-resources sense: Hurd and Garrett together associated with von Neumann while in the atomic energy field, and then with Aiken in the computing field; first with von Neumann, Garrett no doubt worked with him at Oak Ridge on both nuclear energy and the computer built there following von Neumann’s design, while Hurd moved to IBM, where he recruited von Neumann for a second time; later with Aiken, Garrett most likely had a role in recruiting him to Lockheed Missiles in the fledgling Silicon Valley, while Hurd went there to discuss with Aiken, and their discussions and negotiations would determine whether Hurd, by now an established computer industry executive, would take the second step in Aiken’s case, i.e., to start a new computer company together.

Apparently Hurd did not take that second step with Aiken that he had taken with von Neumann.

Possibly due to disillusionment, Howard Aiken, as told in his February 1973 interview quoted earlier from Bernard Cohen’s biography of him, ended his consultancy with Lockheed that year and concentrated on consulting for Monsanto for the same goal of making computers small – unfortunately, and somewhat prophetically for something he had said in that interview, Aiken died in his pursue of the goal.

Cuthbert Hurd was of course not the only industry executive in the computer field Aiken was close to, Aiken’s former Mark I underling Richard Bloch being another, who at some point became general manager of Raytheon’s computer division as quoted earlier. But as the example of Louis Fein illustrates, in the computing field Raytheon was no match for IBM.

Given that Hurd had been IBM’s director of the Applied Science Department and then director of the Electronic Data Processing Machines Division, he had the full breath of management experiences in computer development and computer applications.

At IBM, Hurd had a lot of interactions with Thomas Watson father and son:

“HURD: … I was hired with some notion about helping IBM get in the computer field. It was vague. When I came in I talked to Mr. Watson Sr. who was the chairman, Mr. Phillips who was the president and Tom Watson Jr. who was executive vice president, the director of sales, the director of product planning and John McPherson who I guess was vice president of engineering. I talked to everybody, we all talked about this subject.”

(Nancy Stern, January 20, 1981, Charles Babbage Institute, The Center for the History of Information Processing, University of Minnesota)

Loud arguments between Watson, Sr. and Watson, Jr. – the father against and the son for IBM computer development as first noted in Part 5 (i) – were often overheard by Hurd and other executives:

“STERN: … Now you’ve mentioned and I’ve read elsewhere, that in the late ’40s, Watson Jr. was really interested in getting into the computing field and Watson Sr. was not. Did you experience any kind of difference of opinion over this issue?

HURD: First let me say as I said earlier that I think, in 1949, Tom did not think specifically that IBM should get into the computer field, because the computer field was not defined. He used to talk about electronics. He talked about two things. He’d talk about electronics, and he’d talk about magnetic tape, and he understood instinctively that something had to be done with it, but we were all aware now–what do I mean by all? Half dozen people were aware– that there was a difference of opinion. Which would sometimes have a very strong expression between Mr. Watson Sr. and Mr. Watson Jr. The away we knew about this was, Mr. Watson Sr.’s on the seventeenth floor, Mr. Watson Jr.’s office was on the sixteenth floor. My office was on the fifteenth floor. We’d sometimes have meetings on the sixteenth floor, and Tom would disappear, and sometimes if somebody happened to go up or down, they never took the elevator. There was a stairway. You’d go outside Tom’s office, and in fifteen or twenty feet there was a door and it was a stairway, and it was not unusual to hear very loud voices.

STERN: [Laugh.]

HURD: And nobody ever said that you know explicitly that this is what this is going on. But everybody had the impression that these two gentlemen, who had very strong minds were disagreeing about something. …”

(Nancy Stern, January 20, 1981, Charles Babbage Institute, The Center for the History of Information Processing, University of Minnesota)

As quoted earlier, after he left IBM for the chairmanship of the Computer Usage Company, Hurd continued to be a consultant for IBM. It was only logical because that independent company, founded in 1955, produced software for use on IBM computers.

(Paul E. Ceruzzi, A History of Modern Computing, 2003, The MIT Press)

Hurd’s important responsibilities within IBM, and continuing close ties as a consultant to IBM afterwards, could in fact be a main reason why Aiken repeatedly discussed with him ideas of starting a new company to develop smaller computers. After all, from the very beginning it had been IBM that made Aiken’s Mark I project a reality.

As reviewed in details in Part 5 (i), major U.S. government funding support for science and technology was first jumpstarted by the considerations of military usage of the Second World War; the first general-purpose electronic computer ENIAC, with John von Neumann involved in a key development role, was made during that time for the U.S. Army’s Ballistic Research Laboratory at Aberdeen Proving Ground; subsequently, IBM’s first commercial computer, the Model 701 Defense Calculator, with Cuthbert Hurd in a key development role, was made in response to the Korean War.

It was no exception for Aiken’s own invention, the Mark machines, which he had independently proposed to IBM in 1937 several years before World War II. Ultimately, they were all made for use for the U.S. military’s needs:

“The four large-scale calculators which Aiken developed were:

Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator (the Harvard Mark I, known within IBM as the ASCC): conceived by Aiken in 1937, designed by IBM engineers and by Aiken, built by IBM as a gift to Harvard. The Mark I was used at Harvard by a US Navy crew that included Grace Murray Hopper and Richard Bloch. …

Mark II: Designed and built at Harvard for the Naval Proving Ground at Dahlgren, Va., for the development of ballistics tables. …

Mark III: Like Mark II, this machine was designed and built at Harvard for Dahlgren. …

Mark IV: Designed, built, and operated at Harvard for the US Air Force…”

(J. A. N. Lee, 1995, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.)

As for Aiken himself, the Harvard press release for Mark I’s dedication, discussed earlier, referred to Aiken as “Commander Howard H. Aiken” of the U.S. Navy Reserve; clearly the Navy, which made good use of the first two, non-electronic Mark machines, was a pride of Aiken and Harvard.

So for Howard Aiken, his consultancy at Lockheed Missiles and Space Company, where he worked with George Garrett and had discussions with Cuthbert Hurd about starting a new company, was probably in his understanding a necessary military-affiliation ingredient for launching the new venture of his desire; with proposed technical help of some Lockheed engineering personnel as mentioned earlier, it could make him the “father” of a new generation of computers – an accolade that had eluded him in his Harvard Mark projects.

The U.S. Navy certainly prized its Harvard Mark machines association. Grace Murray Hopper, as cited above Richard Bloch’s colleague in the Navy team using Mark I, and another of Aiken’s Harvard underlings, eventually rose in the Nay to become a rear admiral, on the merits of her computer work leadership:

Grace Brewster Murray was born on December 9, 1906 in New York City. In 1928 she graduated from Vassar College with a BA in mathematics and physics and joined the Vassar faculty. While an instructor at Vassar, she continued her studies in mathematics at Yale University, where she earned an MA in 1930 and a PhD in 1934. …

In 1930 Grace Murray married Vincent Foster Hopper. (He died in 1945 during World War II, and they had no children.) She remained at Vassar as an associate professor until 1943, when she joined the United States Naval Reserve to assist her country in its wartime challenges. … she was assigned to the Bureau of Ordnance Computation Project at Harvard University, where she worked at Harvard’s Cruft Laboratories on the Mark series of computers. In 1946 Admiral Hopper resigned her leave of absence from Vassar to become a research fellow in engineering and applied physics at Harvard’s Computation Laboratory. In 1949 she joined the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation as a Senior Mathematician. This group was purchased by Remington Rand in 1950, which in turn merged into the Sperry Corporation in 1955. …

Throughout her years in academia and industry, Admiral Hopper was a consultant and lecturer for the United States Naval Reserve. After a seven-month retirement, she returned to active duty in the Navy in 1967 as a leader in the Naval Data Automation Command. Upon her retirement from the Navy in 1986 with the rank of Rear Admiral, she immediately became a senior consultant to Digital Equipment Corporation, and remained there several years, working well into her eighties. She died in her sleep in Arlington, Virginia on January 1, 1992.”

(“Grace Murray Hopper”, 1994, Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, as posted by Yale University Department of Computer Science)

Like her former Harvard mentor Howard Aiken, Grace Murray Hopper also died during sleep. But at 86 on New Year 1992, she enjoyed 13 more years of life than Aiken.

In Part 3 I have mentioned a women’s computing conference in October 2014 that Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella was invited to attend and there Maria Klawe disagreed with something he said; the annual conference, Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, is named in honor of Grace Murray Hopper.

(“About”, Anita Borg Institute Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing)

Subtly different, Cuthbert Hurd, whom Aiken counted on for co-launching a computer industry venture, had a U.S. Coast Guard Academy working background from World War II:

“HURD: I started mathematics with a Ph.D. [from] the University of Illinois, 1936. Dissertation concerned asymptotic solutions of differential equations. Taught at Michigan State College, now Michigan State University, until the war. And organized and staffed department for reserve officers of The Coast Guard Academy, and was educational officer for the academy, helped the admiral revise the curriculum, and was briefly dean of Allegheny College, joined the Oak Ridge Project in nuclear energy. In 1947 was a Technical Research Head. Did work which involved dealing with lots of data. Felt we needed something more, became acquainted with IBM. Called on Mr. Watson Sr. told him I wanted to work for IBM. Joined IBM, organized the Applied Science department. Got IBM’s first computer announced in about a year and a half.”

(Nancy Stern, January 20, 1981, Charles Babbage Institute, The Center for the History of Information Processing, University of Minnesota)

As described, at the Coast Guard Academy Hurd was an organizer of reserve officers, and an educational officer, helping the admiral revise the curriculum.

Hmm, once helping always helping the admiral revise ‘The Coast Guard Academy curriculum’, so to speak, now I begin to wonder: might it not be Hurd’s closer empathy for von Neumann than for Aiken, but a more subtle form of institutional bias that prevented Hurd from helping Aiken’s ambition of developing and commercializing a new generation of computers?

More specifically, prior to his Oak Ridge career Hurd’s interests had all been in education: college teaching and research, personnel education and administration during World War II at the Coast Guard Academy, and academic administration as a college dean; then at Oak Ridge national lab, Hurd began managing technical research.

Hurd’s starting role at IBM, founding director of the applied science department, was thus likely offered to him because of his prior long career in administering education and scientific research.

After IBM, the independent computer software company Hurd became the board chair of, the Computer Usage Company, emphasized “usage” of computers, in fact IBM computers as mentioned earlier.

Even later, Hurd became board chairman of a company specializing in “educational software”:

“… He was later appointed chairman of the Picodyne Corporation, which specialized in educational software, and in 1984 he co-founded Quintus Computer Systems, which was devoted to the commercialization of artificial intelligence. At the time of his death, he was the chief scientist of Northpoint Software Ventures Inc., a developer of risk management software.”

(Laurence Zuckerman, June 2, 1996, The New York Times)

Hence, my metaphor of Cuthbert Hurd always helping the admiral revise the curriculum, includes about some detected disdain, tinted by Hurd’s educational institutional perspective albeit perhaps not as decidedly biased as Al Bowker’s lifelong academic perspective, toward the business passion and acumen of Howard Aiken, a retired Harvard professor – as a result Hurd talked about but never took a real step toward forming a computer company with Aiken.

John von Neumann, stricken with cancer in his early 50s, wanted to move to California to engage in “research on the computer and its possible future uses, with considerable commercial sponsorship”; but did not have life left to do so as detailed in my review in Part 5 (i).

Howard Aiken, von Neumann’s academic computer-pioneer rival, lived two decades longer, retired from the academia, started a businessman career, and became a computer consultant in California’s growing Silicon Valley for over a decade, at Lockheed Missiles and Space company; but despite his repeatedly expressed wishes, with technological ideas proposed, to start a company to develop smaller computers, the promise he was given in return was never fulfilled.

Finally Aiken gave up on Lockheed and Silicon Valley, pinning his hope on Monsanto’s computer technology ambition; but sadly, he immediately met his end.

What consoled Howard Aiken, undoubtedly, was that within a short 3 years of his early retirement from Harvard, Alfred Brooks, one of his “most devoted disciples” as referred to earlier, made significant achievements as the development team leader of a revolutionarily important and successful IBM commercial computer, and became the founding chairman of the second academic computer science department in the U.S.

Decades after Aiken’s death, in 1999 Brooks received computer science’s highest honor, the A. M. Turing Award, an honor in my opinion Howard Aiken very much deserved and should have been given – had not been for his career conversion to a businessman.

Since founding the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s computer science department, Brooks’s research has specialised in computer graphics:

“After the successful delivery of the System/360 and its operating system, Brooks was invited to the University of North Carolina, where he founded the University’s computer science department in 1964. He chaired the department from 1964 to 1984, and served as the Kenan Professor of Computer Science. His principal research area, real-time three-dimensional graphics, provides virtual environments that let biochemists reason about the structure of complex molecules, and let architects walk through buildings under design. Brooks has also pioneered the use of a haptic force feedback display to supplement visual graphics.”

(“FREDERICK (“FRED”) BROOKS”, A. M. Turing Award, Association for Computing Machinery)

As discussed in Part 3, Chapel Hill’s computer science department was where Jack Snoeyink moved to in 2000, from the University of British Columbia, who had a Stanford computer science Ph.D. with specialisation in computer graphics and whose 1990 hiring by the UBC computer science department had ended my hope for a UBC tenure-track faculty position.

I note that Snoeyink became Brooks’s colleague the year after Brooks’s winning of the Turing Award.

As also reviewed in Part 3, graduating from Stanford Snoeyink was recruited by UBC computer graphics professor Alain Fournier, who had taught courses at Stanford and been acquainted with Snoeyink’s Ph.D. adviser Leonidas Guibas; later to Chapel Hill Snoeyink became a colleague of Henry Fuchs, a senior professor in computer graphics who had been on the faculty of the University of Texas at Dallas in the mid-late 1970s when Fournier was a Ph.D. student there, interested in specializing under Fuchs before Fuchs’s departure for Chapel Hill.

Clearly, UNC Chapel Hill’s computer science leader Alfred Brooks recognized talents like Henry Fuchs and Jack Snoeyink.

But mindful of Brooks being a former devoted disciple of Howard Aiken, and mindful of a computer-pioneer rivalry between Aiken and John von Neumann, I note that back in the Manhattan Project era von Neumann had had an important collaborator also by the name of Fuchs, Klaus Fuchs, in pioneering design of the hydrogen bomb, who turned out to be a spy handing U.S. nuclear weapons secrets to the Soviet Union:

“Fuchs, the Quaker son of a Lutheran pastor, was born in Russelsheim, Germany in 1911. He attended both Leipzig and Kiel Universities but, as a Communist, was persecuted by the Nazis. He fled through Switzerland and France to Britain, where he attended in succession Bristol and then Edinburgh Universities. In 1940 he was taken into custody as a German ‘enemy alien’ and shipped off to an internment camp in Quebec, Canada.

In 1941, with the help of his old professor at Edinburgh, Max Born (himself a Jewish refugee from Germany) he was back in Britain — and in 1942 he obtained a job with the ‘Tube Alloys’ project (code name for the British atomic research programme).

He was naturalised British in 1942 and, ironically, he signed the Official Secrets Act at about the same time as he started meeting ‘the girl from Banbury’, really Ruth Werner, a German communist working for the Soviets. …

In late 1943, he was transferred to New York to work on the US atomic bomb programmme at Columbia University; then, in the summer of the following year, he started work at the Theoretical Physics Division on the hydrogen bomb at Los Alamos in New Mexico … Together with John von Neumann he filed a patent, far ahead of its time, for initiating fusion and implosion in an H-bomb.

In 1947, he became the first head of the Theoretical Physics Division at the Harwell Atomic Energy Research Establishment, which had been set up at the instigation of Frederick Lindemann, Lord Cherwell (1886-1957), Churchill’s scientific adviser …

While at Harwell, Fuchs met Soviet agent Alexander Feklisov (1914-2007) at least twice… On the first occasion, he gave top-secret information about the American super H-bomb and how scientists Fermi and Teller had proved its workability. On the second, he gave away secrets which… “played an exceptional role in the subsequent course of the Soviet thermonuclear programme”.

(“Harwell head gave away H-bomb secrets”, by Chris Koenig, March 9, 2011, Oxford Times)

So I wonder if Professor Alfred Brooks was intrigued not only by Professor Henry Fuchs’s talents but also by the Fuchs name when he hired the latter, who is today the Federico Gil Distinguished Professor of Computer Science at UNC Chapel Hill.

(“Henry Fuchs: Federico Gil Distinguished Professor”, Department of Computer Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

In any case, per his Turing Award biography, in his IBM days Brooks had participated in developing a computer for the NSA, and helping the U.S. government assess the computing capability of the Soviet Union, and so he had his nerves.

Alain Fournier did not get to become Henry Fuchs’s Ph.D. student in Dallas, but decades later Jack Snoeyink he mentored became Fuchs’s faculty colleague at Chapel Hill, and so an intention was realized by one of a younger generation.

Despite Jack’s role in UBC academic politics to my detriment, mentioned in a quote in Part 1, it is still fitting that a Ph.D. from the most influential academic computer science department in the U.S. founded by the late George Forsythe, “almost … the Martin Luther of the Computer Reformation”, became a professor in the U.S.’s second academic computer science department founded ahead of Stanford’s, and in the same computer graphics field as that department’s founder Alfred Brooks.

Snoeyink went to Chapel Hill in the same year 2000 when Fournier died of cancer, as in Part 3. Fournier was 56 – only a year older than George Forsythe at his death decades earlier.

(“Alain Fournier, a life in pictures”, Pierre Poulin, Département d’informatique et de recherche opérationnelle, Université de Montréal)

Then in the same year 2015 when Brooks retired after 51 years at UNC, Snoeyink became a program director in the U.S. National Science Foundation as noted in Part 3 – I can only hope that this is an indication of progress.

(Part 5 continues in (iii))

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