[SIGCIS-Members] My column on Turing and the Invention of the Computer

Paul Fishwick pxf130430 at utdallas.edu
Sat Jan 18 08:50:57 PST 2014

Paul, Tom, and Colleagues

[apologies to Marie and Tom for flooding their inboxes due to a problem I
was having in my email subscription]

 In my lab, we explore methods of computation describable by 
synthetic (e.g. game-based sandbox environments such as Portal, Minecraft,
etc) and tangible (e.g., physical models of computing) methods. With this
strategy, the history of analog computing as well as the history of technology
more generally, contain valuable cues toward the principles of computer science
(the properties of memory, sequence, conditional branching and so forth). Are
there others on this list with an analog computing interest, or is there another list, 
where analog methods are discussed, perhaps for their pedagogical advantage?
In a possible departure from the norm, but consistent with an analog computing
emphasis, I would claim that “the first human-made computers”  were tally sticks. 
With the birth of number, came the method of computing. Within this 
particular technology, we find the basics: randomly addressable memory, ability  
to read  and write, control, and arithmetic in its raw form---counting).
 On a separate personal topic, but related tangentially to this thread, in grad school at
Penn, I was informed that my desk was in the vicinity of the old ENIAC work area. Indeed,
my desk was definitely World War II vintage—warped, chipped and tiny. My
interests were (and are) in graphics and computer simulation and for some reason I was
blissfully unaware of the history of the ENIAC. I have been attempting to
resurrect this interest starting with one simulator that I found on line. If others exist,
please let me know where I might find them.

Paul Fishwick, PhD
Distinguished Chair of Arts & Technology 
   and Professor of Computer Science
Director, Creative Automata Laboratory
The University of Texas at Dallas
Arts & Technology
800 West Campbell Road, AT10
Richardson, TX 75080-3021
Home: utdallas.edu/atec/fishwick
Blog: creative-automata.com

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