[SIGCIS-Members] The latest inventor of the computer

Edgar Daylight egdaylight at yahoo.com
Thu Mar 23 23:24:07 PDT 2017


Turing did not invent the computer. But one could have an easier time trying to defend the claim that Turing's 1936 work was a prerequisite for Willem van der Poel to build the first Dutch "stored program" computers .....   as explained in my latest book "Turing Tales"; see: www.dijkstrascry.com/turingtalesIn retrospect, Turing himself might very well have thought like van der Poel (with Turing universality being a central concept in his engineering work); they certainly programmed real computers in a very similar manner. A similar remark can be made about Martin Davis in the 1950s, who did not build computers but did program them.

Another source is our work in progress, presented at the first Siegen workshop in 2016:L. De Mol, M. Bullynck, E.G. Daylight. A Short History of Small Machines. (work in progress)

best wishes,Edgar

  

    On Thursday, March 23, 2017 10:39 PM, Seamus Sweeney <seamussweeney1 at gmail.com> wrote:
 

 As often happens, dear old Ireland can claim an even earlier invention:  - https://csiweb.ucd.ie/content/symbol-vec-newgrange
Over 5000 years ago tomb builders in the Boyne Valley constructed, possibly, the first optical computer in the world using the main tomb at Newgrange.  Every winter solstice the light at dawn on the horizon shines through a unique box-like structure over the main entrance, down the passage to the very back of the tomb; indicating very precisely the time of the the year. While the outer stones of the Newgrange tumulus are artistically decorated with spirals and losenges, the meaning of which is unknown, the reverse side of these kerb stones have less well-executed symbols (dot patterns, diamonds, spirals, losenges and so on) which are assumed to have some symbolic meaning. The aim of this project is to use the word2vec system to analyse the co-occurrence structure of these symbols with a view to saying something about the similarities between different stones and/or sites. Several current analyses have been carried out, based on percentages of coverage of certain symbols on given stones, but an extensive and complete analysis has yet to be carried out. Using an analogy to documents, each tomb can be treated as a document, each stone as a sentence and each symbol as a work.   The aim of the system would be to detemine statistically what symbols tend to co-occur with other symbols at different locations.

On 23 March 2017 at 21:34, Thomas Haigh <thomas.haigh at gmail.com> wrote:

That’s precisely why my CACM article had the tag line “Separating the origins of computer science and technology.” Computer science comes along later, and assembles its foundations long after actual electronic computers already exist. The mistake that computer scientists and philosophers make is in assuming that the development of actual computers must have been driven by the availability of abstract models. That reflects their general disdain for engineering and actual history. In reality, people built computers first and worried about how to legitimate a discipline around their study later. An article called “How Aristotle Created Computer Science” would be making an enormously different claim from one titled “How Aristotle Created the Computer.” However, any such article would need to be about the 1950s and 60s, that being when the various intellectual and institutional things that were integrated to form the foundations of computer science were actually assembled. Tom From: David C. Brock [mailto:dcb at dcbrock.net] 
Sent: Thursday, March 23, 2017 4:21 PM
To: Thomas Haigh <thomas.haigh at gmail.com>
Cc: David Brock <dcb at dcbrock.net>; Len Shustek <len at shustek.com>; members at lists.sigcis.org
Subject: Re: [SIGCIS-Members] The latest inventor of the computer But couldn’t one argue that computer science owes a huge debt to philosophy, particularly foundations of mathematics and formal logic? My impression is that debt is under-paid and not that widely appreciated. 
On Mar 23, 2017, at 4:48 PM, Thomas Haigh <thomas.haigh at gmail.com> wrote: Better than the title, perhaps, but everything is relative. To be fair, the article is doubling down on a version of computer history that is quite popular, particularly among non-historians. Given the reach of Davis’ book, not to mention Hofstadter, I’m not sure that all this is as unusual approach as the opening implies. My views on all this are on record in the CACM article “Actually, Turing Did Not Invent The Computer.” http://www. tomandmaria.com/Tom/Writing/ CACMActuallyTuringDidNotInvent TheComputer.pdf If you believe Copeland, Davis, and others who think that Turing invented the so-called "stored program" computer in 1936, then why not cut out the middle man? Going up the chain and handing the whole thing to Aristotle is only slightly more of a stretch. Dixon clearly does believe the Davis/Copeland version: In contrast to Shannon’s paper, Turing’s paper is highly technical. Its primary historical significance lies not in its answer to the decision problem,  but in the template for computer design it provided along the way…. Turing showed how a program could be stored inside a computer alongside the data upon which it operates. In today’s vocabulary, we’d say that he invented the “stored-program” architecture that underlies most modern computers. [skipping quote from Davis] This was the first rigorous demonstration that any computing logic that could be encoded in hardware could also be encoded in software. The architecture Turing described was later dubbed the “Von Neumann architecture” — but modern historians generally agree it came from Turing, as, apparently, did Von Neumann himself. Asserting that "modern historians generally agree" that the von Neumann architecture came from Turing’s paper seems like a rather dubious claim to me. Particularly if you read Turing’s paper and look for a von Neumann architecture in it. At the Early Digital workshop in January I raised the question explicitly with a fairly good sampling of “modern historians” and nobody present supported the idea.   Another exaggeration: “Turing joined a secret unit at Bletchley Park, northwest of London, where he helped design computers that were instrumental in breaking German codes.” Bombes weren’t computers, and Turing didn’t help to design Colossus (which personally I don’t think was a computer either, but that’s more controversial). People in the comments section seem to like it, but in an unusually highbrow example of internet discourse are calling out for more attention to the anitkythera device, Chrysippus, Pierce, Polish bombe creators, Thomas Aquinas, etc. Nobody seems to be objecting to the Turing claim, though someone does take the opportunity to insult Ada Lovelace. Best wishes, Tom -----Original Message-----
From: Members [mailto:members-bounces at lists. sigcis.org] On Behalf Of Len Shustek
Sent: Thursday, March 23, 2017 3:11 PM
To: members at lists.sigcis.org
Subject: [SIGCIS-Members] The latest inventor of the computer We're fully engaged in the invention of email, but we haven't had any new inventors of the computer in a while. The Atlantic is helping with that: "How Aristotle Created the Computer".https://www.theatlantic.com/ technology/archive/2017/03/ aristotle-computer/518697/The article is rather better than its title. ______________________________ _________________This email is relayed from members at sigcis.org, the email discussion list of SHOT SIGCIS. Opinions expressed here are those of the member posting and are not reviewed, edited, or endorsed by SIGCIS. The list archives are at http://lists.sigcis.org/ pipermail/members-sigcis.org/  and you can change your subscription options at http://lists.sigcis.org/ listinfo.cgi/members-sigcis. org______________________________ _________________
This email is relayed from members at sigcis.org, the email discussion list of SHOT SIGCIS. Opinions expressed here are those of the member posting and are not reviewed, edited, or endorsed by SIGCIS. The list archives are at http://lists.sigcis.org/ pipermail/members-sigcis.org/  and you can change your subscription options at http://lists.sigcis.org/ listinfo.cgi/members-sigcis. org
 
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