[SIGCIS-Members] The latest inventor of the computer

lidemol elizabeth.demol at ugent.be
Fri Mar 24 02:59:42 PDT 2017


For those of you interested in the paper mentioned by Edgar, a draft 
version is available from:

https://hal-univ-paris8.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-01345592/document

(though some of our conclusions are in need of revision or, at least, 
nuancing)

best wishes,
Liesbeth

On 2017-03-24 07:24, Edgar Daylight wrote:
> 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/turingtales
> In 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
> <mailto: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 <mailto:dcb at dcbrock.net>]
>     *Sent:* Thursday, March 23, 2017 4:21 PM
>     *To:* Thomas Haigh <thomas.haigh at gmail.com
>     <mailto:thomas.haigh at gmail.com>>
>     *Cc:* David Brock <dcb at dcbrock.net <mailto:dcb at dcbrock.net>>; Len
>     Shustek <len at shustek.com <mailto:len at shustek.com>>;
>     members at lists.sigcis.org <mailto: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 <mailto: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
>         <http://www.tomandmaria.com/Tom/Writing/CACMActuallyTuringDidNotInventTheComputer.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
>         <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 <mailto: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/
>         <https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2017/03/aristotle-computer/518697/>____
>         The article is rather better than its title.____
>          ____
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