[SIGCIS-Members] Members Digest, Vol 51, Issue 13

Ceruzzi, Paul CeruzziP at si.edu
Sat Jun 1 06:00:50 PDT 2019


Alex:


It depends on how fine-grained the Wall St. Journal wants to be. In 1954 the NACA acquired an ERA 1103 computer and modified its instructions to include an "interrupt" facility -- the first ever and a feature that is standard on all computers since (I'll let you decide whether NASA can take credit for an NACA innovation!)  For project Mercury, NASA, as a customer, modified an IBM mainframe to operate in real-rime--another major innovation. That included the IBM 7090 featured in the movie "Hidden Figures." IBM's policy was to lease, not sell, its machines, and customers were not allowed to modify them in any way. But NASA had the clout, and real-time computer usage has since... well, you get the picture. Later on, at the MSFC in Houston, NASA created a program that allowed both real-time and batch processing to go on at the same time: "HASP" (I think it meant "Houston Automatic Spooling Priority" -- "SPOOL was another IBM acronym). This was a big deal in the mainframe era; not sure if it still is, however.


I haven't checked, but I am sure that Wikipedia has a lengthy discussion of HASP & SPOOL.


In general I would say that in many instances NASA has been behind the curve, but that is a topic for another day.


So the bottom line is, yes, but the Wall St. Journal may not be all that interested in the finer details of computer architecture.


Paul Ceruzzi


By the Way, James Tomayko's book on NASA & Spaceflight computers is available in many libraries, including the Smithsonian's. If librarians have trouble finding it, tell them to look for the "Encyclopedia of Computer Science & Technology," volume 18, supplement 3 (Marcel Dekker, 1987).

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Today's Topics:

   1.  NASA contributions to computer development (Alex Roland)
   2. Re:  NASA contributions to computer development (Armando Fox)
   3. Re:  NASA contributions to computer development (David C. Brock)


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Message: 1
Date: Fri, 31 May 2019 17:48:12 +0000
From: Alex Roland <alex.roland at duke.edu>
To: "members at SIGCIS.org" <members at SIGCIS.org>
Subject: [SIGCIS-Members] NASA contributions to computer development
Message-ID: <AB00619D-B221-496A-B656-7EE90AB96AFA at duke.edu>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"

Friends:

          I have been a passive member of SIGCIS for many years now, even though I am no longer an active researcher in the field.  Still, I follow your correspondence with great interest.  I am writing now because I have received an inquiry from a reporter for the Wall Street Journal who is interested in NASA?s historical contributions to computer development.  I know from research on my book Strategic Computing: DARPA and  the Quest for Machine Intelligence, 1983-1993 (2002) that NASA was involved in the Federal High Performance Computing Program in the late 1980s and early 1990s.  I do not, however, know of other significant contributions by NASA to computer development.  If anyone knows of such contributions, I would be happy to know about them.

Thanks,  Alex Roland

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Message: 2
Date: Fri, 31 May 2019 12:21:34 -0700
From: Armando Fox <fox at berkeley.edu>
To: Alex Roland <alex.roland at duke.edu>
Cc: "members at SIGCIS.org" <members at SIGCIS.org>
Subject: Re: [SIGCIS-Members] NASA contributions to computer
        development
Message-ID: <72F036AD-B9C2-4F50-8C10-26F7CFAC5A26 at berkeley.edu>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"

tl;dr: try this ebook <https://nam02.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fdrive.google.com%2Fopen%3Fid%3D1Pm0tPzG5Wr2nQ9G_SYswsef9VSSrSpgx&data=02%7C01%7Cceruzzip%40si.edu%7C0786eb8934ee4033e06b08d6e6077e6a%7C989b5e2a14e44efe93b78cdd5fc5d11c%7C1%7C0%7C636949317202121063&sdata=xw%2Bt3qpBRNOolnrdFsIi7uP3BIArLFumoDOfmLBAXu4%3D&reserved=0> (it's in .mobi format).

long version: i have long had a nonprofessional interest in this same topic. several years ago, i found a public domain book called "Computers in Spaceflight: The NASA Experience", which was made available online as a series of hundreds of linked web pages.  i contacted the webmaster and ultimately arranged to have them send me the MS Word "source" documents of the book, which i used as the basis of a conversion to Kindle format.  (this was 2009; i was an early Kindle adopter.)

annoyingly, when i tried to "publish" the result on the Kindle Store, Amazon required setting a minimum price of $1 (i had wanted to make it free).  note that since it's public domain, it is legal for me to charge for it, though i had no wish to do so.

today i logged into amazon KDP to see if they had removed the restriction and if i could change it to free.... but instead they forced me to RAISE the price!!

so, you can buy it for $2.99 on amazon, or download it for free here <https://nam02.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fdrive.google.com%2Fopen%3Fid%3D1Pm0tPzG5Wr2nQ9G_SYswsef9VSSrSpgx&data=02%7C01%7Cceruzzip%40si.edu%7C0786eb8934ee4033e06b08d6e6077e6a%7C989b5e2a14e44efe93b78cdd5fc5d11c%7C1%7C0%7C636949317202121063&sdata=xw%2Bt3qpBRNOolnrdFsIi7uP3BIArLFumoDOfmLBAXu4%3D&reserved=0>.  the conversion isn't perfect - i was a newbie to Kindle conversion, and the target device was the original Kindle which had much more limited display capabilities than current devices - but the conversion is good enough.  and it's not DRM-protected so you should be able to convert it to epub or whatever else you want.

if i can find the original Word files they sent me i'll post a link to those on this list as well.  the historian i communicated with assured me that the manuscript was in the public domain, having been produced by a civilian agency at taxpayer expense.

hope this helps someone!

Armando Fox (pronouns: he, him)
Professor, Computer Science Division
Faculty Advisor, Digital Learning Strategy & MOOCLab
UC Berkeley Campus Equity Advisor
581 Soda Hall MC#1776, Berkeley, CA 94720-1776
+1.510.642.6820 / https://nam02.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=http:%2F%2Fwww.cs.berkeley.edu%2F~fox&data=02%7C01%7Cceruzzip%40si.edu%7C0786eb8934ee4033e06b08d6e6077e6a%7C989b5e2a14e44efe93b78cdd5fc5d11c%7C1%7C0%7C636949317202121063&sdata=PfSqSciUjBwEblXdEQ9aY59tQsLghxDty4xR5ZZaE4s%3D&reserved=0 <https://nam02.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=http:%2F%2Fwww.cs.berkeley.edu%2F~fox&data=02%7C01%7Cceruzzip%40si.edu%7C0786eb8934ee4033e06b08d6e6077e6a%7C989b5e2a14e44efe93b78cdd5fc5d11c%7C1%7C0%7C636949317202121063&sdata=PfSqSciUjBwEblXdEQ9aY59tQsLghxDty4xR5ZZaE4s%3D&reserved=0>

Learn to build software free at saas-class.org

> On May 31, 2019, at 10:48, Alex Roland <alex.roland at duke.edu> wrote:
>
> Friends:
>
>           I have been a passive member of SIGCIS for many years now, even though I am no longer an active researcher in the field.  Still, I follow your correspondence with great interest.  I am writing now because I have received an inquiry from a reporter for the Wall Street Journal who is interested in NASA?s historical contributions to computer development.  I know from research on my book Strategic Computing: DARPA and  the Quest for Machine Intelligence, 1983-1993 (2002) that NASA was involved in the Federal High Performance Computing Program in the late 1980s and early 1990s.  I do not, however, know of other significant contributions by NASA to computer development.  If anyone knows of such contributions, I would be happy to know about them.
>
> Thanks,  Alex Roland
>
> _______________________________________________
> 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 https://nam02.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=http%3A%2F%2Flists.sigcis.org%2Fpipermail%2Fmembers-sigcis.org%2F&data=02%7C01%7Cceruzzip%40si.edu%7C0786eb8934ee4033e06b08d6e6077e6a%7C989b5e2a14e44efe93b78cdd5fc5d11c%7C1%7C0%7C636949317202121063&sdata=9sIWNiWW4sHCUPgjNZ3yA7tzJ0%2Ft8fXlEiyLwsfHOpQ%3D&reserved=0 and you can change your subscription options at https://nam02.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=http%3A%2F%2Flists.sigcis.org%2Flistinfo.cgi%2Fmembers-sigcis.org&data=02%7C01%7Cceruzzip%40si.edu%7C0786eb8934ee4033e06b08d6e6077e6a%7C989b5e2a14e44efe93b78cdd5fc5d11c%7C1%7C0%7C636949317202121063&sdata=ybUhG8qKM1Z%2B9Z77kmxOJsqZ1sBGy6Go3mCrAl35keM%3D&reserved=0

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Message: 3
Date: Fri, 31 May 2019 15:27:12 -0400
From: "David C. Brock" <dcb at dcbrock.net>
To: Alex Roland <alex.roland at duke.edu>
Cc: "members at SIGCIS.org" <members at SIGCIS.org>
Subject: Re: [SIGCIS-Members] NASA contributions to computer
        development
Message-ID: <42058FC7-3314-463E-8687-DBAC09D3BD86 at dcbrock.net>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"

NASA was a sponsor of Englebart?s lab at SRI. NASA also funded work in computer graphics and animation. NASA?s JPL is an important site in the history of computer animation.

Just a couple of quick thoughts...
+++++++++++++++
David C. Brock
dcb at dcbrock.net
40 Russell Street, Greenfield, MA 01301
Mobile: 413-522-3578
Skype: dcbrock
Twitter: @dcbrock

> On May 31, 2019, at 1:48 PM, Alex Roland <alex.roland at duke.edu> wrote:
>
> Friends:
>
>           I have been a passive member of SIGCIS for many years now, even though I am no longer an active researcher in the field.  Still, I follow your correspondence with great interest.  I am writing now because I have received an inquiry from a reporter for the Wall Street Journal who is interested in NASA?s historical contributions to computer development.  I know from research on my book Strategic Computing: DARPA and  the Quest for Machine Intelligence, 1983-1993 (2002) that NASA was involved in the Federal High Performance Computing Program in the late 1980s and early 1990s.  I do not, however, know of other significant contributions by NASA to computer development.  If anyone knows of such contributions, I would be happy to know about them.
>
> Thanks,  Alex Roland
>
> _______________________________________________
> 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 https://nam02.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=http%3A%2F%2Flists.sigcis.org%2Fpipermail%2Fmembers-sigcis.org%2F&data=02%7C01%7Cceruzzip%40si.edu%7C0786eb8934ee4033e06b08d6e6077e6a%7C989b5e2a14e44efe93b78cdd5fc5d11c%7C1%7C0%7C636949317202121063&sdata=9sIWNiWW4sHCUPgjNZ3yA7tzJ0%2Ft8fXlEiyLwsfHOpQ%3D&reserved=0 and you can change your subscription options at https://nam02.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=http%3A%2F%2Flists.sigcis.org%2Flistinfo.cgi%2Fmembers-sigcis.org&data=02%7C01%7Cceruzzip%40si.edu%7C0786eb8934ee4033e06b08d6e6077e6a%7C989b5e2a14e44efe93b78cdd5fc5d11c%7C1%7C0%7C636949317202121063&sdata=ybUhG8qKM1Z%2B9Z77kmxOJsqZ1sBGy6Go3mCrAl35keM%3D&reserved=0

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End of Members Digest, Vol 51, Issue 13
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