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'[OT] RE: Mark1 programming challenge'
1998\02\10@174053 by Mauro, Chuck

With much respect to the folks at Manchester University, I'm afraid I
must object at the mention of the Manchester Mark 1 or even the
Small-Scale Experimental Machine, known as SSEM (or the "Baby") as the
first computer to be able to store and run a random program.  It is
documented that the Manchester Mark 1 ran for the first time on the 21st
of June, 1948

In fact, the first programmable electronic computer was the ENIAC
developed at the Moore's (engineering) school of the University of
Pennsylvania.  This machine was the brainchild of John Mauchly and
Prespert (Pres) Eckert.  The machine ran in 1946, and had been under
development since 1942.

I've listened to their lecture, and personally met and talked with 2
surviving members of the original 6 woman team that programmed the
original ENIAC from the middle 1940's (their names are Betty and Frances
- one ultimately married Press Eckert, the other John Mauchly).  (The
lecture was sponsored by Microsoft, where I happened to work at the
time.)  True - the ENIAC was initially funded by the US Army to provide
them with a sorely needed automated ballistic trajectory table computer:
up until that time ballistic trajectory tables had been calculated by
hand (using adding machines), and took an entire room full (30-40) of
women weeks to compute one set of tables.  While ENIAC was primarily a
patch-bay wired computing engine, there was a control unit that
determined the number of iterations the decade computational units
needed to calculate before terminating a calculation.  This Master
Programmer was a PROGRAMMABLE unit, actually containing storage for it's
"instructions".  In effect, it executed a FOR statement, or program
looping control.  The women programmers, John and Press all determined
that by a simple wiring change, they could program the Master Programmer
to test for a variable condition to be met  - hence the first branching,
or IF-THEN or Do-WHILE program control constructs.

As a point of additional interest, Frances and Betty also told me of the
many trips that John Von Neuman (consulting to the US Army at the time)
made to check on the progress of the ENIAC project at the Moore's school
at Penn.  The 5 of them struck up a great friendship.  The group
discussed various improvements that could be made to the ENIAC (e.g. the
EDVAC that came later).  Von Neuman noticed that data and program in the
ENIAC were in separate storage from each other (the now famous Von
Neuman architecture!).  Betty and Frances both contend that Von Neuman
appropriated the concept for his own design notes and claimed it was his
original idea!  (Ain't history interesting?)

Check out these web sights for more info:

Again, it is my belief that as rudimentary as it was, the ENIAC
contained enough logic and control to actually run various different,
albeit simple programs.  It was not just a ballistic trajectory
calculator.  Many professors and mathematicians queued up to have their
various problems solved by the ENIAC.


Chuck Mauro

> {Original Message removed}

1998\02\10@194854 by Andrew Warren

Mauro, Chuck <spam_OUTPICLISTTakeThisOuTspamMITVMA.MIT.EDU> wrote:

> Von Neuman noticed that data and program in the ENIAC were in
> separate storage from each other (the now famous Von Neuman
> architecture!).  Betty and Frances both contend that Von Neuman
> appropriated the concept for his own design notes and claimed it
> was his original idea!  (Ain't history interesting?)


   I'm sure Betty and Frances are delightful little old ladies,

   Separate data and program spaces is the now-famous HARVARD

   The "now famous Von Neumann architecture" (note the correct
   spelling) is the OTHER one... The one with data and program in
   the SAME memory space.


=== Andrew Warren -
=== Fast Forward Engineering - Vista, California

1998\02\11@123823 by Mauro, Chuck

yeah yeah...  I knew I could count on somebody to notice the mistake!
Thanks for pointing it out Andrew.

Sorry about that... What I meant to say, and I forgot to mention, was
Von Neumann took credit for PROPOSED IMPROVEMENTS to future ENIAC-like
machines that Mauchley and Eckert were going to build.  It is quite
obvious that the original ENIAC was a precursor to the Harvard
architecture...  It also interesting to note that it was also an early
parallel processing machine (each math decade unit was in essence a
wholly independent number cruncher, along with the separate Master

I went home last night realizing that I had forgotten to mention the
improved generation of ENIAC, and not the original machine.  My
apologies.  Of course, we all know the basic difference between the
architectures.  Sorry for the confusion... :)

BTW: Better be careful casting disparaging comments about those "Little
Old Ladies"!  They were (are) all degreed professional mathematicians,
and then some.  Some are still vital members of the computer industry
(they were all in their early twenties when the ENIAC was built), and
Betty was just remarried last year.  Not so old after all, eh?  I hope
I'm still writing code and engineering circuits - and getting paid for
it - when I'm in my early to mid seventies!

Thanks again, Andrew, I'll recheck my facts twice before sending out
future responses in the hopes of avoiding more bonehead statements.

Cheers! ;)


> {Original Message removed}

1998\02\11@184324 by myke predko

I think I have a few things to comment on and I've just put an addition to
my web page.

>Russell McMahon wrote:
>I suspect your enthusiasm for the exploits of the USA in WW2
>may be a little coloured by your nationality Myke :-). (Of
>course, as Carl Sagan was occasionally wont to say, I could
>be wrong). {I assume that you are a genuine US of A ite}.

Bad assumption (as was commented on before).  I have the same queen as you
New Zealander's do.

>I have read a number of articles on the Bletchley Park
>efforts including a recent one which appeared in several
>magazines by someone who claimed to have been closely
>involved in some capacity with the original code breaking
>effort. If I find the article I'll send you the reference.

Please, I'm always looking for more.

{Quote hidden}

Last night, I went through my boxes of old diskettes and low and behold, I
found my old code (written in GWBASIC no less).  I rewrote it for three
wheels in "C" and I've put it at:

As you will see, this code runs through 17,576 wheel combinations in about a
second for my 133 MHz Pentium and 100 MHz 486 Laptop.  If I was to go
through a full 6 wheel selection (in this, the wheel selection and positions
are known), I would have 6 choose 3 more combinations to check for 120 times
more comparisions.  If I had to run these loops 120 more times, I would
expect a linear increase in execution time, resulting in the program taking
about two minutes (worst case) to find the wheels used, their positions and
initial states.

This reminds me of the story of the mathematician who "proved" it was
impossible for a rocket to go to the moon.  He demonstrated in calculations
that it would take one million pounds of fuel to get one pound of payload to
the moon.  He was also dead set against going to the moon for religeous

Something like ten years later, the first probes were landing on the moon
requiring about a thousand pounds of fuel for each pound of payload.  It had
turned out the mathematician had chosen the most fuel inefficient method to
get there that was possible.

I have no idea whether or not it's urban legend, just something I remember
being told.

>The writer certainly didn't seem to think that the original
>decoding effort was US based but I'm sure he also could be
>wrong :-).

The American program was parallel to the Brittish program.  As I said in the
previous note, the American's "Magic" program was originally intended to
decode the Japanese Diplomatic/Military codes.  After the Americans entered
the war, they offered their machines to the English, who refused, more for
reasons of pride (and a "NIH" attitude) than anything else.

>There were 2 different decoding efforts, the enigma machine
>used by many German troops and the ??? (name escapes me)
>which was meant to be far more complex and secure and only
>used by the "high command" for critical uses. Even when
>"cracked" the latter still required vast quantities of
>deciphering effort to produce plain text output.

I think the second one you're thinking of was the German Navel machines
which had four wheels (out of eight), rather than the standard three (out of
six).  The German Navy was very suspicious of using the enigma box and
wanted even more protection for the U-Boats and, as I said in my previous
note, were pretty much uncrackable until a sample (with it's wheels) was
captured intact.

{Quote hidden}

Hmmm...  I did not mean to infer that the Americans had better engineering
talent (and I'm a little surprised to see that interpretation was placed on
what I wrote).

What I was simply trying to say was, the American decoding engines were
based on off the shelf telephone switching equipment, that made them easier
to replicate, cheaper and ran faster and that some pig-headed managers
refused to a) buy American out of spite and b) copy the American features
for their own devices.

Maybe I should have pointed out that the British machines were designed by
mathematicians, while the American's machines were designed by engineers.

Now, if you want to infer that I'm saying that engineers are smarter than
mathematicians, I won't disagree with you *quite* so strenously.

>Andy Warren went on to write:
>Nevertheless, it DOES seem to be true... For proof, you merely need
>to own both a British car and a real car.

Actually, this is a pretty good argument against English engineers.  :)

Let me know what you think of the web page and program.  With the program
written in fairly standard "C", does anybody want to try running the program
on a PIC?


Opus:  There's a 465 pound woman pruning her azelias while wearing a pink
stretch bodysuit.

911 Operator:  So what's the emergency?

Opus:  From a taste perspective, it's a crisis of biblical proportions!

1998\02\11@231832 by John Payson

picon face
> Now, if you want to infer that I'm saying that engineers are smarter than
> mathematicians, I won't disagree with you *quite* so strenously.

A physicist, an engineer, and a mathematician were sleeping in identical
hotel rooms when identical fires broke out in each.

The physicist woke up, got out his instruments, calculated that it would take
9.837 buckets of water to extinguish the flames, and proceded to dump 9.837
buckets of water on the fire, extinguishing it (barely).

The engineer woke up, figured it would take about 12 buckets of water to put
out the fire, and proceeded to dump 24 buckets of water on the fire, drenching
it (thoroughly).

The methematician woke up, studied the fire, announced "A solution exists!"
and went back to bed.

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