The Machine That Changed the World: Episode 2 - Inventing the Future
Personaje: ATANASOFF, John.
Personaje: BARDEEN, John.
Personaje: BRATTAIN, Walter Houser.
Personaje: ECKERT, John Presper.
Personaje (por omisión): HOPPER, Grace Murray.
Personaje: JOBS, Steven Paul.
Personaje: KILBY, Jack.
Personaje: MAUCHLY, John W.
Personaje: MOORE, Gordon E.
Personaje: NOYCE, Robert.
Personaje: SAMMET, Jean E.
Personaje: SHOCKLEY, William Bradford.
Personaje: WOZNIAK, Steve.

The Machine That Changed the World is a 1992 documentary series on the history of electronic digital computers, from the dawn of the computer in the 1800s to the early 1990s. It was produced by WGBH Television in Boston MA, in cooperation with the British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC), with support from ACM (Association for Computing Machinery), NSF (National Sciencie Foundation) and UNISYS. The series consists of five episodes.

Episode 2 - Inventing the Future.

This episode chronicles the rough times experienced by the computer pioneers, until the industry took off and changed the way the world does business.

The rise of commercial computing, from UNIVAC to IBM in the 1950s and 1960s.

Shortly after the war ended, ENIAC’s creators founded the first commercial computer company, the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation in 1946. The early history of the company’s funding and progress is told through interviews and personal home videos. They underestimated the cost and time to build UNIVAC I, their new computer for the US Census Bureau, quickly sending the company into financial trouble. Meanwhile, in London, the J. Lyons and Co. food empire teamed up with the EDSAC developers at Cambridge to build LEO, their own computer to manage inventory and payroll. It was a huge success, inspiring Lyons to start building computers for other companies.

The Eckert-Mauchly company was in trouble, with several high-profile Defense Department contracts withdrawn because of a mistaken belief that John Mauchly had Communist ties. After several attempts to save the company, the company was sold to Remington-Rand in 1950. The company, then focused on electric razors and business machines, gave UNIVAC its television debut by tabulating live returns during the 1952 presidential election. To CBS’s amazement, it accurately predicted an Eisenhower landslide with only 1% of the vote. UNIVAC soon made appearances in movies and cartoons, leading to more business.

IBM was late to enter the computing business, though they’d built the massive SSEC in 1948 for scientific research. When the US Census ordered a UNIVAC, Thomas Watson, Jr. recognized the threat to the tabulating machine business. IBM introduced their first commercial business computers in 1953, the mass-produced IBM 650. While inferior technology, it soon dominated the market with their strong sales force, relative affordability, and integration with existing tabulating machines. In 1956, IBM soared past Remington-Rand to become the largest computer company in the world. By 1960, IBM captured 75% of the US computer market.

But developing software for these systems often cost several times the hardware itself, because programming was so difficult and programmers were hard to find. FORTRAN was one of the first higher-level languages, designed for scientists and mathematicians. It didn’t work well for business use, so COBOL soon followed. This led to wider adoption in different industries, as software was developed that could automate human labor. 'Automation' become a serious fear, as humans were afraid they’d lose their jobs to machines. Across the country, companies like Bank of America (with ERMA) were eliminating thousands of tedious tabulating jobs with a single computer, though the country’s prosperity and booming job market tempered some of that fear.

In the ’50s, vacuum tubes were an essential component of the electronics industry, located in every computer, radio, and television. Transistors meant that far more complex computers could be designed, but couldn’t be built because wiring them together was a logistical nightmare. The 'tyranny of numbers' was solved in 1959 with the first working integrated circuit, developed and introduced independently by both Texas Instruments and Fairchild. But ICs were virtually ignored until adopted by NASA and the military for use in lunar landers, guided missiles, and jets. Electronics manufacturers soon realized the ability to mass-produce ICs. Within a decade, ICs cost pennies to produce while becoming a thousand times more powerful. The result was the birth of the Silicon Valley and a reborn electronics industry.

Ted Withington (network engineer, industry analyst),
Paul Ceruzzi (Smithsonian),
J. Presper Eckert (ENIAC co-inventor, died 1995),
Morris Hansen (former US Census Bureau, died 1990),
John Pinkerton (Chief Engineer, LEO, died 1997),
Thomas J. Watson, Jr. (Chairman Emeritus, IBM, died 1993),
James W. Birkenstock (retired Vice President, IBM, died 2003),
Jean Sammet (programming language historian, died 2017),
Dick Davis (retired Senior V.P., Bank of America),
Robert Noyce (co-inventor, integrated circuit, died 1990),
Gordon Moore (former Chairman of the Board, Intel),
Steve Wozniak (Co-founder, Apple)

Note 1: This Episode II had the opportunity to give credit for the 'invention' of the computer to one John Vincent Atanasoff. Atanasoff, together with a graduate student, Clifford Berry, developed a special purpose computer in the late 1930's that contained many of the elements of the modern computer. However, the development of the machine was hampered by the outset of World War II, and both Atanasoff and Berry moved to other work. In a later court case between Honeywell and Sperry Rand, the judge found the orininal patent claims by John Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert to be invalid, stating that the inventor of the computer was "One, John Vincent Atanasoff".

Note 2: Another missing person is Grace Murray Hopper. Dr. Hopper was perhaps the first modern woman to be involved in computers (Ada King, Countess of Lovelace possibly being the first in the 19th century). She started work for Howard Aiken in 1943 on the Harvard Mark I Calculator (also called the IBM ASCC). Sunsequently she became deeply involved in the development of high level languages for computers, creating the concept of a compiler, and two early languages. She was highly influential in the development of COBOL and its usage in military installations. She became the highest ranking female Navy person of her time (Rear Admiral) and a role model to thousands of young women. She is perhaps best known for her discovery of the first computer bug in the Harvard Mark II computer. The bug now resides at the National Museum of American History in Washington DC.

In this episode:
The Growing Market for Computers.
The First Computer Company.
Bureau of the Census Machine.
UNIVAC -- A magazine advertisment of the time, courtesy Unisys & GTE Sylvania, through WGBH Press Kit.
Magnetic Tape.
Lyons Electronic Office- LEO.
John Pinkerton .
Commercial Applications.
Cambridge University- EDSAC.
McCarthyism - Impact on Mauchly.
Henry Strauss.
Remington Rand.
1952 Presidential Election.
IBM Enters the field.
SSEC - Selective Sequence Electronic Computer.
The First Drum Machine- IBM 650.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
Programming Languages- Errors.
Process Control and Automation.
Bank of America - ERMA.
Magnetic Ink Character Recognition - MICR.
The Transistor.
Brattain, Bardeen, Shockley.
Integrated Circuit- Kilby & Noyce.
Computers and Space.

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