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Computer Oral History Collection

Blanch, Gertrude  Search this
Bloch, Richard M.  Search this
Bradburn, James  Search this
Brainerd, John G.  Search this
Brown, George W.  Search this
Brown, Gordon S.  Search this
Buchholz, Werner  Search this
Burns, Robert  Search this
Atanasoff, John V.  Search this
Atchison, William  Search this
Auerbach, Issac  Search this
Bartik, Jean  Search this
Bauer, William  Search this
Beek, Allan  Search this
Bernstein, Mort  Search this
Bigelow, Julian  Search this
Coleman  Search this
Cohen, I. Bernhard  Search this
Computer History Forum.  Search this
COT Meeting.  Search this
Coombs, John  Search this
Crawford, Perry O.  Search this
Couret, Lynn  Search this
Campbell, Robert V.  Search this
Campaigne, Howard  Search this
Cannon, Edward  Search this
Canning, R.G.  Search this
Clem, Mary  Search this
Cass, James  Search this
CODASYL Meeting.  Search this
Clippinger, Richard F.  Search this
MIT Club Talks (Brown & Wiener).  Search this
Andrews, Ernest G.  Search this
American Federation of Information Processing Societies  Search this
Alt, Franz  Search this
Alrich, John  Search this
Association for Computing Machinery.  Search this
Association for Computing Machinery.  Search this
Argonne National Laboratories R.  Search this
Allard, Gerry  Search this
Aiken, Howard  Search this
Adams, Charles  Search this
Acton, Forman  Search this
Halstead, Maurice H.  Search this
Harmon, Leon  Search this
Harvey, Samuel  Search this
Hazen, Dean Harold  Search this
Gruenberger, Fred  Search this
Gunning, William  Search this
Hagen, Glenn E.  Search this
Hall, W.  Search this
Greenwald, Irwin  Search this
Greenwarld, Sidney  Search this
Griswold, Ralph E.  Search this
Grosch, Herbert R. J.  Search this
Goheen, Harry E.  Search this
Good, I.J.  Search this
Goteib, C.C.  Search this
Granholm, Jackson  Search this
Israel, David R.  Search this
Huskey, Harry D.  Search this
Kates, Josef  Search this
Juncosa, Mario  Search this
Householder, Alston S.  Search this
Horwitz, Bernhard R.  Search this
Hurd, Cuthbert R.  Search this
Howard, Bernard  Search this
Hopper, Grace Murray, 1906-1992  Search this
Holbrook, Bernard  Search this
Horner, Joseph  Search this
Horn, Robert J.  Search this
Herold, Henry  Search this
Herget, Paul  Search this
Holberton, Betty  Search this
Hertz, Ted  Search this
Elkins, Harold  Search this
Estrin, Gerald  Search this
Edwards, Walt  Search this
Elbourn, Robert  Search this
Eckert, J. Presper (John Presper), 1919-1995  Search this
Eddy, Robert Philip  Search this
Downey, William  Search this
Eckdahl, Donald  Search this
Dodd, Stephen  Search this
Dotts, Richard D.  Search this
Dietzhold, Robert  Search this
Dimsdale, Bernard  Search this
Desch, Joseph  Search this
Dickinson, Arthur H.  Search this
Curtiss, John H.  Search this
Dederick, Louis S.  Search this
Glazer, T.  Search this
Givens, Wallace  Search this
Gill, Stanley  Search this
Geisler, Murray  Search this
Garrison, Ken  Search this
Frankel, Stanley  Search this
Forrester, Jay W.  Search this
Forrest, Cameron B.  Search this
Forbes, George  Search this
Fenaughty, Alfred L.  Search this
Fein, Louis  Search this
Feign, David  Search this
Farrand, William R.  Search this
Fall Joint Computer Conference, 12/6/72.  Search this
Fall Joint Computer Conference, 11/17/71.  Search this
Everett, Robert  Search this
Nelson, Eldred  Search this
Neisius, Vincent  Search this
Northrop, John  Search this
Neovius, G.  Search this
Parker, R.D.  Search this
Palevsky, Max  Search this
Phelps, Byron R.  Search this
Patrick, Robert  Search this
Pickrell, D.  Search this
Phister, Montgomery  Search this
Pollmyer, R.  Search this
Polachek, Harry  Search this
Quady, Emmett  Search this
Postley, John A. R.  Search this
Rajchman, Jan  Search this
Ream, Norman  Search this
Reed, Irving S.  Search this
Rees, Mina  Search this
Rhodes, Ida  Search this
Rice, Rex  Search this
Rochester, Nathaniel  Search this
Rogers, Jim  Search this
Rogers, Stanley  Search this
Rosenberg, Milton  Search this
Rosenthal, Paul R.  Search this
Rubinoff, Morris R.  Search this
Salzer, John M.  Search this
Samuel, Arthur L. R.  Search this
Sarkissian, Harold  Search this
Schuette, Roger  Search this
Serrell, Robert R.  Search this
King, Paul  Search this
Kilpatrick, Lester  Search this
Killian, James  Search this
Kaufold, Leroy R.  Search this
Lanzarotta, Sandy R.  Search this
Kreuder, Norman L.  Search this
Korn, Irving  Search this
Kirsch, Russell  Search this
Lovell, Clarence A.  Search this
Lehmer, Derrick H.  Search this
Legvold, Sam  Search this
Larson, Harry  Search this
Martin, Richard R.  Search this
Marden, Ethel  Search this
Madden, Don R.  Search this
Lowe, John  Search this
McPherson, John C.  Search this
Mendelson, Jerry  Search this
Mason, Daniel R.  Search this
Mauchly, John R.  Search this
Michel, J.G.L. R.  Search this
Miller, Frederick G.  Search this
Menzel, Donald H.  Search this
Metropolis, Nicholas C.  Search this
Mitchell, Joel  Search this
MITRE Meeting.  Search this
Mills, Roger L.  Search this
Morton, Paul  Search this
Mumford, Louis  Search this
Mock, Owen  Search this
Morse, Philip B.  Search this
Wilkinson, James H. R.  Search this
Wilkes, Maurice R.  Search this
Wizenbaum, Joe  Search this
Williams, Charles  Search this
Wieselman, Irving  Search this
Wiener, Robert  Search this
Wild, Arthur  Search this
Wieser, C. Robert  Search this
Wrench, John W. R.  Search this
Woodger, Michael  Search this
Yowell, E.C. R.  Search this
Youtz, Pat  Search this
Woo, Way Dong  Search this
Wolfe, Philip  Search this
Woodbury, William R.  Search this
Wood, Ben D.  Search this
Zemanek, Heinz  Search this
Zuse, Konrad  Search this
Smagorinsky, Joseph  Search this
Slutz, Ralph R.  Search this
Skramstad, Harold R.  Search this
Skillman, Sherwood R.  Search this
SIAM/SIGNUM Meeting.  Search this
SIAM-72.  Search this
SHARE XXXVIII.  Search this
SHARE Meeting for Pioneers.  Search this
Taylor, Norman  Search this
Tanaka, David  Search this
Strong, Jack  Search this
Stibitz, George  Search this
Steele, Floyd G. R.  Search this
Sprague, Richard E.  Search this
Snyder, Samuel  Search this
Smith, Charles V.L.  Search this
TV Program KQED.  Search this
Uncapher, Keith  Search this
Torfeh, Mark  Search this
Travis, Irven  Search this
Todd-Tausskky, Olga  Search this
Tomash, Erwin  Search this
Toben, Gregory  Search this
Todd, John  Search this
Wheeler, R.J.  Search this
Whirlwind Discussion.  Search this
Ware, Willis H.  Search this
Wegstein, Joseph Henry  Search this
Wagner, Frank  Search this
Wang, An R.  Search this
von Hippel, Arthur  Search this
von Neumann, John  Search this
Armer, Paul, 1924- (computer technician)  Search this
Rabinow, Jacob, 1910-  Search this
Former owner:
National Museum of American History (U.S.). Division of Computers, Information and Society  Search this
43.5 Cubic feet (158 boxes)
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Oral history
Sound recordings
1969-1973, 1977
The Computer Oral History Collection (1969-1973, 1977), was a cooperative project of the American Federation of Information Processing Societies (AFIPS) and the Smithsonian Institution. This project began in 1967 with the main objective to collect, document, house, and make available for research source material surrounding the development of the computer.
Scope and Contents:
This collection consists of approximately 43.5 cubic feet of material documenting the development of the computer.
ABC -- Atanasoff-Berry Computer

ACE -- Automatic Computing Engine

ACM -- Association for Computing Machinery

ALGOL -- ALGOLrithmic Language

ALWAC -- Axel Wenner-Gren Automatic Computer

ARPA -- Advanced Research Projects Agency

BACAIC -- Boeing Airplane Company Algebraic Interpretative Computing System

BARK -- Binar Automatisk Rela Kalkylator

BINAC -- Binary Automatic Computer

BIZMAC -- Business Machine

BMEW -- Ballistic Missile Early Warning (System)

BUIC -- Back-up Interceptor Control

CADAC -- Cambridge Digital Automatic Computer

CALDIC -- California Digital Computer

CEC -- Consolidated Electrodynamics Corporation

CEIR -- Council for Economic and Industry Research

COBOL -- Common Business-Oriented Language

CODASYL -- Conference on Data Systems Languages

CONAC -- Continental Automatic Command

COMTRAN -- Commercial Translator

CPC -- Card Programmed Calculator

CRC -- Computer Response Corporation

DARPA -- Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency

DINA -- Digital Network Analyzer

DDA -- Digital Differential Analyzer

EDSAC -- Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator

EDVAC -- Electronic Discrete Variable Automatic Computer

EAM -- Electric [or Electronic] Accounting Machines [or Methods]

ENIAC -- Electronic Numerical Integrator and Automatic Computer

ERA -- Engineering Research Associates

ERMA -- Electronic Recording and Machine Accounting

FADAC -- Field Artillery Data Computer

FSQ -- Fixed Special eQuipment

IAS -- Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton University)

ICBM -- Intercontinental Ballistic Missile

ILLIAC -- Illinois Automatic Computer

INTERCOM -- Intercommunication System (Programming Language)

JOHNNIAC -- John [von Neumann's ] Integrator and Automatic Computer

JOSS -- Johnniac [John's Integrator and Automatic Computer] Open Shop System

LARK -- Livermore Atomic Research Computer

LAS -- Laboratories of Applied Science

LGP -- Librascope

MAC -- Magnetic Automatic Calculator/Multiple Access Computer

MADDIDA -- Magnetic Drum Digital Differential Analyzer

MAGIC -- Machine for Automatic Graphics Interface to a Computer

MANIAC -- Mathematical Analyzer, Numerical Integrator, and Computer

MIDAC -- Michigan [University of] Digital Automatic Computer

MIDSAC -- Michigan [University of} Digital Special Automatic Computer

MINAC -- Minimal Automatic Computer

MIT -- Massachusetts Institute of Technology

MITRE -- Massachusetts Institute of Technology Research Establishment

MX -- Missile, Experimental

NATDAN -- North American Digital Anaylzer

NATPAC -- North American Programmed Automatic Computer

NDRC -- National Defense Research Committee [of Office of Scientific Research and Development, World War II]

NELIAC -- Naval Electronics Laboratory International Algebraic Compiler

NORC -- Naval Ordnance Research Calculator [or computer] [Naval Ordnance Proving Ground]

NTDS -- Naval Tactical Data Systems

ONR -- Office of Naval Research

ORACLE -- Oak Ridge Automatic Computer and Logical Engine

ORDVAC -- Ordnance Discrete Variable Automatic Computer [AEC]

OSRD -- Office of Standard Reference Data [National Bureau of Standards]

PACT -- Project for the Advancement of Coding Techniques

QUAC -- Quadratic Arc Computer

RAMAC -- Random Access Memory Accounting Machine

RAYDAC -- Raytheon Digital Automatic Computer

REAC -- Reeves Electronic Analog Computer

RECOMP -- Reliable COMPuter

RESISTOR -- Reusable Surface Insulation Stresses [NASA computer program]

SCERT -- Systems and Computer Evaluation Review Technique

SCM -- Smith Corona Merchant

SEAC -- U.S. Bureau of Standards Eastern Automatic Computer

SHARE -- Society to Help Avoid Redundant Effort

SHOT -- Society for the History of Technology

SIAM -- Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics

SILLIAC -- Sydney [version of the ] Illiac

SIMSCRIPT -- Simulation Script

SNOBOL -- String-Oriented Symbolic Language

SSEC -- Selective Sequence Electronic Calculator

SUBROC -- Submarine Rocket

SWAC -- U.S. Bureau of Standards Western Automatic Computer

TPM -- Tape Processing Machine

UDEC -- United Digital Electronic Computer

UNIVAC -- Universal Automatic Computer

WEIZAC -- Weizmann Automatic Computer [at Weizmann Institute]

WISC -- Wisconsin Integrally Synchronized Computer
NT=No Transcript

The collection is divided into six series.

Series 1: Transcripts, 1967-1973, 1977

Series 2: Supplemental Documentation, 1922-1974

Series 3: Patents, 1940-1973

Series 4: John Vincent Atanasoff's Materials, 1927-1968

Series 5: Audio Tapes, 1967-1974, 1977

Series 6: Video Tapes, 1968-1972
Biographical / Historical:
The Computer Oral History Collection (1969-1973, 1977), was a cooperative project of the American Federation of Information Processing Societies (AFIPS) and the Smithsonian Institution. This project began in 1967 with the main objective to collect, document, house, and make available for research source material surrounding the development of the computer. The project collected taped oral interviews with individuals who figured prominently in developing or advancing the computer field and supplemental written documentation--working papers, reports, drawings, and photographs. The AFIPS provided the "seed" money to support the project and to aid the Smithsonian with its expenditures. Interviews were conducted by I.B. Cohen, A. Dettinger, Bonnie Kaplan, Elizabeth Luebbert, William Luebbert, Robina Mapstone, Richard Mertz, Uta Merzbach, and Henry Tropp. In some instances, the audio tapes and/or transcripts are not "formal" interviews, but rather moderated panel discussions/meetings, or lectures delivered by interviewees.
Related Materials:
The Archives Center contains several "computer" related collections:

American National Standards Institute, 1969-1979

Association for Computing Machinery Collection, 1958-1978 (Washington, D.C., Chapter)

N.W. Ayer Advertsing Agency Records, 1889-1972

Paul Armer Collection, 1949-1970

Robert G. Chamberlain Numerical Control Collection, 1954-1984

J. Childs Numerical Control Collection, 1952-1970

Computer Standards Collection, 1958-1978

Computer World Smithsonian Awards Collection, 1989-2001

Data Processing Digest Collection, 1955-1974

Max Holland Machine Tool Industry Collection, c. 1941-1990

Grace Murray Hopper Collection, 1944-1965

Information Age Exhibition Records, 1979-1990

Institute for Advanced Study Computer Project Records, 1950-1957

Instrument Society of America Collection, 1911-1969

Odex I Walking Robot Collection, 1973-1986

Jacob Rabinow Papers, 1910-1917; 1947-1990

Terry M. Sachs Collection, 1965-1969

Scientists and Inventors Portrait File, c. 1950-1980

Share Numerical Analysis Project Records, 1964-1970

SHARE Records, c. 1954-1984

Cliff Shaw papers, c. 1954-1985

Society for the History of Technology (SHOT) Records, 1956-1992

Warshaw Collection of Business Americana, c. 1754-1965

Whirlwind I Computer Collection, 1945-1959

B.H. Worsley, 1946-1959

Within the National Museum of American History there are other related collections that may be found in the Division of Medicine and Science. These collections contain both artifacts and documents. Artifacts include: digital computing machines, automatic digital computers and electronic calculators, logic devices, card and tape processors, slide rules, integrators and integraphs, harmonic analyzers and synthesizers, differential analyzers, other analog computing devices, space measurement and representation, time measurement, and combination space and time measurement. Documentation includes the Electronic Computers History Collection and the Mathematical Devices History Collection. Photographs and video materials can also be found. The Smithsonian Institution Archives contains administrative documentation regarding the Computer History Project.
The Computer Oral History Collection was a cooperative project of the American Federation of Information Processing Societies (AFIPS) and the Smithsonian Institution. This project began in 1967 and was concluded in 1973. This collection was transferred to the Archives Center in approximately 1986 from the Division of Information, Technology & Society, formerly known as the Division of Electricity.
Collection is open for research but original audio tapes and videotapes are stored off-site. Reference copies do not exist for all of the audiovisual materials. Contact the Archives Center for information at or 202-633-3270.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Computers  Search this
Engineers  Search this
Mathematics  Search this
Mathematicians  Search this
Physicists  Search this
Scientists  Search this
Interviews -- 1950-2000
Oral history
Sound recordings -- Compact disks
Computer Oral History Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
See more items in:
Computer Oral History Collection
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Online Media:

ARPA (Advanced Research Projects Agency) Space Projects

Collection Creator:
National Air and Space Museum. Archives Division.  Search this
Archival materials
Collection Restrictions:
The majority of the Archives Department's public reference requests can be answered using material in these files, which may be accessed through the Reading Room at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia. More specific information can be requested by contacting the Archives Research Request.
See more items in:
National Air and Space Museum Technical Reference Files: Space History
National Air and Space Museum Technical Reference Files: Space History / Series O: Space History
Archival Repository:
National Air and Space Museum Archives

ARPA (Advanced Research Projects Agency) Space Projects [Documents]

Collection Creator:
National Air and Space Museum. Archives Division.  Search this
Archival materials
Collection Restrictions:
The majority of the Archives Department's public reference requests can be answered using material in these files, which may be accessed through the Reading Room at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia. More specific information can be requested by contacting the Archives Research Request.
NASM.XXXX.1183.O, File OA-416500-01
See more items in:
National Air and Space Museum Technical Reference Files: Space History
National Air and Space Museum Technical Reference Files: Space History / Series O: Space History / ARPA (Advanced Research Projects Agency) Space Projects
Archival Repository:
National Air and Space Museum Archives

John Clifford Shaw Papers

JOHNNIAC computer
JOSS (Electronic computer system)
Shaw, J. Clifford (John Clifford), 1922-1991  Search this
ARPA (Advanced Research Projects Agency)  Search this
Association for Computing Machinery.  Search this
Dartmouth College  Search this
Digital Equipment Corporation  Search this
IBM (International Business Machines)  Search this
Massachusetts General Hospital  Search this
UCRL (University of California Radiation Lab)  Search this
20.5 Cubic feet (59 boxes, 4 oversize folders)
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Technical reports
Palo Alto (Calif.)
Pittsburgh (Pa.)
Santa Monica (Calif.) -- 1950-1980
Cambridge (Mass.)
bulk 1950-1971
The John Clifford Shaw papers contain reports, research notes, correspondence, memorandum, and diagrams documenting Shaw's development of one of the earliest list processing languages (IPL) and an early interactive, time sharing program, the JOHNNIAC Open Shop System (JOSS). The collection also contains printed material on the RAND Corporation and the evolution of the artificial intelligence and electronic computer industry in the 1950s and 1960s. In addition there is biographical material documenting Shaw's personal interests, family, and academic career.
Scope and Contents:
The John Clifford Shaw Papers contain reports, research notes, correspondence, memoranda, and diagrams documenting Shaw's development of one of the earliest list processing languages (IPL) and an early interactive, time sharing program, the JOHNNIAC Open Shop System (JOSS). The collection also contains printed material on the RAND Corporation and the evolution of the artificial intelligence and electronic computer industry in the 1950s and 1960s. In addition, there is biographical material documenting Shaw's personal interests, family, and academic career.

Series 1: Shaw's Career at Rand, 1950-1971, documents Shaw's most significant work. The subseries are arranged by specific projects and illustrate his pioneering work on programming languages, interactive time-sharing systems, heuristic problem solving, logic programming, stored programs, and artificial intelligence. This work included his role in the development of the JOHNNIAC computer and programs such as the Logic Theorist (LT), General Problem Solver (GPS), and the JOHNNIAC Open-Shop System (JOSS).

The materials include technical reports, research notes, correspondence, memorandum, coding sequences, and system tests. In addition, there are reports documenting the collaborative nature of the NSS team's work on human problem solving, computer simulation of human thinking, and complex information processing. The subject files in Series 1 document the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) role in the JOSS research and other work done by Shaw.

Series 2: Rand Environment, 1951-1986, is arranged into three subseries containing technical reports that document other computer related research being conducted at RAND during Shaw's tenure. These materials are not directly related to his work, including reports documenting defense related research. The series contains memoranda and correspondence illustrating the internal workings and daily operations at RAND from 1950 to 1971 and various sets of annual reports, progress reports, and newsletters from 1960 to 1971. In addition, there are historical materials commemorating RAND anniversaries, profiles of the company, and indexes to RAND publications and abstracts.

Series 3: Computer Industry, 1947-1973, consists of printed matter that documents developments at other institutions and companies engaged in artificial intelligence and programming research. The printed matter includes reports, manuals, brochures, and reprints of articles about research by other institutions, companies, and individuals. Also, there are materials from trips, conferences and seminars attended by Shaw.

Series 4: Consulting Work, 1972-1990, comprises Shaw's work after he left RAND in 1971. It consists of reports and reprints from companies and institutions for which Shaw worked or from those he saw as potential clients. Of particular interest are the research notes, on note cards and 8.5" x 11" paper that illuminate Shaw's ideas and thoughts regarding artificial intelligence and programming languages during this period.

Series 5: Biographical Information, 1933-1993, consists of printed matter regarding Shaw's life and accomplishments. It contains resumes, list of publications and lectures, salary history, and the outline for a book on JOSS. Material on Shaw's personal life includes information about his family, personal correspondence with Herbert Simon, Allen Newell and his wife, Marian, Chuck Baker, Edward Feigenbaum, and correspondence from authors requesting information or comment on future publications. Additionally, there are reprints and clippings that reveal Shaw's personal interests in political issues such as the Pentagon Papers, Watergate, the making of the hydrogen bomb, and Star Wars Defense Technology.
The collection is organized into five series.

Series 1: Shaw's Career at Rand, 1950-1971

Subseries 1.1: JOHNNIAC, 1950-1968

Subseries 1.2: Logic Therorist [See also Complex Information Processing], 1956-1963

Subseries 1.3: General Problem Solver (G.P.S.) and Heuristic Problem Solving, 1955-1967

Subseries 1.4: Chess Program, 1954-1973

Subseries 1.5: Complex Information Processing (C.I.P.), 1953-1972

Subseries 1.6: Information Processing Languages (IPL), 1956-1977

Subseries 1.7: JOHNNIAC Open Shop System (JOSS), 1959-1977

Subseries 1.8: Subject Files, 1954-1971

Series 2: Rand Environment, 1951-1986

Subseries 2.1: Related Papers and Reports (RM-Series), 1951-1972

Subseries 2.2: Reports and Papers—General, 1949-1971

Subseries 2.3: RAND Material, 1948-1988

Series 3: Computer Industry, 1947-1973

Series 4: Consulting Work, 1972-1990

Series 5: Biographical Information, 1933-1993
Biographical / Historical:
John Clifford Shaw (1922-1991) was born in Southern California. Shaw went to Fullerton High School, the same high school as Richard Nixon. Shaw's English teacher was Nixon's high school debate team coach. Shaw attended Fullerton Junior College from 1939 until February 1943. At the same time, he worked as a timekeeper at the Douglas Aircraft Company, where he was responsible for time-card calculations and reports. He served in the Army Air Force for three years during World War II as a navigation instructor and then aircraft navigator in the 4th Emergency Rescue Squadron in Iwo Jima, Japan. Shaw returned to California in 1947 and began working for the Beneficial Standard Life Insurance Company as an assistant to the actuary, compiling actuarial calculations of premium rates, reserve liabilities, and annual reports. Shaw and his wife Marian had four children: Doug (b. 1948), David (b. 1950), Donna (b. 1952), and John (b. 1962). By 1948, Shaw received his Bachelor's degree in Mathematics from UCLA and in 1950 joined the newly formed RAND Corporation as a mathematician.

The RAND Corporation evolved during the years after World War II amidst the escalating Cold War. Project RAND was originally carried out under a contract with the Douglas Aircraft Company. RAND was incorporated in May 1948. RAND, a California nonprofit corporation, was one of the earliest Cold War "think tanks" that functioned as an interdisciplinary research and development facility; it received large sums of money from the Air Force and Atomic Energy Commission. Throughout the 1950s, other agencies such as the Department of Defense, the Atomic Energy Commission, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) solicited scientific and foreign policy research from RAND. During Shaw's tenure (1950-1971), money flowed into RAND and enabled many scientists and researchers, including Shaw and his colleagues in the Math and Numerical Analysis Department, to explore new avenues of discovery.

Shaw's early work at RAND involved administrative matters, such as improving the processes of company management through automation of the computation and calculation techniques. This work included collaboration with Allen Newell on a radar simulator. In the mid-1950s, Newell and Shaw, and later Dr. Herbert Simon of the Carnegie Institute of Technology, formed the team known by the mid-1950s in the artificial intelligence field as NSS (Newell, Shaw, and Simon). The NSS team broke much ground in the field of artificial intelligence, programming languages, computer simulation of human problem solving, and man-machine communication. The radar simulator project involved studying how humans made decisions and whether one could design a program that could simulate human decision-making. While Newell and Simon concentrated on the human behavior aspect, Shaw focused on creating a programming language that would implement Simon and Newell's concepts.

When Shaw began working in 1950, RAND was using six IBM 604 calculators to satisfy its scientific computing needs. In the early 1950s, RAND decided that it needed more computational power to accomplish projects for the Air Force and decided to build a Princeton-type computer named JOHNNIAC, after computer designer John von Neumann. The Princeton Class computer was considered state-of-the-art and was running at RAND by the first half of 1953. William Gunning was the project leader and Shaw worked on the selection of the instruction set and the design of the operator's console. The JOHNNIAC became the basis for Shaw's work on conversational time-sharing in the 1960s.

During the early 1950s, the dynamic of the innovative process was at work as Shaw and Newell in California, and Simon in Pittsburgh, were theorizing about human decision making, programming languages, and how computers could be manipulated to process information more productively. Air Force funding enabled Shaw and his colleague's considerable intellectual and academic freedom to explore various hypotheses. In the mid-1950s, NSS began forming the theoretical basis for what they called Complex Information Processing (C.I.P.). C.I.P was the basis for the three main computer programs developed by NSS: the Chess Program, Logic Theorist (LT), and the General Problem Solver (GPS). By 1954, Shaw's focus was on utilizing the power of the JOHNNIAC to develop a viable language that could simulate human behavior.

In early 1954, Newell left RAND for Pittsburgh to work with Simon; Shaw remained at RAND. The NSS team focused on creating programs that would enable a machine to exhibit intelligent behavior and "think" like a human. Chess and the Logic Theorist (LT) were the first programs that evolved from their work. Shaw dealt with the programming aspects, as Simon devoted his time to human thinking processes for chess, logic, and problem solving. Newell, who was still employed by RAND, was the middle man who worked both in programming and human behavior. He flew back to California every couple of months in 1954 and 1955 to confer with Shaw. Because of language limitations, the chess program was temporarily put aside as NSS decided to finish the LT. Known as IPL (Information Processing Language), the language developed by Shaw was one of the first list processing languages. Through experimentation with assemblers, compilers, and interpreters, Shaw developed list processing sequences that allowed the computer to arrange and store data more effectively. The effectiveness stemmed from links that formed the lists. From a storage point of view, lists were inefficient. Shaw translated Simon and Newell's ideas into IPL. The IPL interpreter was able to compile and translate higher level language statements into machine language. The interpreters process the statements and carry out the indicated operations without generating machine code which must then be executed. Although not specifically programmed so, one of LT's innovative characteristics was that it proved mathematical theorems from Whitehead and Russell's Principia Mathematica, including a proof from Theorem 2.85 that the authors had missed. This was the most fascinating aspect of the program because LT was not programmed to find alternative proofs.

The NSS team's work on the LT was completed by the end of 1955, and it perfected the program language in the winter and spring of 1956. LT was one of the earliest programs to investigate the use of heuristics in problem solving. It was capable of discovering and working out proofs for theorems in symbolic logic. In the summer of 1956, NSS presented the LT program to the artificial intelligence community at the Dartmouth Artificial Intelligence Conference. Relatively unknown at the time, NSS excited the conference with the LT and the possibilities it opened in the study of programming languages and artificial intelligence.

The NSS team continued to focus on developing artificial intelligence. By 1957, NSS had constructed the General Problem Solver (GPS) program that attempted to demonstrate various human thinking processes in a variety of environments. At RAND and Carnegie Tech, studies were conducted that had human subjects think aloud in hopes of identifying human problem solving techniques and simulating them in GPS. NSS codified some human problem solving techniques such as means-end analysis, planning, and trial and error. Through the end of the 1950s, NSS produced improved versions of the IPL language and studied heuristic methods of decision making.

By 1960, when the JOHNNIAC was of insufficient computing power to support the level of computation needed, and IPL had been reprogrammed for the IBM 7090, List Processing (LISP), a high-level programming language had overtaken IPL as the language of choice for Artificial Intelligence research. Shaw's interests had shifted towards attempting to simplify the use of computers for all types of computer users. Simon and Newell continued to study how they could simulate human cognitive processes on a computer. Until this point, a user would have to be adequately trained in programming or need assistance from a programmer to use a computer like JOHNNIAC. Shaw was interested in programming the JOHNNIAC so RAND staff could utilize the computer for small as well as large scientific computations. The JOHNNIAC was available for experimental research projects because RAND owned a newer IBM 7090 (acquired in 1960) which handled the bulk of RAND's production computing load. Although JOHNNIAC was no longer state-of-the-art by this time, its major appeal was its reliability and capability for experimentation.

These factors were the impetus for the initiation of the JOHNNIAC Open-Shop System (JOSS) project in November 1960. JOSS was intended to be an easy to use, on-line, time sharing system. The JOSS research, conducted under the Information Processor Project, was formalized in 1959 as part of the RAND Computer Science Department and was heavily funded by the Air Force. The innovative character of JOSS was in the ease of use for the non-programmer, its remote access capabilities, the establishment of an interactive environment between user and computer, and the capability for RAND scientists and engineers to use the computer without an intermediary programmer. It was hoped that the JOSS project would bridge the communication gap between man and machine. JOSS's user language achieved this goal. It featured a small set of English verbs and algebraic symbols which did not need a programmer as intermediary between user and computer. During 1961-1962, Shaw selected the character set that would be used to write JOSS programs, its syntax, and grammar. The conversational environment included a Model B IBM Electric Typewriter. Tom Ellis and Mal Davis directed the hardware configurations and Ike Hehama, Allen Newell, and Keith Uncapher participated in the project discussions with Shaw.

The very limited JOSS experiments on the JOHNNIAC began in May 1963, with five consoles, one connected to the JOHNNIAC and four others located in the offices of various RAND staff. By June, a schedule of operations was in place and by January 1964, JOSS was fully implemented. The use of JOSS by RAND staff was higher than expected as users taught other users how to run the system. However, Shaw and the other designers worried that JOHNNIAC's hardware placed limitations on speed and storage which might taint the evaluation of JOSS. In July 1964, a second version of JOSS was proposed on a more powerful computer. C.L. Baker was named project head, and Shaw focused on developing the programming language for JOSS II.

After accepting numerous bids to replace JOHNNIAC, a contract was signed with Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) promising the installation of a PDP-6 computer and thirty consoles at RAND. The installation was completed by October 31, 1965. At the Fall Joint Computer Conference in Las Vegas in December 1965, the first demonstration of remote use of JOSS II was given. JOHNNIAC was retired on February 18, 1966, with Willis Ware delivering a eulogy and Shaw loading a final JOSS I program. By the end of 1966, JOSS II was available to users 24 hours a day, seven days a week on the new PDP-6/JOSS computer, which had thirty times the speed and five times the storage capacity as the JOHNNIAC version. In April 1967, the maintenance and improvement of JOSS II was transferred from the development group to a small staff under G.W. Armending. In 1971, at age 49, Shaw left the RAND Corporation.

In 1971, Shaw took a one-year appointment as a Research Associate in the Information Science Department at the California Institute of Technology. In 1972, he began working as a consultant which he continued for the rest of his professional career. Much of his work in the 1970s and 1980s consisted of formulating new ideas on operations research, video games, man-machine interfaces, interactive computer systems, time-sharing, information architecture design, and artificial intelligence. During the 1980s, Shaw also became more involved in church-related activities.

Shaw's work on creating the Information Processing Language in the 1950s and the JOSS program in the 1960s were the two major contributions he made to the fields of programming and artificial intelligence. His IPL-I programming language is one of the earliest examples of list processing languages now in widespread use. The JOSS program was one of the first easy-to use, remotely accessible, interactive programs that allowed non-programmers to utilize the power of a computer.
Related Materials:
Material in the Archives Center, National Museum of American History

Computer Oral History Collection, AC0196

Material in Other Institutions

Charles Babbage Institute

L.A. County Museum

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The collection was donated by John Clifford Shaw's eldest son, Doug Shaw, March 1997.
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Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning intellectual property rights. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Computer programmers  Search this
Mathematicians  Search this
Computers -- military applications  Search this
Decision making -- Mathematical models  Search this
System analysts  Search this
Online data processing  Search this
Computer industry -- 1950-1980 -- United States  Search this
Computational linguistics  Search this
Computer industry -- 1950-1980 -- Soviet Union  Search this
Mathematical models  Search this
Programming languages (electronic computers) -- 1950-70  Search this
Iph (Computer Program Language)  Search this
List processing (Electronic computers)  Search this
Job Control Language (Computer program language)  Search this
GPS (General Problem Solver)  Search this
Problem solving -- Data processing  Search this
Logic machines  Search this
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Correspondence -- 1950-2000
Technical reports -- 1950-1980
Notes -- 1950-1980
Memorandums -- 1950-1980
John Clifford Shaw papers, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.
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Tiros Satellite Documents

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Radio Corporation of America.  Search this
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5.45 Cubic feet ((5 records center boxes))
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Scope and Contents:
This collection contains documents pertaining to the Tiros/TOS/ESSA program. The material consists primarily of mission plans, engineering reports, and field operation procedures.
Biographical / Historical:
The Television Infra-Red Observation Satellite (Tiros) program was an outgrowth of the weather satellite program of the Army Ballistic Missile Agency and Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) of the mid-1950s. In 1958 ARPA let out a contract to the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) for ten satellites. In April 1959 the newly created National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) assumed responsibility for Project Tiros and the first of ten research and development launches occurred one year later (1 April 1960). On 2 July 1965 NASA launches the tenth and last of the original RCA satellites, by which time NASA, the Weather Bureau (later the Environmental Science Services Administration, ESSA), and RCA had agreed on the Tiros Operational Satellite (TOS) program. The nine TOS system satellites, coded ESSA, were all launched successfully between February 1966 and February 1969. The ESSA series were followed by five Improved Tiros Operational System (ITOS) satellites, for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the successor to ESSA. The Tiros/TOS/ESSA program provided the first system for gathering meteorological information, including daily information on cloud cover, upper level winds, pressure, and precipitation on a global scale.
NASA, Gift, 1965, XXXX-0199, Public Domain
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Meteorology -- Research  Search this
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