Stories from the Archives
Behind the Scenes
How did undergraduates in 2019 immerse themselves in computation of the 1950s? Find out more here.
Announcement of the IBM 704
In December of 1955, MIT and IBM collaborated in a joint press release to announce that the university would be receiving its own IBM 704 computer. This new device was very advanced for its time, and would significantly impact many fields of study.
Beginnings of CS at MIT
Today, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science is the biggest department at MIT, and the CS portion makes up the majority of it. To many, it would seem like this has always been the way of MIT, but that was not the case. CS at MIT is a rather recent development that had humble beginnings.
Cost of Using a Supercomputer
With an infinite amount of problems to solve and only one supercomputer, time usage for the Whirlwind 1 was limited. To actually use it, one would have to request time at rates up to $250/hour or $2400/hour when adjusted for inflation.
Digital Humanities: An Enduring Legacy
A time without digital humanities is a time long before commercial computers. Even at its earliest, when the hours of computation were meticulously counted and rationed, the investment of technology in the humanities thrived.
A Brief Journey Inside the IBM 704
There was once a time when the Massachusetts Institute of Technology didn't have any computers. Check out this story to learn about the huge primitive beast that changed MIT.
The Letter Network
Take a look at the top contributors in the MIT Computation Center archives by seeing a visualization of who was writing the most, and to whom.
Qualifications of a 704 Programmer
The idea of a programmer today is much different than what is was 60 years ago in the time of the IBM 704. Instead of your typical college educated, introverted programmer, the MIT Computation Center sought out a different type of demographic.
One might presume that the primary issue with the computers of the 1950’s was that they were slow. But lack of processing power was not necessarily the bottleneck here.
The Rise and Fall of Project Whirlwind
The development of the Whirlwind Project serves as a milestone in the computation history, as it was one of the first high-speed large-scale digital computers to be developed. However, there were many issues during the process of perfecting the machine that ended in its termination in 1959.
Women in Symbols
Although women’s contributions to the MIT Computation Center are not very visible in this archive’s external lab communications, some internal documents shed light on a piece of their work.
Computing in the 1930s - A Geospatial Timeline
A tour and timeline of notable events in the early history of computation.