Talk:George Stibitz

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Picture from George Stibitz Calculator-Computer[edit] —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:52, 29 June 2010 (UTC)

is it the Model K? Model I?[edit]

My newspaper article says that the computer is the Model I Complex Computer for which he received a patent in 1954; "Model I is recognized as the world's first electrical digital computer. It was the first computer to perform arithmetic operations using binary functions and the first placed in routine operation. In 1940, remote use of the computer was demonstrated for the first time with a teletype at McNutt Hall at Dartmouth College and the computer at Bell Laboratories headuareters in New york City". wvbaileyWvbailey 14:50, 5 June 2006 (UTC)

My information suggests that whilst he may have the patent it is a fact that the British Colossus machine (1943) was the first to perform these operations. Information on these machines (there were 10) is only now becoming available in the public domain. Facius 11:25, 23 July 2007 (UTC)
This would not surprise me. (The book I'm using below as a source is Turing's biography by Andrew Hodges Alan Turing: The Enigma). I am confused by the timing: All three men -- Stibitz, Alan Turing and Karl Zuse came to the binary-arithmetic idea in the same year (1937). In 1937, Turing, while getting his PhD at Princeton, built parts of a relay-based multiplier (p. 137-139). And this happened at the same time (1937) that Stibitz had built his little Boolean adder in his kitchen. Unknown to both men, Karl Zuse was hard at work building relay-based calculators in Germany. So we have to assume that if Stibitz was first that Turing must have heard about it (indeed he worked in the same building as Stibitz's "Model III" [!] but there is no evidence that the two men talked) and Turing decided to try it out for himself:
"The second American project was under way at Bell Laboratories. Here the engineer G. Stibitz had first only thought of designing relay machines to perform decimal arithmetic with complex numbers, but after the outbreak of war had incorporated the facility to carry out a fixed sequence of arithmetical operations. His 'Model III' [sic] was under way in the New York building at the time of Alan's stay there, but it had not drawn his attention." (cf pp. 298-299).
What I will do is type in the entire March 31, 1983 Valley News article on this page so others can see it. Stibitz granted this interview to the correspondent Melina Hill. wvbaileyWvbailey 18:53, 23 July 2007 (UTC)

The patent calls it the "Complex computer". so is it "the Model I Complex Computer", or "the Complex Computer" or what? Is this "Model K" thing verifiable? this kitchen thing a.k.a. his little 1/2-adder or full-adder or whatever it was. It's not "the computer", is it?WP:LEGS. wvbaileyWvbailey 00:22, 13 June 2006 (UTC)

Removing memetics category[edit]

I am removing the memetics category from this article since you learn no more about the article's contents from the category and v.v. Since so many things may be memes we should try to keep the category closely defined in order to remain useful. Hope you're okay with that. The link to meme would be enough I suggest. Facius 11:22, 23 July 2007 (UTC)

A Tinkerer Gets a Place in History, By Melina Hill, Valley News Correspondent, Valley News, West Lebanon NH, Thursday, March 31, 1983, page 13[edit]

[The Valley News is the Dartmouth-region's local newspaper. Dartmouth College is just a mile up the road from West Lebanon NH. Lebanon is a town nearby.]

Without warning, George R. Stibitz began receiving congratulatory letters.

One letter came from the vice president of Bell Laboratories. He wrote on official stationary congratulating Stibitz, a former employee and now professor emeritus at Dartmouth Medical School, for his nomination to the Inventor's Hall of Fame.

As one of the supporting institutions of the Inventor's Hal of Fame, Bell Laboratories has some say on the nominations. Bell employees were aware of the Stibitz nomination because they were working on his presentation.

Stibitz, though, was unaware of the nomination and only vaguely familiar with the National Inventors Hall of Fame, when the letter of congratulations arrived.

He thought the Bell official's note was too authentic-looking to be a hoax, he said in a recent interview.

"I told them I thought the nomination was a rumor," he said.

But it was neither hoax nor rumor.

Several days after the surprise letter arrived, another one did, this one an official one from the hall of fame itself.

Stibitz had been nominated, the letter said, for his 1954 patent for the Model I Complex Computer.

Model I is recognized as the world's first electrical digital computer. It was the first computer to perform arithmetic operations using binary functions and the first placed in routine operation. In 1940, remote use of the computer was demonstrated for the first time with a teletype i McNutt Hall at Dartmouth College and the computer at Bell Laboratories headquarters in New York City.

A bronze plaque in McNutt Hall commemorates Stibitz's early contribution to the computer age.

For the last 10 years, the federal Patent and Trademark Office, an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, has celebrated National Inventors Day on the weekend closest to Thomas Edison's birthday.

On February 13, Stibitz and four fellow inventors were inducted into the hall, joining 44 other members, including Thomas A. Edison, Henry Ford, Alexander G. Bell and Orville and Wilbur Wright.

Stibitz said he was surprised, flattered, and perhaps a little embarrassed by the honor. "A thing of that sort (the Model I computer) would be useless without the work of hundreds of others," he said. "If it were not for things done since my design, the computer wouldn't amount to much."

Stibitz, whose inventions have ranged into fields far less technical, if more intriguing, than computers, is modest about his revolutionary concepts. He leaned far back into the swivel chair in his office and praised the work of Bell Laboratories switching engineer Sam Williams, who built the computer from Stibitz's mathematical computations and designs.

Stibitz studied mathematics at Denison University in Ohio and received a masters degree in science from Union College in 1927, and a Ph.D in physics from Cornell University in 1930.

In 1937, he was working for Bell in New York as a mathematical consultant, solving technical problems for Bell engineers by using mathematics.

The mathematical solutions created by Stibitz and other consultants required extensive calculations, which were made by 25 to 30 women working on machines called desk calculators.

Unlike today's calculators, the desk calculators used a motor for energy but actually made the calculations mechanically.

The motor moved wheels that, in turn, moved a series of gears. Each gear represented one decimal place, and the machines could handle up to about 10 decimal places in a calculation, Stibitz said.

The mechanical calculators did simple numerical operations such as addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. They did not print the answer, but rather showed it on little dials similar to the way an old-fashioned cash register would ring up a grocery bill.

"It was burdensome," Stibitz said.

"Every operation had to be put in separately by hand and recorded by hand. Twenty-five women would work on what a hand calculator does easily today."

Stibitz thought that if standard telephone relays could be used to make mathematical calculations, the entire process would be simplified.

He went home one evening in 1937 intending to test his idea. He tinkered with two flashlight bulbs, some metal strips, two telephone relays, a dry cell and a few feet of wire.

When the tinkering was over, Stibitz had constructed a binary adding device. In its very simple way, the device proved that telephone relays could be used to make mathematical calculations.

Stibitz's adder was similar to a two-way light switch. A contact switch would either be on (closed) or off (open).

A closed contact would allow current to flow through the wires, and an open one would not, since in that position, the wires were separated.

The adder used two flashlight bulbs as signaling devices, designed similar to a two-way light swithch with light signals activated by the on-off contacts.

Since telephone relays work on the same principal, Stibitz was able to use the relays in his adder.

The flashlight bulbs signaled a mathematical response using binary mathematics, which use only two digits -- 0 and 1 -- to symbolize numbers rather than the numerals 1 through 9.

For example, using binary notation, the number 5 can be represented by the digits 101. The far right digit equals 2 to the zero power, or 1; the middle digit equals 2 to the first power, or 2; and the far left digit equals 2 to the second power, or 4. The binary notation 101, then, would equal one digit of 4, none of 2, and one of 1, for a total of 5.

A lighted bulb on Stibitz's adder equaled 1 and a dark bulb equaled 0.

Stibitz' binary adder, the result of "tinkering" with a germ of an idea, was revolutionary because it combined the accepted functions of telephone relays with binary math.

Three years later, much of the effort involved in doing mathematical calculations at Bell Laboratories was, as Stibitz had hoped it would be, reduced with the help of the new computer.

The Model I was the first of five computers that Stibitz designed for Bell. It was 8 feet tall, 6 feet across and about a foot thick.

By mid-1940, the Model I was hooked up to three teletypes [sic] machines in different parts of the Bell Laboratories plant, making it the nucleus of the first time-sharing system.

Stibitz [sic] successful tinkering has resulted in 35 patents and more than 46 publications.

Some of his unpatented inventions include a self-propelling lawn mower and a 40-foot windmill built in the 1930's to heat water for his house.

Stibitz built the lawn mower about 15 years ago and still uses it. It is guided by a clothesline rope that unwinds from a stake in the center of the lawn. It cuts about 1 acre in 2 hours, Stibitz said, noting that watching the mower at work is the only time he feel [sic] superior to a machine.

Even at 78, Stibitz believes in hard work and gets to his office at the Dartmouth Medical School by 8 a.m. He has been working since 1964 in the department of physiology on mathematical applications to biological problems.

Some of this work includes the motion of oxygen in the lungs, the diffusion of drugs and nutrient molecules in capillar blood vessels, and the exchange and secretion of substances in the kidneys.

He said he's working on two or three other projects, including a stucy [sic] of the respiration of the silk worm. By studying a respiratory system similar to that of humans, Stibitz hopes to gain a better understanding of man's respiratory system.

Stibitz has interests away from the drawing board, too. He took courses in harmony and compostion at Denison University and enjoys both piano and organ music. He's no professional-quality musician, he says, although he did substitute once as organist for a local church.

Dorothea Stibitz, his wife of 52 years, is a cellist and vocalist who has sung on occasion with the Lebanon Congregational church.

He is also a lover and critic of the printed word and a contributor to Edwin Newman's collection of printed language atrocities. Once, in an interview with J. Andrew Daubenspeck of the Dartmouth Medical School, he said: "There's enough illogic in a language under the best of circumstances. It seems a shame to further confuse things by careless and improper usage."

In 1965, the American Federation of Information Processing Societies recognized Stibitz's accomplishments by presenting him with the Harry Good Award. In 1977, Stibitz received the first Emmanual R. Piore award from the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers.

And now, he's in a hall of fame.

end of article ---

wvbaileyWvbailey 19:42, 23 July 2007 (UTC)

Father of the modern digital computer?[edit]

Can someone explain the justification for calling George Stibitz a father of the modern digital computer, and for calling his machines computers rather than calculators? I edited the former phrase to read father of modern digital computing techniques, and changed relay-based computer to relay-based calculator but Wvbailey undid this saying that the inventor of the digital adder is a father of “the computer”. History shows that it is common for new ideas to arise in different places at similar times, and it is often difficult to establish whether, or to what extent, different inventors knew of the ideas of others.

As I understand it, Alfred North Whitehead and Bertrand Russell had shown in Principia Mathematica (published 1910-1913) that all of mathematics could be derived from the principles of logic alone, that had been annunciated by George Boole. This was well known amongst mathematicians, but less so in other circles.

In 1936 Konrad Zuse in Germany built his Z1, which was a binary electrically driven mechanical calculator with limited programmability, reading instructions from punched tape. The machine was basically a 22-bit floating point value adder and subtracter, with some control logic making it capable of more complex operations such as multiplication (by repeated additions) and division (by repeated subtractions).

Alan Turing’s paper On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem was published in 1937. It addressed a problem that had been raised by David Hilbert, and described a theoretical machine that is now known as the Universal Turing Machine. Turing made reference to Alonso Church’s solution of the same problem by a different method. This paper, with its idea of a universal computing machine, is widely regarded as being seminal in the development of modern computers, despite the fact of Emil Post having had—but not published—a similar idea earlier.

Whilst Alan Turing was a PhD student at Princeton University in 1937 he designed an electric multiplier and built the first three or four stages using, like Stibitz, relay-operated switches.

Claude Shannon, published a paper in 1938, drawn from his 1937 MIT master's thesis, A Symbolic Analysis of Relay and Switching Circuits, which demonstrated that electrical application of Boolean algebra could construct and resolve any logical, numerical relationship. Shannon and Stibitz were later both employed at Bell Labs.

So, it is clear that there a large number of people from Charles Babbage onwards who can justifiable called a father of the modern digital computer, which rather devalues the statement.

A larger question, however, is whether machines that are not controlled by a program that can be modified, should be regarded as computers, rather than calculators. It is notable that Stibitz’s complex number machine was called a calculator rather than a computer. I know that a 1973 U.S. District Court ruling about the ABC supported this idea, but it seems perverse by today’s standards.--TedColes (talk) 08:57, 1 June 2009 (UTC)

In the light of a lack of a response in justification, I have changed 'a father' to 'one of the fathers' and 'computer' to 'calculator' in the description of his Model K. --TedColes (talk) 16:43, 13 June 2009 (UTC)
Your first fix is fine with me, but the second is inaccurate (computer to calculator). There's an interesting piece of history re the relationship between Stibitz and Turing. It turns out that Turing was in the US, at Princeton NJ working on his PhD thesis at the time that Stibitz et. al. were at Bell Labs in NJ working on their binary computation device (Turing's biographer Andrew Hodges calls it the 'Model III'). Turing was so fascinated with whatever he had learned was going on (here's where the history is murky) that he went and built a binary multiplier-- he hand-wound and hand-made his own relays. (This stuff can be found in Andrew Hodges bio of Turing pp.299 ff and in Martin Davis's Engines of Logic pages 169-170). Apparently H. Aiken at Harvard and von Neumann also figure prominently in this. But we have to remember that Turing's ideas (universal machine) did not use binary arithmetic. That was what Stibitz et. al. contributed. Von Neumann and Goldstein et. al. pulled it all together into the Eniac. From what I gather Zuse and Aiken's machines were calculators as opposed to "computers" with conditional branching. Bill Wvbailey (talk) 17:35, 14 June 2009 (UTC)

What exactly did he invent?[edit]

I do not understand what did the guy invented. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:20, 13 October 2010 (UTC)

Actually this is a good question, and I'm not sure from the description of the Valley News, exactly what it was that he invented; we'd have to see his notes and/or the prototype itself. At the most his little prototype, literally laid out on a bread board, was (the invention of) the "binary adder", that is, he took notions from pure, theoretical mathematics -- the logical notions of exclusive OR coupled and AND gate -- implemented these theoretical notions with plain old electrical relays (e.g. telegraph keys and clickers, you can build them with wire, nails and tin cans) and did binary addition. So: 1 + 1 = 102, 1 + 0 = 012, 0 + 1 = 012, 0 + 0 + 002. At the least he built a binary half-adder, which is just the exclusive-OR without the AND that is necessary for the carry. There's a bit more to it if he were to have included the carry from the previous stage. But fundamentally the invention was the idea that by using notions from pure mathematics (mathematical logic, Boolean algebra) one could do addition with really simple off-the shelf stuff, and you didn't need the whirring wheels and gears of the adding machines of the time to do the job. But these details need to be supported/corroborated/detailed by published references, which I don't have. Bill Wvbailey (talk) 00:11, 14 October 2010 (UTC)

You Tube Video about George Stibitz and his Invention[edit]

Here is a link to a great You Tube Video: — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:38, 11 January 2012 (UTC)