Nathaniel Rochester (computer scientist)
|Born||January 14, 1919|
|Died||June 8, 2001|
Rochester received his B.S. degree in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1941. He stayed on at MIT, working in the Radiation Laboratory for three years and then moved to Sylvania Electric Products where he was responsible for the design and construction of radar sets and other military equipment. His group built the arithmetic element for the Whirlwind I computer at MIT.
IBM 701 computer
In 1948, Rochester moved to IBM where he designed the IBM 701, the first general purpose, mass-produced computer. He wrote the first symbolic assembler, which allowed programs to be written in short, readable commands rather than pure numbers or punch codes. He became the chief engineer of IBM's 700 series of computers.
In 1955, IBM organized a group to study pattern recognition, information theory and switching circuit theory, headed by Rochester. Among other projects, the group simulated the behaviour of abstract neural networks on an IBM 704 computer.
That summer John McCarthy, a young Dartmouth College mathematician, was also working at IBM. He and Marvin Minsky had begun to talk seriously about the idea of intelligent machines. They approached Rochester and Claude Shannon with a proposal for a conference on the subject. With the support of the two senior scientists, they secured $7,000 from the Rockefeller Foundation to fund a conference in the summer of 1956. The meeting, now known as the Dartmouth Conference, is widely considered the "birth of artificial intelligence."
Rochester continued to supervise artificial intelligence projects at IBM, including Arthur Samuel's checkers program, Herbert Gelernter's Geometry Theorem Prover and Alex Bernstein's chess program. In 1958, he was a visiting professor at MIT, where he helped McCarthy with the development of Lisp programming language.
The artificial intelligence programs developed at IBM began to generate a great deal of publicity and were featured in articles in both Scientific American and The New York Times. IBM shareholders began to pressure Thomas J. Watson, the president of IBM, to explain why research dollars were being used for such "frivolous matters." In addition, IBM's marketing people had begun to notice that customers were frightened of the idea of "electronic brains" and "thinking machines". An internal report prepared around 1960 recommended that IBM end broad support for AI and so the company ended its AI program and began to aggressively spread the message that "computers can only do what they were told."
In the 1960s, Rochester continued to work at IBM, directing cutting edge research in cryogenics and tunnel diode circuits. By 1975 he was working at IBM Cambridge Research on the IBM Chord Keyboard. Later he joined IBM's Data Systems Division and developed programming languages and advanced computer science.
- Pigott 1995.
- Crevier 1993, p. 39.
- Crevier 1993, pp. 39–40 and see McCarthy et al. 1955
- Crevier 1993, pp. 48–50.
- Crevier 1993, pp. 57 – 58.
- NRC 1999, under "The Private Sector Launches the Field".
- Crevier 1993, p. 57–58.
- Nathaniel Rochester et al. (December 1978). "The Chord Keyboard". IEEE Computer.
- US 4,042,777, "One-handed keyboard and its control means"
- Crevier, Daniel (1993), AI: The Tumultuous Search for Artificial Intelligence, New York, NY: BasicBooks, ISBN 0-465-02997-3
- McCarthy, John; Minsky, Marvin; Rochester, Nathan; Shannon, Claude (1955), A Proposal for the Dartmouth Summer Research Project on Artificial Intelligence
- United States National Research Council (1999), "Developments in Artificial Intelligence", Funding a Revolution: Government Support for Computing Research, National Academy Press, retrieved 30 August 2007
- Pigott, Diarmuid (1995), Nathaniel Rochester
- Oral history interview with Gene Amdahl Charles Babbage Institute, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. Amdahl discusses his role in the design of several computers for IBM including the STRETCH, IBM 701, 701A, and IBM 704. He discusses his work with Nathaniel Rochester and IBM's management of the design process for computers.