Archival History of Computing at MIT, 1950–62
The MIT Digital Humanities Programs, together with the MIT Libraries Department of Distinctive Collections, have digitized and contextualized the majority of archived documents relating to the history of the
MIT Computation Center
from the 1950s and early 1960s.
Search the Archive
Try searching for:
Social science research
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.