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Memories That Shaped an Industry: Decisions Leading to IBM System/360 (History of Computing) Paperback – April 1, 2000


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About the Author

An internationally recognized leader in magnetics and computer memory technologies, Emerson W. Pugh is a member of the research staff at the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights and author of the widely used text, Principles of Electricity and Magnetism. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: History of Computing
  • Paperback: 323 pages
  • Publisher: MIT Press (April 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262661675
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262661676
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,519,396 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Frederick A. Ware on April 28, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Memories That Shaped an Industry by Emerson W. Pugh
A review by Frederick A. Ware
This was a fascinating book, covering the first 25 years of computer memory technology. The story includes technical details, legal battles, manufacturing disasters and personality clashes. It has a definite IBM-centric viewpoint, but that can probably be excused given IBM's dominance of the industry in this time period. The dominance was due in large part to IBM's mastery of ferrite core technology, as the book explains convincingly.
The early stored program computer was critically dependent upon the size and speed of its main memory. After the Eniac project demonstrated the ineffectiveness of patch cables for the (instruction) sequencing of digital calculating machines, it was generally recognized that instructions as well as data must be held in a central memory. The read and write time of this memory would effectively determine the performance of the computer, since an instruction would need to be accessed in every cycle. Several technologies were developed and discarded before the computer industry settled on a relatively robust solution - the ferrite core memory cell.
The book is chronological, with the relevant time period divided into roughly three intervals:
1945-50 Vacuum tube processors with delay line or CRT memories
1950-55 Vacuum tube processors with ferrite core memories
1955-70 Transistor processors with ferrite core memories
The ferrite core memory had a lifetime of roughly two decades before being supplanted by semiconductor memory in (about) 1970.
Chapter one covers the post-WWII period. The emerging computer industry had a number competing groups.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jay P on April 30, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is an inspiring story of the development of an important technology in the history of computers: magnetic core memories.

What are they? What technologies did they replace, and why were they so important? What other comupter technology did they enable? What were the challenges in designing and manufacturing core memory systems? (For instance, how in the world does one thread wires through thousands of tiny ferrite cores, in a way that allows the memory systems to be mass-produced profitably?)

All of this is explained in this delightful, well-written and informative book.

I'd recommend it to anyone who wants to further explore the history of computers, and also to someone who wants to read an inspiring story of engineers and scientists perfecting a successful product. It would also be of interest to someone who is familiar with modern computers, but wants to understand better the engineering steps that eventually led to today's powerful machines.

An in-depth understanding of computers would not be necessary to understand and enjoy this book; it should be readable by anyone interested in the subject.
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