Difference between revisions of "Milestone-Proposal:Whirlwind Computer"

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{{ProposalEdit|a1=Whirlwind Computer|a2a=Cambridge MA|a2b=Boston Section|a3=1944  to 1959|a4=The Whirlwind I computer was developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology between 1945 and 1952 in a project directed by Jay Forrester. The project was first carried out in the Servomechanisms Laboratory. Later it separated to become the Digital Computer Laboratory and Lincoln Laboratory, Division 6, and testing continued through 1958. Jay Forrester served as director of both laboratories until 1956, and Robert Everett as associate director, then director. A key part of the Whirlwind I design was the high-speed and highly reliable magnetic core memory for the computer storage system, replacing electrostatic storage tubes. Jay Forrester was issued a patent for the magnetic core memory, and it was used successfully and widely in large computers.
 
{{ProposalEdit|a1=Whirlwind Computer|a2a=Cambridge MA|a2b=Boston Section|a3=1944  to 1959|a4=The Whirlwind I computer was developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology between 1945 and 1952 in a project directed by Jay Forrester. The project was first carried out in the Servomechanisms Laboratory. Later it separated to become the Digital Computer Laboratory and Lincoln Laboratory, Division 6, and testing continued through 1958. Jay Forrester served as director of both laboratories until 1956, and Robert Everett as associate director, then director. A key part of the Whirlwind I design was the high-speed and highly reliable magnetic core memory for the computer storage system, replacing electrostatic storage tubes. Jay Forrester was issued a patent for the magnetic core memory, and it was used successfully and widely in large computers.
 
 
HISTORICAL NOTES 1  
 
HISTORICAL NOTES 1  
 
The development of Whirlwind I, one of the first large-scale high-speed computers, began during World War II as part of a research project to develop a universal flight trainer that would simulate flight (the Aircraft Stability and Control Analyzer project). It was initiated by the Office of Naval Research and began at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Servomechanisms Laboratory in 1944. Eventually the focus of the grant, a flight simulator (using an analog computer), changed to developing a high-speed digital computer. While building the computer, researcher Jay W. Forrester invented random-access, coincident-current magnetic storage, which became the standard memory device for digital computers. For this he was granted a patent in 1956. Prior to Forrester's discovery, electrostatic storage tubes were used. The introduction and change to magnetic core memory provided high levels of speed and of reliability.
 
The development of Whirlwind I, one of the first large-scale high-speed computers, began during World War II as part of a research project to develop a universal flight trainer that would simulate flight (the Aircraft Stability and Control Analyzer project). It was initiated by the Office of Naval Research and began at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Servomechanisms Laboratory in 1944. Eventually the focus of the grant, a flight simulator (using an analog computer), changed to developing a high-speed digital computer. While building the computer, researcher Jay W. Forrester invented random-access, coincident-current magnetic storage, which became the standard memory device for digital computers. For this he was granted a patent in 1956. Prior to Forrester's discovery, electrostatic storage tubes were used. The introduction and change to magnetic core memory provided high levels of speed and of reliability.
 
A public announcement was made in late 1951 that the computer known as Whirlwind I was operational and available for scientific and military research. In 1951 Project Whirlwind was detached from the Servomechanisms Lab to become the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Digital Computer Laboratory. Unclassified research projects using the Whirlwind I computer were managed by the Digital Computer Lab staff on the MIT campus, where Whirlwind I occupied the Barta Building (N42), which had been acquired in 1947 to provide sufficient space for the computer as it was designed and constructed. In 1952 staff working on classified projects left to be part of the newly organized Lincoln Laboratory off campus, to form Division 6, Digital Computer Division. Although their projects were classified, the Whirlwind computer itself was not, and remained in the Barta Building. Jay Forrester served as director of both the Digital Computer Laboratory and Division 6, Lincoln Laboratory until 1956, when he became a member of the MIT faculty pursuing interests in system dynamics in management. Robert Everett served as associate director of both labs until he succeeded Forrester as director.
 
A public announcement was made in late 1951 that the computer known as Whirlwind I was operational and available for scientific and military research. In 1951 Project Whirlwind was detached from the Servomechanisms Lab to become the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Digital Computer Laboratory. Unclassified research projects using the Whirlwind I computer were managed by the Digital Computer Lab staff on the MIT campus, where Whirlwind I occupied the Barta Building (N42), which had been acquired in 1947 to provide sufficient space for the computer as it was designed and constructed. In 1952 staff working on classified projects left to be part of the newly organized Lincoln Laboratory off campus, to form Division 6, Digital Computer Division. Although their projects were classified, the Whirlwind computer itself was not, and remained in the Barta Building. Jay Forrester served as director of both the Digital Computer Laboratory and Division 6, Lincoln Laboratory until 1956, when he became a member of the MIT faculty pursuing interests in system dynamics in management. Robert Everett served as associate director of both labs until he succeeded Forrester as director.
 
The U.S. Air Force provided substantial financial support for Whirlwind applications and it was a key component in the design of the Air Force's SAGE (Semi-Automatic Ground Environment) air defense system in the 1950s. Research projects at Lincoln Laboratory resulted in the further development of two additional computers, the MTC (memory test computer) and TX-0 (transistor computer), by Group 63 of Lincoln Lab, Division 6.
 
The U.S. Air Force provided substantial financial support for Whirlwind applications and it was a key component in the design of the Air Force's SAGE (Semi-Automatic Ground Environment) air defense system in the 1950s. Research projects at Lincoln Laboratory resulted in the further development of two additional computers, the MTC (memory test computer) and TX-0 (transistor computer), by Group 63 of Lincoln Lab, Division 6.
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Whirlwind I computer, was shut down on May 29, 1959. It was leased by the Navy to the Wolf Research and Development Corporation of Massachusetts, and was disassembled and moved out of the Barta building in the spring of 1960. Computer artifacts from Whirlwind I and related Whirlwind projects are held by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Museum and the Computer History Museum, Mountain View, California.
  
Whirlwind I computer, was shut down on May 29, 1959. It was leased by the Navy to the Wolf Research and Development Corporation of Massachusetts, and was disassembled and moved out of the Barta building in the spring of 1960. Computer artifacts from Whirlwind I and related Whirlwind projects are held by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Museum and the Computer History Museum, Mountain View, California.
 
  
 
REFERENCES AND SOURCES
 
REFERENCES AND SOURCES
 
1. Project Whirlwind Collection, MC 665, box _. Institute Archives and Special Collections, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts
 
1. Project Whirlwind Collection, MC 665, box _. Institute Archives and Special Collections, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts
 
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2. Wikipedia. ":Whirlwind ( http://en.academic.ru/dic.nsf/enwiki/47556#
2. Wikipedia. http://en.academic.ru/dic.nsf/enwiki/47556#
 
 
 
  
  
 
FURTHER READING
 
FURTHER READING
 
Redmond, Kent, and Thomas Smith. Project Whirlwind: The History of a Pioneer Computer. Bedford, MA: Digital Press, 1980.
 
Redmond, Kent, and Thomas Smith. Project Whirlwind: The History of a Pioneer Computer. Bedford, MA: Digital Press, 1980.
 
 
Everett, Robert R. A History of Computing in the Twentieth Century, chapter on Whirlwind. Academic Press, 1980.
 
Everett, Robert R. A History of Computing in the Twentieth Century, chapter on Whirlwind. Academic Press, 1980.
  
Wildes, Karl, and Nilo Lindgren. A Century of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT, 1882-1982, chapter 17 "From Whirlwind to SAGE,” 280-301. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1985, pages 280-301.
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Wildes, Karl, and Nilo Lindgren. A Century of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT, 1882-1982, chapter 17 "From Whirlwind to SAGE,” 280-301. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1985, pages 280-301.|a5=TECHNICAL DESCRIPTION
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
|a5=The Whirlwind computer was  the first computer that operated in real time, used video displays for output.
 
Design and construction
 
  
By 1947, Forrester and collaborator Robert Everett [http://www.cs.stthomas.edu/faculty/resmith/papers/WhirlwindR-127.pdf completed the design] of a high-speed stored-program computer for this task. Most computers of the era operated in "bit-serial" mode, using single-bit arithmetic and feeding in large words, often 48 or 60 bits in size, one bit at a time. This was simply not fast enough for their purposes, so Whirlwind included sixteen such math units, operating on a complete 16-bit word every cycle in "bit-parallel" mode. Ignoring memory speed, Whirlwind was essentially sixteen times as fast as other machines. Today almost all CPUs do arithmetic in "bit-parallel"; some CPUs extend the idea to larger 32- or 64-bit words.
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By 1947, Forrester and collaborator Robert Everett completed the design of a high-speed stored-program computer. Most computers of the era operated in "bit-serial" mode, using single-bit arithmetic and feeding in large words, often 48 or 60 bits in size, one bit at a time. This was simply not fast enough for their purposes, so Whirlwind included sixteen such math units, operating on a complete 16-bit word every cycle in "bit-parallel" mode. Ignoring memory speed, Whirlwind was essentially sixteen times as fast as other machines. Today almost all CPUs do arithmetic in "bit-parallel"; some CPUs extend the idea to larger 32- or 64-bit words.
  
 
The word size was selected after some deliberation. The machine worked by passing in a single address with almost every instruction, thereby reducingFact|date=April 2008 the number of memory accesses. For operations with two operands, adding for instance, the "other" operand was assumed to be the last one loaded. Whirlwind operated much like a reverse Polish notation calculator in this respect; except there was no operand stack, only an accumulator. The designers felt that 2000 words of memory would be the minimum usable amount, requiring 11 bits to represent an address, and that 16 to 32 instructions would be the minimum for another 5 bits -- and so it was 16-bits. Nevertheless the small word size led John von Neumann to conclude the machine would be worthless.
 
The word size was selected after some deliberation. The machine worked by passing in a single address with almost every instruction, thereby reducingFact|date=April 2008 the number of memory accesses. For operations with two operands, adding for instance, the "other" operand was assumed to be the last one loaded. Whirlwind operated much like a reverse Polish notation calculator in this respect; except there was no operand stack, only an accumulator. The designers felt that 2000 words of memory would be the minimum usable amount, requiring 11 bits to represent an address, and that 16 to 32 instructions would be the minimum for another 5 bits -- and so it was 16-bits. Nevertheless the small word size led John von Neumann to conclude the machine would be worthless.
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Construction of the machine started the next year, an effort that employed 175 people including 70 engineers and technicians. Whirlwind took 3 years to build and first went online on April 20, 1951. The project's budget was $1 million a year, and after three years the Navy had already lost interest. The USAF picked up the work under "Project Claude".
 
Construction of the machine started the next year, an effort that employed 175 people including 70 engineers and technicians. Whirlwind took 3 years to build and first went online on April 20, 1951. The project's budget was $1 million a year, and after three years the Navy had already lost interest. The USAF picked up the work under "Project Claude".
  
The core of the machine
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the core of the machine
  
 
Speed of the original design (20 KIPS) turned out to be too slow to be very useful, and most of the problem was attributed to the fairly slow speed of the Williams tubes (or, more accurately, Williams-Kilburn tubes) used for main memory of 256 words. Forrester started looking at replacements, first using magnetic tape formed into spirals, even at one time considering using a 3-D array of neon lamps, and eventually creating core memory. Speed was roughly doubled (40 KIPS) as a result of using core when the new version was completed in 1953. The addition time was 49 microseconds and the multiplication time was 61 microseconds (before the main memory was converted to magnetic core).
 
Speed of the original design (20 KIPS) turned out to be too slow to be very useful, and most of the problem was attributed to the fairly slow speed of the Williams tubes (or, more accurately, Williams-Kilburn tubes) used for main memory of 256 words. Forrester started looking at replacements, first using magnetic tape formed into spirals, even at one time considering using a 3-D array of neon lamps, and eventually creating core memory. Speed was roughly doubled (40 KIPS) as a result of using core when the new version was completed in 1953. The addition time was 49 microseconds and the multiplication time was 61 microseconds (before the main memory was converted to magnetic core).
  
After the magnetic core memory was installed, the Whirlwind became the fastest computer of its time. With the change it had an addition time of 8 microseconds, a multiplication time of 25.5 microseconds, and a division time of 57 microseconds (excluding memory access time). The access time had been about 16 microseconds for the CRT memory which was reduced to only 8 microseconds with the magnetic core.|a6=|a7=|a8=No|a9=|a10=|a11=No|a12=|a13name=|a13section=|a13position=|a13email=|a14name=|a14ou=|a14position=|a14email=|a15Aname=|a15Aemail=|a15Aname2=|a15Aemail2=|a15Bname=|a15Bemail=|a15Bname2=|a15Bemail2=|a15Cname=|a15Ctitle=|a15Corg=|a15Caddress=|a15Cphone=|a15Cemail=}}
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After the magnetic core memory was installed, the Whirlwind became the fastest computer of its time. With the change it had an addition time of 8 microseconds, a multiplication time of 25.5 microseconds, and a division time of 57 microseconds (excluding memory access time). The access time had been about 16 microseconds for the CRT memory which was reduced to only 8 microseconds with the magnetic core.
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Revision as of 16:33, 6 December 2010

This Proposal has not been submitted and may only be edited by the original author.