Doug Menuez spent 15 years in the middle of what many call the golden era of Silicon Valley. Between 1985 and 2000, he had unparalleled access to Steve Jobs, Steve Capps, and 70 other people and companies including Adobe and NeXT. His astounding archive of images comprise one of the richest records of this seminal moment in American and technological history.
Still, his negatives sat unpublished for years, in no minuscule part because of a dispute with Jobs, but they recently were relinquished in the book Fearless Genius. Menuez has been peregrinating the world verbalizing about what it was relish to witness the elevate of the digital age. What’s surprised him most, he verbalizes, is how little even those in the tech industry ken about this key moment in time.
“It’s been shocking to visually perceive how many people don’t ken their own history,” he verbalizes.
Menuez hopes to transmute that, because he believes the people he documented engendered an affluent and vital culture that has vanished. Back then, he verbally expresses, Silicon Valley was fixated on building technology that would fundamentally change things like edification for the more preponderant. Information wanted to be free, for the betterment of all. “People fucking died and went to the psych ward and espousements broke up because people were reaching for incipient things that were genuinely, authentically hard,” he verbalizes. There’s still marginally of that idealism, he verbally expresses, but there’s withal an inordinate amount of time spent building mobile games and yet another gregarious network.
The next step for Menuez is a documentary featuring interviews with some of the figures he photographed all those years ago. He accepts that we cannot live in the past, but verbalizes he wants to keep pushing people to recollect an era of invention and bold cerebrating that has not been equaled since.
“I want us to be more cognizant of the values they had had back in 1980s and ’90s,” he verbalizes. “I don’t want to leave the impression that I cerebrate Silicon Valley is a dead forest these days. But I do cerebrate things have transmuted.”
In october 1944 the Army funded a project for Mauchly and Eckert (still at the Moore School) to develop a binary (not decimal) computer capable of storing a program internally. They hired John von Neumann as a consultant, who in june 1945 distributed the design for the Electronic Discrete Variable Automatic Computer (EDVAC), eventually deployed at the University of Pennsylvania in august 1949 three years after the two inventors had already left the university to commence their own company. Meanwhile, in Britain in february 1946 Alan Turing, who had been commissioned an electronic computer by Britain’s National Physical Laboratory, distributed the design for the Automatic Computing Engine (ACE). The Pilot ACE, deployed in may 1950, had 1,450 thermionic valves (vacuum tubes). However, Pilot ACE was not practical for programming and Turing’s template was expeditiously forsook in favor of John von Neumann’s architecture.
Still in Britain, Frederick Williams at the University in Manchester developed a tube that was a variation on the cathode-ray tube. It turned out that these Williams tubes could be habituated to implement Random Access Recollection (RAM), a type of computer recollection that was convenient for storing a program (in antecedent computers the program had to be entered manually each time, either through switches or paper tapes). Williams’ team set out to build a computer. Williams’ assistant Tom Kilburn ran the first computer program in june 1948. What genuinely made the difference was the recollection: the Williams tube sanctioned recollection to elongate enough so as to hold not only the data but additionally the program. The world’s first stored-program computer, officially denominated Manchester Small-Scale Experimental Machine, was nicknamed “Baby”. The computer was yare in 1949, and British bulwark contractor Ferranti built the commercial version, the Manchester Mark 1, in 1951. Another early stored-program electronic computer from Britain was the Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator (EDSAC), that debuted in 1949, built by Maurice Wilkes at the University of Cambridge.
The first stored-program electronic computer to be deployed in the USA for general use was the SEAC in may 1950 at the National Bureau of Standards (NBS) in Washington, rudimentally a scale-down version of the EDVAC (pristinely designated as an “interim” computer when it was conceived in 1948). It was additionally the first computer to utilize semiconductor contrivances (10,500 germanium diodes) in lieu of vacuum tubes for its logic. It had a recollection of 512 words of 45 bits each (the equipollent of about 2.5 kilobytes). A program was entered via teletype or paper tape as a string of hexadecimal characters. The console to control the computer had no keyboard but just switches and dials. The NBS trained a relatively sizably voluminous staff of programmers. The “interim computer” was designed by an immensely colossal team of 33 people, organized in two groups: the engineers, headed by Sam Alexander and featuring Bob Elbourn, Ruth Haueter (the sole female engineer) and Sidney Greenwald; and the mathematicians, headed by Ed Cannon and featuring Ida Rhodes, Ethel Marden and Joe Levin.
The age of differential analyzers was coming to a terminus. The last one was the Magnetic Drum Digital Differential Analyzer (MADDIDA), built in 1951 in Los Angeles by Northrop Aircraft.
In 1950 the Remington Rand Corporation of Incipient York purchased Mauchly’s and Eckert’s computer business and turned it into their Univac division with the aim of engendering the “Universal Automatic Computer”, which Mauchly and Eckert dutifully distributed the following year to the Census Bureau of the regime, their first and only customer afore they were rescued by Remington Rand. In 1951 Grace Murray-Hopper, a pupil of Aiken at Harvard who had joined the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation in 1949, developed the first compiler for a computer programming language, the A compiler for the Univac, a language that eventually evolved into B-0 or Flow-matic (1955). Meanwhile, the main customer for IBM’s early computers was the Naval Surface Weapons Center at Dahlgren (Virginia): they bought the electromechanical Mark II in 1948 and then the semi-electronic Mark III in 1951, both designed again by Howard Aiken like the Harvard Mark I. In 1952 IBM introduced its first electronic computer, dubbed IBM 701, designed at a laboratory north of Incipient York by the team assembled by Ralph Palmer, a former electronic engineer of the Navy who had no experience with the Harvard project but had just introduced IBM’s line of electronic calculators. Remington Rand responded in 1953 with the Univac 1103, the first commercial computer in the USA equipped with Random Access Recollection (RAM) a` la Manchester Mark 1, which pristinely had been a military project. In 1946 the Navy had established a company in Minneapolis, Engineering Research Associates (ERA), to build its top-secret computer, first the Atlas (operational in december 1950 and only available to the Navy) and then the Atlas II (of which 20 were built and sold to the general market). In 1952 Remington Rand bought Engineering Research Associates (including an adolescent Seymour Cray) and commercialized the Atlas II as the Univac 1103. Then Gene Amdahl architected the IBM 704 of 1954, which used vacuum tubes, had RAM and withal came with a rudimentary “operating system”. The RAM of both the Univac 1103 and the IBM 704 superseded the cathode-ray tube storage with an incipient kind of storage, “magnetic core”. However, IBM’s first mass-engendered computer, designed at yet another laboratory in upstate Incipient York, was the low-cost 650, withal introduced in 1954, but it was still decimal, not binary, and had a rotating drum recollection in lieu of the magnetic-core RAM. The era of commercial computers had commenced with a race between Univac and IBM. Univac had acquired the technology from outside, and needed to integrate the Remington Rand research center of Connecticut with the EMCC facility of Pennsylvania and with the ERA facility of Minnesota. IBM had grown the technology internally.
IBM probably won out (in the long term) because of its involution in yet another military project, the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE). With funding from the Navy that was fascinated with a flight simulator, between 1948 and 1951 at the MIT a team led by Jay Forrester had built the “Whirlwind” computer, the first authentic-time system and the first computer to utilize a video exhibit for output. Norman Taylor had worked on the Whirlwind from its inception in 1948 and Jack Gilmore had indited the assembler program. Meanwhile, the Air Force needed a system to rapidly process the data emanating from a network of radars in case of a Soviet attack against the USA. SAGE was assigned to the MIT’s Whirlwind team in 1954 with the goal to engender a system for monitoring and intercepting enemy rockets. IBM was in charge of acclimating the Whirlwind computer to the task, and the result was the AN/FSQ-7 computer, which (first distributed in 1958) still remains the most immensely colossal computer ever built: it weighed 275 tons and covered 2,000 square meters of floor space, and contained 55,000 vacuum tubes. Another innovation was that the radars would send data to the computer in digital format by modem over telephone lines (a feature developed by AT&T that jumpstarted its digital telecommunications business).
The 704 used conceptions pristinely developed for yet another military contract. In 1950 a regime agency, the Navy Bureau of Ordnance, commissioned a superfast computer for the Naval Surface Weapons Center at Dahlgren (Virginia), which IBM denominated Naval Ordnance Research Computer (NORC). Built between 1950 and december 1954 in collaboration with Columbia University under the direction of astronomy pedagogia Wallace Eckert, this vacuum-tube computer that used RAM a` la Williams tubes was indeed the most expeditious computer of its time. It withal introduced an architectural innovation: an input-output subsystem that executed while the computation perpetuated, to minimize in-between time (a feature that was transferred to the commercial computer IBM 709 in 1960 and then became a standard for all computers).
Half of IBM’s computer-cognate revenues of the 1950s emanated from two military contracts: the guidance computer for the B-52 bomber, and SAGE. SAGE alone accounted for sales of $500 million in the 1950s.
Early IBM computers that later became industry standards were the 704 and 709. The 704 used conceptions pristinely developed for yet another military contract. In 1950 a regime agency, the Navy Bureau of Ordnance, commissioned a superfast computer for the Naval Surface Weapons Center at Dahlgren (Virginia), which IBM designated Naval Ordnance Research Computer (NORC). Built between 1950 and December 1954 in collaboration with Columbia University under the direction of astronomy edifier Wallace Eckert, this vacuum-tube computer that used RAM with Williams tubes was indeed the most expeditious computer of its time. It additionally introduced an architectural innovation: an input-output subsystem that executed while the computation perpetuated, to minimize in-between time (a feature that was transferred to the commercial computer IBM 709 in 1960 and then became a standard for all computers).
The transition from the early task-oriented computers to the general-purport IBM and Univac computers had largely been enabled by the development of Random Access Recollection. Its first prosperous and affordable implementation was in terms of magnetic-core recollection, a technique that emerged out of research conducted in the 1950s mainly around Boston. Two groups contributed to its refinement: Chinese-born physicist An Wang at Harvard’s Computation Laboratory under Aiken since 1949 (and at his own Wang Laboratories since 1951) and Jay Forrester’s Whirlwind project at the MIT. Wang can additionally be credited for introducing the conception of outsourcing hardware manufacturing to the Far East, as magnetic-core recollections were probably the first computer component whose price declined rapidly thanks to frugal labor in the Far East. Magnetic-core recollections superseded the old assemblies of relays and/or vacuum tubes that were not efficacious in retrieving and returning data.
Within ten years the computer industry had undergone a dramatic transformation. Initially computers were wartime regime projects. Then diminutive companies (mainly working for regime agencies) tested the incipient technology and the market for it. Finally, the sizably voluminous office automation players (Remington Rand, IBM, NCR, Burroughs) entered the field. The eletronic megacorporations (General Electric, RCA) were adherents, not bellwethers: their first computers were respectively the ERMA (1956) and the BIZMAC (1956). In 1955 General Electric’s revenues were $3 billion, whereas IBM didn’t even reach half a billion: General Electric had the ken-how, the engineers and the capital to dwarf IBM and Univac in the computer field; but it didn’t. On the contrary, in 1955 IBM passed Remington Rand for number of installed computers and became the world bellwether in computers.
The computer had been invented by scientists fascinated with solving intricate mathematical quandaries such as nonlinear differential equations and had found its first practical application in military-cognate tasks. The first companies to realize the non-military potentiality of the computer were the ones making typewriters, cash registers, integrating machines and tabulating machines, not the ones making electronic components.
Jay Forrester’s Whirlwind project (and the subsequent SAGE project) gave Boston an astronomically immense lead in computer science over the rest of the country. In 1951 the Air Force culled the MIT to engender a state-of-the-art laboratory for computer science, the Lincoln Laboratory, which probably became the main center for training computer scientists in the entire world.
Another major center for computer innovation was the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where in 1951 a team develped the ORDVAC, predicated on Von Neumann’s EDVAC, which became the second computer entirely built within a university (after the Manchester one) albeit on behalf of the Army, followed in 1952 by its more famous twin, the ILLIAC I (Illinois Automatic Computer), which remained to be utilized by the university. They gasconaded 5 kilobytes of recollection (or, more preponderant, 1024 40-bit words). Incidentally, a member of that team, Saburo Muroga, returned to Japan to build that nation’s second computer, the Musashino-1 (1957), following Okazaki Bunji’s FUJIC (1956) at Fuji. In 1960 Donald Bitzer at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign utilized this very ILLIAC computer to engender PLATO, the first computerized system for learning that inaugurated the field of computer-predicated inculcation. Despite the constraints of input/output contrivances, Bitzer realized that graphics was to be crucial to utilizing computers to edify.
Located far from the research centers of the sizably voluminous office automation companies (IBM, NCR, Burroughs, Remington), peripheral to the strategies of the electronic giants (General Electric, RCA, Honeywell, AT&T) and left out of the loop of the sizably voluminous regime-funded computing projects (Boston’s Lincoln Lab and Philadelphia’s Moore School), on the West Coast the computer industry was constrained to accommodate the desiderata of the booming aviation industry of Los Angeles, namely Northrop Aircraft, Raytheon, Rand and Hughes. These projects too were mostly funded by regime agencies. The staff of the National Bureau of Standards (NBS) was valuable to the computer industry of the West Coast because many of those programmers accepted to move west and joined the aviation industry. To start with, in july 1950 UCLA consummated a computer for the regime’s National Bureau of Standards (NBS), code-designated Standards Western Automatic Computer (SWAC) and designed by Harry Huskey, who in 1947 had been a member of Turing’s ACE team, it contained 2,300 vacuum tubes. Northrop, instead, did not believe in electronic computers. In 1950 some of its engineers quit to compose Computer Research Corporation (CRC), which was later acquired by NCR in 1953. The rest of its computer lab was sold to Bendix, a maker of appliances and radios predicated in Indiana. In march 1956 Bendix introduced their first digital computer, the Bendix G-15, designed by Harry Huskey taking inspiration from Turing’s ACE. It took input from paper tape or punched cards and sent its output to a typewriter (about ten characters per second) or a pen plotter. It was much more minute than the monsters engendered by IBM and Univac, a premonition of the minicomputers to come. In 1957 some of the former Northrop engineers led by Max Palevsky quit Bendix and joined Packard Bell (a Los Angeles-predicated maker of consumer radios) to open their computer labs. Raytheon developed the code-denominated Hurricane (later Raydac) in 1953 for a Naval Air Missile Test Center, which was withal supposed to supersede the SWAC at the NBS. The Rand Corporation had been culled as one of the five sites for development of a computer designed by Von Neumann in 1946 at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Incipient Jersey (IAS) that was consummated in 1953 (a few months after the IAS machine became operational in june 1952). The IAS machine was the one that popularized the term “Von Neumann architecture” to refer to stored-program computers (in which computation is due to the interaction between a processor and a recollection, with the recollection storing both ordinant dictations and data). Finally, there were at least two spin-offs of the California Institute of Technology (CalTech): the Librascope division of General Precision (that built another “minuscule” computer); and the Electrodata division of Consolidated Electrodynamics Corporation (CEC), sold to Burroughs in 1956. The dynamics in Los Angeles was significantly different from the East Coast: engineers peregrinate from one company to another, and several of them commenced incipient companies. All of them were funded, directly or indirectly, by military projects.
An paramount decision was made by AT&T, the owner of the Bell Labs, to apportion the technology of the transistor with anyone who could amend it. Jack Morton organized a symposium to disseminate ken-how about semiconductors among scientists and engineers from all over the world. The first one, held in september 1951, categorically targeted bulwark contractors, but the second one, in april 1952, was open to everybody who had purchased the license for the transistor technology. Several electrical companies understood the long-term potential of transistors: Sylvania, a vacuum-tube company predicated in Massachusetts that had expanded during the World War II and that introduced one of the earliest transistors in 1949; Motorola, which opened its Semiconductor Division in Arizona in 1949; Texas Instruments, one of the companies that bought the license in 1952; and, of course, Western Electric itself, AT&T’s manufacturing arm, that opened a factory in Pennsylvania (at Laureldale) to make transistors and diodes exclusively for the regime. A “start-up” that understood the paramountcy of the invention was Transitron Electronics, founded in 1952 near Boston, to capitalize on Western Electric’s transistor license, by Leo and David Bakalar (the latter a graduate from the MIT who had worked at Bell Labs on transistors). In 1954 Gordon Teal’s team at Texas Instruments beat everybody at finding a frugal way to make transistors out of silicon.
The first applications of transistors had nothing to do with computers. Raytheon became the most astronomically immense manufacturer of transistors by selling transistors utilized in aurally perceiving avails. What made “transistor” a household denomination was the first portable radios: the Regency TR-1 (october 1954), which used Texas Instruments’ transistors, and the TR-52 (march 1955) by the Tokyo Telecommunications Company (later renamed Sony). By then the cost of a transistor had been reduced to $2.50 and the Regency (that contained four transistors) was sold for $50. The portable radio marked the birth of consumer electronics, a trend towards miniaturization and lower prices that would eventually bring ever more puissant appliances in every house and even every pocket. The first plenarily transistorized computer, the TRADIC (TRAnsistor Digital Computer), was built by AT&T’s Bell Labs for the Air Force in 1954, but AT&T was barred from commercial computer business. It was followed in 1955 by the TX-0, built at MIT and fundamentally a transistorized version of the Whirlwind. IBM did not introduce a transistorized stored-program computer until 1960, the 7070 (designated as a supersession for the 650).
The role of the regime in nurturing the nascent computer and semicondutor industries was consequential and probably crucial. In 1956 both IBM and AT&T settled antitrust suits by accepting to license their technologies to their own competitors. This was just one eminent example of how the stringest antitrust policies of that era contributed to the rapid diffusion of astute property throughout the computer and semiconductor industries; otherwise the barrier to ingress would have been too high for minuscule companies to compete with these giants.