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Elvis Chidera

Computers Then and Now — Paper Summary

summary, paper1 min read

Author: Maurice Wilkes Date: 1967 Link: PDF


  1. It took much longer than people had expected for the first of the more ambitious and fully engineered computers to be completed and prove themselves in practical operation. In retrospect, the period seems a short one; at the time, it was a period of much heart-searching and even recrimination.
  2. Von Neuman appreciated the stored program principle — an idea that was at the time revolutionary for some — there were claims that mixing instructions and numbers in the same memory was going against nature.
  3. I believe that in twenty years people will look back on the period in which we are now living as one in which the principles underlying the design of programming languages were just beginning to be understood. I am sorry when I hear well-meaning people suggest that the time has come to standardize on one or two languages. We need temporary standards, it is true, to guide us on our way, but we must not expect to reach stability for some time yet.

  4. Animals and machines are constructed from entirely different materials and bn quite different principles. When engineers have tried to draw inspiration from a study of the way animals work they have usually been misled; the history of early attempts to construct flying machines with flapping wings illustrates this very clearly.

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