17 June 2008
VON NEUMANN, John, Arthur W. BURKS and Herman H. GOLDSTINE. Preliminary discussion of the logical design of an electronic computing instrument. [Princeton, N.J.: Institute for Advanced Study,] 1947.
4o. Reproduced typescript. Original buff printed wrappers (chips and losses along spine); cloth folding case.
Second edition. A few months after the ENIAC had its first public demonstration (in February 1946), the three chief members of the IAS Electronic Computer Project issued their Preliminary Discussion of the Logical Design of an Electronic Computing Instrument, a report to the Army Ordnance Department that represents the first published formal conceptual paper on the stored-program computer, if we call von Neumann's informal First Draft a privately circulated working paper.
The first edition of the Preliminary Report appeared in June 1946; a revised second edition, containing an expanded account of the arithmetic processes and a report of further experimental work, was issued in September 1947. This was followed by the three-part Planning and Coding of Problems for an Electronic Computing Instrument, written by von Neumann and Goldstine with contributions by Burks, who by this time had left the IAS project to take a professorship at the University of Michigan. The three parts of Planning and Coding represent THE FIRST MAJOR ACCOUNT OF COMPUTER-PROGRAMMING METHODOLOGY FOR A STORED-PROGRAM COMPUTER even though none was operational when the report was written. It was the only such work available until the private distribution in 1950 and publication in 1951 of Wilkes, Wheeler, and Gill's Preparation of Programs for an Electronic Digital Computer. RLIN lists only 2 copies of this very scarce preliminary report. From Gutenberg to the Internet 8.3, 9.2. Origins of Cyberspace 959.
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