Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Computation Center records
Scope and Contents of the Collection
The records of the Computation Center provide detailed and comprehensive documentation of the early use of high-speed digital computing by faculty and students at MIT. The collection contains two distinct sets of materials: records from the Committee on Machine Methods of Computation which outline the need for a central computing facility (1950-1956), and the early administrative records of the Computation Center itself (1957-1962). The first set of records from the Committee on Machine Methods of Computation contains proposals for IBM computers and funding and documents the rapidly growing need for such a program. The other group of records reveals details of daily administrative tasks, including staffing, experiments, allotting time, the relationship of the center to other similar programs, to educational institutions in New England, and to IBM and other sponsors.
Research records relating to the Compatible Time-Sharing System (CTSS), which was first demonstrated at the Computation Center in 1961, and other research of Professor Fernando Corbató can be found in his personal papers, MIT collection MC 371.
- 1950 - 1962
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Computation Center (Organization)
Intellectual Property Rights
President James Killian, in his 1956 annual report, described the facilities being built to house the new Computation Center. In 1957 the Computation Center was formally dedicated at MIT with Philip Morse as director, a position he would hold for the next ten years. The construction of the Karl Taylor Compton Laboratories (MIT building 26), which housed the new center, was funded in part by IBM, which also paid for the Computation Center’s equipment and support staff; IBM also donated the machine initially installed in the center, an IBM 704 computer. Part of IBM’s agreement with MIT under which they provided funding for the project allowed other New England schools, as well as IBM researchers, to share the use of the facility free of charge. This arrangement eventually became NERComp – the New England Regional Computing Program. Project funding also came from the National Science Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation as well as from charging computer time to internal department accounts.
IBM was petitioned on several occasions to provide the center with newer faster computers. The Computation Center received an IBM 709 to replace the initial 704 model in 1960. This was followed in 1962 by the installation of an IBM 7090, and finally in 1966 IBM System/360 Model 65 was donated to MIT.
An early version of the Compatible Time Sharing System (CTSS) devised by Professor Fernando Corbató to maximize the use of available computing time was demonstrated in November 1961 at the Computation Center. After ten years MIT reorganized its computer services, and in 1967 the Computation Center transitioned into a central Office of Information Processing Services. Richard G. Mills, formerly the assistant director of Project MAC, was appointed to a new post as Director of Information Processing Services to coordinate all computer facilities at MIT.
Phillip M. Morse, Computation Center Director, 1957-1967; Frank M. Verzuh, Computation Center Assistant Director, 1956-1960; Fernando J. Corbató, Computation Center Associate Director, 1960-1966.
1.6 Cubic Feet (1 record carton, 2 manuscript boxes)
Language of Materials
Source of Acquisition
- Computers -- History. Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Corbató, F. J.
- Electronic digital computers -- History. Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- IBM 704 (Computer) Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- IBM Corporation
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology -- History Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Committee on Machine Methods of Computation
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Computation Center
- Morse, Philip McCord
- Project Whirlwind. Subject Source: Local sources
- Verzuh, Frank M.
- Whirlwind computer. Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Guide to the Records of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Computation Center
- Emily Tordo
- (Copyright 2009)
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script
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