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It seeks to be an interface between disciplines, and between academics and broader audiences. Editors: Jeffrey R. Yost and Amanda Wick. Johannah Rodgers. PDF version available for download. What We Know. Unlike the terms bits and bytes, the computer word, which is defined by the IEEE as "a unit of storage, typically a set of bits, that is suitable for processing by a given computer," Illustration 1 has not yet become part of popular discourse.
Instead the term remains a technical one, familiar to every computer scientist and technician but not to the average consumer. Also unlike the terms bits and bytes, the origins of which have become part of the print record bits is said to date from a January 9, Bell Labs memo drafted by John W. Tukey and byte from a June 11, IBM memo drafted by Werner Bucholz Troppthose surrounding the computer word have not been well documented in either the histories of computings or fields related to it, including writing and media studies. Delving into the histories of computings archive, it is possible to identify a narrow time frame in which the term begins its emergence, sometime between late springwhen John von Neumann drafts his notes that will later be referred to as the "First Draft of the EDVAC Report" and September,when J.
Presper Eckert, John Mauchly, et al. Rather, it is collaboratively authored, recursive in its structure, and has implications that, I believe, are only beginning to be fully explored. It is one part of the process that enables hardware and the instructions controlling it to communicate and "understand" one another.
Technically, choosing a computer word's "word size" is one of the earliest steps in chip de and, metaphorically, the computer word can be said to function as a word does in "telementational models" Harris of human to human communication: it allows for information to be transmitted and exchanged according to a "standard" meaning.
While, in human communication, verbal words, i. Figuratively, if bits can be said to be the millimeters of digital electronic computers and bytes the centimeters, the computer word can be said to function as the meter. Despite Women want nsa Headrick technical ificance of the computer word to the historic and current functions of digital electronic computers, documenting its histories is, for several reasons, anything but straightforward, in part because of the complexities of the EDVAC project itself, in part because of Women want nsa Headrick later depictions of the EDVAC project in relation to projects predating it, and in part because of issues related to the histories of computings archives.
As a result, it is one that continues to provide scholars with a wealth of material and issues technical, economic, political, and socio-cultural to consider in relation to other electronic and electro-mechanical computing projects in the United States. The EDVAC project was, as Michael Williams has clearly documented, a fraught one and produced a machine that may actually have only been operational for a very short time and differed considerably from initial de documents. Further, recent research related to the ENIAC project by Haigh, Priestley and others, has emphasized the similarities rather than the differences between the ENIAC and EDVAC projects and called into question the portrayal of the "Von Neumann" architecture as the invention of von Neumann or a clear departure from the architectures of earlier "computing" projects in the U.
The availability, accessibility, and reliability of documentary archival materials also all play roles in how the hi stories of the computer word can be told. Just to point to two selected examples related to my research for this project, the digital copy of Eckert and Mauchly's "Automatic High Speed Computing" report available in the archive of the Museum of the History of Computing is an excerpt of the complete report.
While this particular copy is valuable to researchers since it is from the archive of Donald Knuth and contains his notes, at present, no complete digital copy of the report exists that is publicly accessible. It was, in fact, only through the very generous support and assistance of the University of Pennsylvania Libraries Special Collections that I was able to remotely access a digitized copy.
The existence of as yet uncatalogued materials raises other issues unique to the histories of computings archives. As a result of his ongoing research involving the Goldstine papers at the American Philosophical Association archive, Mark Priestly has drawn attention to manuscripts and unpublished lecture notes with ificant implications for how not only specific terms, including the computer word, are interpreted but to other topics, such as how Turing's work may have been used by von Neumann. While the paper trail documenting this term "computer word" will be for some time still unfolding, what we do have currently are paper traces documenting its evolution from a term with several different functions as Women want nsa Headrick rhetorical device to a technical term and finally to a technical standard.
Attributed to von Neumann in a footnote Illustration 3the term "word" without quotation marks! What We Are Still Learning. These findings reveal some useful insights into both Women want nsa Headrick we know and to what we are still in the process of learning about the histories of computings and the roles of verbal language, linguistics, and language education in them. As Nofre, et al. The introduction of the term "word" to describe the operations of the EDVAC architecture appears to be one part of the discursive and technical transformation of high speed automatic calculators to general purpose digital electronic computers and to language processing if not yet language possessing machines.
The ENIAC was a decimal-based calculator and required ificant input from skilled human operators in order to function. Both issues are noteworthy because part of the story of this metaphor of the word has to do with its emergence at the same time that there is a moving away from human to machine readable writing systems decimal to binary and communication and storage media wires to pulses; cards, paper, and human brains to short and long tanks and mercury delay lines.
These paper traces from the s also underscore the collaborative environment in which military funded research projects were being developed and documented in the U. While I am not suggesting with this term "collaborative" that in such an environment everyone was acting communally or even getting along while they worked together, I am Women want nsa Headrick that fluidity and responsive improvisation are evident both in the discourse and the technical systems being described.
What this means to documenting the genealogy of the computer word is that if the neologism is to be attributed to von Neumann, it would be necessary to put quotation marks around the terms "computer word" and "von Neumann" to indicate that both are names applied retroactively to fix the meanings of phenomena that were still emergent when placed in their specific historical contexts. Neither the "computer word" nor what is now still frequently referred to as the "Von Neumann Architecture" emerges fully formed as a concept or technical standard in when von Neumann drafted his notes for the EDVAC project in Los Alamos, New Mexico, referred to the unit that will be used to communicate data and instructions in the EDVAC project as a "code word," and handed his notes to one or more secretaries to type up and possibly reproduce and circulate Williams.
Paul Ceruzzi's recent article in this journal about the myths of immateriality surrounding the natural resource intensive reality of "cloud"-based computing is one example of the power of names to shape discourse and its receptions Ceruzzi. Another example relates to the complexities involved in attempts by Tropp to depict the emergence of the term "bit" as a story with a single author.
As the multilayered documentation presented in Tropp's article makes clear, there were many contributors to the creation of the neologism bit, which become metaphorically and technically imbricated in human discourse and the engineering projects they inform and describe. The term "bit," which was originally named an "alternative" by Shannon, was deemed at one point a "bigit," and, while, Tukey's memo may have been the first document we currently have access to in which the term appears, even a cursory reading of it reveals that drawing from it the conclusion that Tukey "coined" the term is far from certain Tropp.
What's In a Word? Afterthe "ifying operations" Rodgers of terms related to and involving language as applied to digital electronic computers continue to widen in the technical, industrial, and popular literature Nofre, Martin. Part of my interest in this relates to the fact that what we now call the early history of digital electronic computing, calculating machines are constructed based on models of the human, which are then explained via metaphors to influence decisions being made regarding the funding of educational and work initiatives for human computers and electronic computers based on the costs and interchangeability of the two Grier.
In this context, the date and location of the drafting of the EDVAC Notes and later report are both ificant considering their purpose and later reception, as are the later technical decisions that placed the affordances and performance standards of machinic operability over those of human legibility in the EDVAC project Illustration 4.
Yet, it is in part through verbal logic and the deployment of rhetoric that decisions were made regarding whose and what logics and languages would become "hard wired" into digital electronic computing machines. Somewhat ironically, though, perhaps, inevitably, it is with issues of representation and the roles of spoken and inscribed language in depicting and constructing realities and histories that the intrigue involved with interpreting relationships between alphabetic words and computer words really begins.
While it is impossible to know the exact reasons for a specific word choice, it is possible to consider the rhetorical contexts in which the EDVAC report was written. The term "word" functioned both to al what was new about the project while also performing some explanatory work to an audience deciding the fate of the EDVAC funding proposals. Yet the target domain of this metaphor is human language processing, which it is pd, rather than proved, that the proposed technical system will replicate Harris.
In giving the EDVAC calculating machine the ability to "instruct" itself with the metaphor of the word, binary arithmetic calculation is paired with alphabetic communication in a way that has implications for the processes involved with both and based on assumptions about how language functions, what the purposes of communication are, and for the benefit of specific parties and interests Dick. From a writing studies perspective, the word choice of the "code word" and "word" connect the mids with the instrumentalization of writing and human writing subjects that had been occurring throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries Gitelman, Rodgers and to early discussions of "AI" and the roles and histories of writing, logic, and language education policies embedded in them Kay, De Mol, Heyck.
I am grateful to Joseph Tabbi, Cara Murray, and Robert Landon for their comments and suggestions related to earlier drafts of this article. Thank you also to Jeffrey Yost for his insightful suggestions, and to Amanda Wick and Melissa Dargay for their work and contributions. Finally, a special thanks to John H. Alt, Franz. July Burks, Arthur W. Goldstine, and John von Neumann.
Institute for Advanced Study. Campbell-Kelly, M. MIT P. Ceruzzi, Paul E. De Mol, Liesbeth and Giuseppe Primiero. Dick, Stephanie. April—June Eckert, J. Campbell-Kelly and M. Williams, MIT P. September 30, Gitelman, Lisa. Stanford UP. Heyck, Hunter. Harris, Roy. The Language Machine.
January-March Haigh, Thomas and Mark Priestley. January Hopper, Women want nsa Headrick M. ACM Press, pp. Kay, Lily. McCulloch's Project in Neuroscience. Martin, C. April Priestley, Mark. Department of Defense. Rodgers, Johannah. Starr, M. Dercum, Lea Brothers. Stibitz, George R. Tropp, Henry S. Annals of the History of Computingvol. June 30, Moore School of. Electrical Engineering, University of Pennsylvania. Williams, Michael R. Johannah Rodgers September About the author:. Johannah Rodgers is a writer, artist, and educator whose work engages creatively and critically with the histories and presents of print and digital technologies to explore their connections and their roles in the sociologies and economics of literacies in the U.
You can about her projects and publications at www. Buckley Sheffield. Abstract: In this article we describe the trials and tribulations in the early stages to introduce cashless retail payments in the USA. We compare efforts by financial service firms and retailers.
We conclude with a brief reflection on the lessons these historical developments offer to the future of digital payments. This was a time when high economic growth in the USA that followed the end of World War II was coming to an end, replaced by economic crisis and high inflation. A time when the suburbs — to which Americans had increasingly flocked after escaping city centres — were starting to change. Opportunities for greater mobility were offered by automobiles, commercial airlines, buses, and the extant railway infrastructure.
This was the period that witnessed the dawn of the digital era in the United States, as information and communication technologies began to emerge and grow. The potential of digitalisation provided the context in which an evocative idea, the idea of a cashless society first began to emerge. Here it is worth noting that, although there is some disagreement as to the exact figure, the volume of paper checks cleared within the U. This spectacular rise in check volume, with no corresponding increase in the value of deposits, placed a severe strain on the U.
The Women want nsa Headrick of the cashless, checkless society became popularised in the press on both sides of the Atlantic in the late s and early s. Very soon the idea grew to include paper money. But at the same time, regulation curtailed diversification of products and geography limiting the service banks could provide their customers.
Like the banking and financial industry, the retail industry, with its very real interest in point of sale digitalization, was exposed to the rise of digital technology in the last quarter of the 20 th Century. Once it arrived, however, the adoption of a range of digital technologies including Point of Sale POS related innovations such as optical scanning, and the universal product code UPCwere extensive and transformed the industry Cortada, From the perspective of historical investigation, the chronological place of such innovation, beginning in the mids, is associated with a remarkable period of rapid technological change in Women want nsa Headrick.
What connects the transformative technological changes that occurred in both the banking industry and the retail industry during this period, is that both sought to utilise Electronic Funds Transfer Systems, or EFTS, a way to reduce frictions for retail payments at the point of sale. During the s and s, the term EFTS was used in a of ways. Somewhat confusingly, it was applied indistinctively to specific devices or ensembles, value exchange networks, and what today we denominate as infrastructures and platforms.
While referring to it as a systems technology for payments it was defined as one:. Indeed, in contrast to developments in Europe, some lawmakers in Congress considered the idea of sharing infrastructure by banks as a competitive anathema Sprague, Large retailers such as Sears had a national presence and were able to consider implementing their own solution to the infrastructure problem. Small banks looked at proposals by the likes of Citibank with scepticism while they feared it may pivot the dominance of large banks.Women want nsa Headrick
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