Coal Fired Computers, Hans Meijer, Steam Engine, Out of the Ground, STUK, Artefact, Leuven, Belgium

bnr#17 => Coal Fired Computers, Hans Meijer, Steam Engine, Out of the Ground, STUK, Artefact, Leuven, Belgium

Project MAC – Time Sharing Computer

Object: 44
Date of origin: circa 1930
Author/inventor/context: Christopher Strachey, John McCarthy
In 1961 Project MAC turned a batch-processing IBM 709 into a time-sharing computer. This is a technique where a single machine procedurally serves many people and processes. It reinvented the relationship between user and computer, turning batch-processing machines into a communications medium for the first time. Robert Fano, director at the time, said this technique could create an intellectual assistant for everyone and envisioned large computing stations, like those that generate electricity holding vast libraries of shared code. Computing would become a utility like electricity, water, gas, flowing into every home and workplace, forming the glue that sticks us together in the 21st Century.

Graham Harwood