Hartree, Douglas R.

Calculating Machines: Recent & Prospective Developments.

  • First edition, first impression and a lovely copy of "the first booklet on electronic computers separately published by a conventional publisher, and also one of the earliest discussions of how these machines could be used in scientific calculations" (Origins of Cyberspace 649).

    In addition to his significant contributions to ballistics and quantum theory, British mathematician Douglas Hartree (1897-1958) was also a leader in efforts to automate scientific calculations. He was "involved in the development of the digital electronic computer, which emerged from wartime attempts to automate calculation further... In 1946 Hartree's advice was sought in the application of the United States army's ENIAC (electronic numerical integrator and computer) to the production of ballistic tables" (ODNB). This booklet was based on his experience with ENIAC, and describes in detail the machine's operation, its memory capacity, how problems are encoded for it to process, and what types of mathematical questions it is currently addressing. It also offers hints of future applications, such as research in fluid dynamics, statistics, number theory, and economics, where the burden of manual calculation was previously too great to allow in-depth analysis.

  • Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1947. Octavo. Original cream wrappers printed in brown. 2 plates from photographs, equations and charts within the text. Near-contemporary ownership inscription to the title. Wrappers a little toned, a couple of tiny dents to the upper wrapper. A fresh and attractive copy in excellent condition.

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