Early and Rare Digital Computer Newsletter
SMITH, Albert. Digital Computer Newsletter. Washington, D.C.: Office of Naval Research, Mathematical Sciences Division , 1949.
Complete run of this early and rare computing and hardware newsletter. Forty-eight issues total: complete run from volume 1, number 1 to volume 13, number 3; plus volume 14, no 3; a duplicate volume 13, numbers 1/2; and volume 1, number 1 present in 2 formats. Quarto. Stapled and hole-punched newsletters, from 4 to 50 pages each. [Together with]: Mimeographed draft of April 1949 issue included cover circular. The first issue is present here both in mimeographed draft with a circular letter by the first editor, Albert Smith, and as a regularly published newsletter. The first is time-stamped May 2, 1949 and the latter July 18, 1949. We could find no other complete run sold at auction. This copy sold at Bonhams New York in 2014.

Each newsletter is stale-bound and hole-punched along the left margin. All newsletters housed in white plastic 3-ring binders, with each newsletter slipped in a plastic binder sleave. Overall excellent condition, mimeographed issue with a little wear.

This newsletter predates by almost 5 years the first issue of the Journal of the ACM (Association for Computing Machinery).

Provenance: Office of Naval Research, Chicago (accession time-stamps, some correspondence included); The Computer History Collection of Serge Roubé.

“Following World War II, the Office of Naval Research played a vital role in the development of high-speed digital computing. ‘ONR was the first to commit itself to the support of a wide range of basic research efforts, including several computer projects’ (Stern From ENIAC to UNIVAC p 99). ONR funded Project Whirlwind at MIT, the Mark III at Harvard, and the IAS Computer at Princeton, as well as research in numerical analysis and Grace Hopper's work on automatic programming. Part of its mission was to disseminate information about the advances being made, which led to its support of conferences and seminars—beginning with the Moore School Lectures in 1946—and the publication of the present journal. In the spring of 1949, Albert E. Smith of the ONR's ‘Computer Branch’ circulated a draft Digital Computer Newsletter (included), stating that its purpose was "to provide a medium for the interchange, among interested persons, of information concerning recent developments in various digital computer projects." Smith added that, "If it is thought to be of sufficient interest, similar letters will be prepared at regular intervals." Publication of the Newsletter continued into the 1960s, and during its early years it was the only available source for the information it provided. Articles in the Newsletter were short, often a paragraph or two, and informal – almost chatty. The first issue, in April 1949, covered 10 American systems in just 4 pages. Among other things, it discussed the installation of two 'new panels' on the ENIAC and the resulting benefits; testing and current operating efficiency of the EDVAC; the ongoing construction of the IAS Computer at Princeton; the development schedule for the Navy's Mark III; and the status and plans for the Whirlwind I. By October 1953, vol 5, no 4, the Newsletter had grown to 18 pages and covered 24 computers, including JOHNNIAC, ILLIAC, RAYDAC, MIDAC, ORACLE and OARAC. It also reported on data processing and conversion equipment, computing services, computer courses and notices. Among the computer reports were details about the logistics of the move of the IAS Computer to its 'permanent location in the computer building at the Institute,' and news that the EDVAC had 'broken all previous records of available weekly machine time for BRL machines' at 159.9 hours. Not in Origins of Cyberspace.” (Bonhams).

HBS # 68466 $7,500