MOORE SCHOOL LECTURES.
Theory and Techniques for Design of Electronic Digital Computers, Lectures Given at the Moore School 8 July 1946-31 August 1946. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, Moore School of Engineering, September 10 and November 1, 1947; June 30, 1948.
Volumes 1-3 (only, of 4). 4to. Mimeographed. Photographic plates and other figures. Original wrappers. Backstrips fraying, coating abraded on left edge of front cover of vol 3 and in a few other spots; overall excellent.
Provenance: War Department of Philadelphia (accession stamps dated 1949 to vols 2 and 3); Lawrence Freedman (rubberstamp to f.f.e. of vol 1).
VERY RARE SET OF THE FIRST EDITION MOORE SCHOOL LECTURES, 1-33, REPRESENTING "ONE OF THE FUNDAMENTAL TURNING POINTS IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF COMPUTERS" (Williams A History of Computer Technology, 1985, p 349). The landmark special course at the University of Pennsylvania's Moore School of Engineering was given in July and August of 1946. The distinguished "faculty" included Howard Aiken of Harvard, Arthur Burks of the Moore School, Douglas Hartree of Cambridge, George Stibitz of Bell Labs and John von Neumann, although the majority of the lectures were given by J. Presper Eckert, John Mauchly and Herman Goldstine, the principal developers of ENIAC. The hand-picked "students" included Jay Forrester of MIT, Cuthbert Hurd of IBM, Claude Shannon of Bell Labs and Maurice Wilkes of Cambridge. The lectures disseminated the technology acquired through the development of ENIAC to a broader audience, catalyzing the development of modern computers. For example, the course led Hurd to convince IBM to build the model 701; influenced the change of Forrester's Project Whirlwind from analog to digital technology; affected computer development at the National Bureau of Standards; and inspired Wilkes to undertake development of the EDSACthe first stored-program digital computer to operate successfully.
The Lectures were reprinted in 1985 as part of the Babbage series for the History of Computing with a valuable introduction by Campbell-Kelly and White explicating their history: "The printed dissemination of the course material was considered highly important at a time when almost nothing on the subject existed," and funding was obtained for this express purpose. However, there were delays in the publication resulting from the absence of contemporaneous handouts or transcripts and the difficulty of getting the faculty to edit or provide notes. Many of the printed lectures "have a rambling conversational tone"; these are "a remarkably precise record of what was said in the lectures more in the tradition of transcripts of court hearings than in that of formal conference proceedings." While unbound mimeographed copies of some individual lectures were distributed to some participants for review or as a courtesy before this publication, the present is "the original edition of the Moore School Lectures" and "rare." "Only the original participants received copies, and a few copies found their way into university and technical libraries." A copy of the 1985 edition is included with the lot; see also Origins of Cyberspace 799 for a description of lecture 19. We find no copies of any volumes in the auction records.