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Alan Turing's Automatic Computing Engine: The Master Codebreaker's Struggle to build the Modern Computer

Popular Science

Edited By: B Jack Copeland

592 pages, 30 b/w photos, 155 b/w illustrations

Oxford University Press

Paperback | May 2012 | #194818 | ISBN-13: 9780199609154
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £14.99 $18/€17 approx
Hardback | Apr 2005 | #194819 | ISBN: 0198565933
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About this book

The mathematical genius Alan Turing, now well known for his crucial wartime role in breaking the ENIGMA code, was the first to conceive of the fundamental principle of the modern computer-the idea of controlling a computing machine's operations by means of a program of coded instructions, stored in the machine's 'memory'. In 1945 Turing drew up his revolutionary design for an electronic computing machine-his Automatic Computing Engine ('ACE'). A pilot model of the ACE ran its first program in 1950 and the production version, the 'DEUCE', went on to become a cornerstone of the fledgling British computer industry. The first 'personal' computer was based on Turing's ACE.

Alan Turing's Automatic Computing Engine describes Turing's struggle to build the modern computer. The first detailed history of Turing's contributions to computer science, this text is essential reading for anyone interested in the history of the computer and the history of mathematics. It contains first hand accounts by Turing and by the pioneers of computing who worked with him. As well as relating the story of the invention of the computer, the book clearly describes the hardware and software of the ACE-including the very first computer programs. The book is intended to be accessible to everyone with an interest in computing, and contains numerous diagrams and illustrations as well as original photographs.

The book contains chapters describing Turing's path-breaking research in the fields of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Artificial Life (A-Life). The book has an extensive system of hyperlinks to The Turing Archive for the History of Computing, an on-line library of digital facsimiles of typewritten documents by Turing and the other scientists who pioneered the electronic computer.


Donald W. Davies: Foreword
B. Jack Copeland: Introduction to the Centenary Edition

Part I: The National Physical Laboratory and the ACE Project
Eileen Magnello: A Century of Measurement and Computation at the National Physical Laboratory, 1900-2000
Mary Croarken: The Creation of the NPL Mathematics Division
B. Jack Copeland: The Origins and Development of the ACE Project
James H. Wilkinson: The Pilot ACE at the National Physical Laboratory

Part II: Turing and the History of Computing
Martin Campbell-Kelly: The ACE and the Shaping of British Computing
Robert Doran: Computer Architecture and the ACE Computers
B. Jack Copeland and Diane Proudfoot: Turing and the Computer
Teresa Numerico: From Turing Machine to "Electronic Brain"

Part III: The ACE Computers
Henry John Norton: The Pilot ACE Instruction Format
J.G. Hayes: Programming the Pilot ACE
Robin A. Vowels: The Pilot ACE: from Concept to Reality
Robin A. Vowels: The DEUCE-a User's View
Tom Vickers: Applications of the Pilot ACE and the DEUCE
Harry D. Huskey: The ACE Test Assembly, the Pilot ACE, the Big ACE, and the Bendix G15
Michael Woodger: The ACE Simulator and the Cybernetic Model
Benjamin Wells: The Pilot Model and the Big ACE on the Web

Part IV: Electronics
David O. Clayden: How Valves Work
Maurice Wilkes: Recollections of Early Vacuum Tube Circuits
David O. Clayden: Circuit Design of the Pilot ACE and the Big ACE

Part V: Technical Reports and Lectures on the ACE and the Pilot ACE, 1945-1951
Alan M. Turing: Proposed Electronic Calculator (1945)
Alan M. Turing: Notes on Memory (1945)
Alan M. Turing and James H. Wilkinson: The Turing-Wilkinson Lecture Series (1946-1947)
Harry D. Huskey: The State of the Art in Electronic Digital Computing in Britain and the United States (1947)

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Jack Copeland is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, where he is Director of the Turing Archive for the History of Computing. His books include "The Essential Turing", "Colossus: The Secrets of Bletchley Park's Codebreaking Computers", "Alan Turing's Automatic Computing Engine", "Logic and Reality: Essays on the Legacy of Arthur Prior" (all with Oxford University Press), and he has published more than 100 articles on the philosophy and history of computing, and mathematical and philosophical logic.

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