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  • Jun 3, 1925
    (b.) -
    Jan 27, 2007
    (d.)

Bio/Description

A mathematical physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory for 35 years, he helped pioneer the development of computers for large-scale calculations and led the computer division at Los Alamos National Laboratory where he evolved the manual calculations of the Manhattan project into computerized numerical analysis. Trained in Physics, he eventually became an expert in computing for nuclear weapons research and development. In 1951, his first assignment was to estimate yields of atomic explosions using a method proposed by Hans Bethe and a primitive computer. He soon moved his calculations to a more powerful device - the first stored-memory computer, MANIAC, which was designed by Nick Metropolis and others. This computer, with less processing power than today's hand-held devices, filled an entire room. He recalled in a speech in 2002 that visitors were impressed by the caption on a glass box near MANIAC – "In case of emergency, break glass." Inside the box was an abacus. 1n 1954, he joined the MANIAC group as physicist-consultant in exchange for preferred time on the computer. Collaborating with Dave Woods, he developed computer code called HENRE that researchers built on for over 20 years. He and Mark Wells developed the first major model of a nuclear meltdown. He worked with IBM on the development of Stretch, the first solid-state computer. In 1968, he was selected to found the Computing Division at Los Alamos and served for several years as its first director. He retired in 1986. Originally from New York City, he entered Harvard in 1942, served in the Pacific theater in World War II, and returned to Harvard to complete his studies, receiving his Doctorate in Theoretical Physics in 1951.
  • Date of Birth:

    Jun 3, 1925
  • Date of Death:

    Jan 27, 2007
  • Noted For:

    Developed the manual calculations of the Manhattan project into computerized numerical analysis
  • Category of Achievement:

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