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  • Feb 22, 1910
    (b.) -
    Dec 9, 1967
    (d.)

Bio/Description

An American computer scientist, he was an engineer in the laboratory of the Simplex Wire and Cable Company. He also worked as a physicist in the development of electronic instruments for the U.S. Navy and was a Senior Project Engineer at the Bendix Aviation Corporation. Born in Wharton, Texas; he studied at the University of Oklahoma receiving his Bachelor's degree in 1931, and his Master’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1933. In 1946 he joined the data processing Department of the National Bureau of Standards, where he was Director of the Electronic Computer Laboratory until 1954. He then became head of Data Processing Systems Division until 1964; and head of the Information Technology Division until his death in 1967. While at the National Bureau of Standards (NBS) in Washington, D.C., he developed the SEAC computer (Standards Eastern Automatic Computer). The SEAC was the first fully functional electronic computer with an internal program memory (stored program) in the United States. It was also the first computer with pure solid state logic (first 10500, then 16000 germanium diodes), next to the 747 and later 1600 vacuum tubes. First, it was named National Bureau of Standards Interim Computer. It was one of the many mainframes developed in universities, laboratories and government organizations at that time. The computer was operated for 14 years and originally intended for training purposes by government agencies. The designs were intended only as an interim measure, until the industry could provide better computers, i.e., the UNIVAC (he was also involved in its design with Ralph j. Slutz, the main architect). He wrote specifications for and supervised the procurement of the UNIVAC computer. He was also the designer of the DYSEAC NBS in 1954, a successor of the SEAC, which was built for the U.S. Signal Corps, (it could be transported in a truck, i.e. for mobile war). In addition, he was a government consultant in the United States as well as in Sweden in 1956 and 1957 in India. He died in Chevy Chase, Maryland in 1967, the year he received the Harry H. Goode Memorial Award. In 1981 he was posthumously awarded the Computer Pioneer Award of the IEEE Computer Society. He was a member of the Washington Academy of Sciences. The Samuel N. Alexander Doctoral Fellowship is named for him and is awarded annually to a deserving student in order to assist and promote doctoral research in the utilization and development of computers and computer science.
  • Date of Birth:

    Feb 22, 1910
  • Date of Death:

    Dec 9, 1967
  • Noted For:

    Developer of the SEAC computer, the first fully functional electronic computer with an internal program memory (stored program) in the United States
  • Category of Achievement:

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