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Encyclopedia > First Draft of a Report on the EDVAC

The First Draft of a Report on the EDVAC (or First Draft) was an incomplete 101-page document written by John von Neumann and distributed on June 30, 1945 by Herman Goldstine, security officer on the classified ENIAC project. It contains the first published description of the logical design of a computer using the stored-program concept, which has come to be known as the von Neumann architecture. The EDVAC as installed in Building 328 at the Ballistics Research Laboratory. ... An unfinished portrait miniature of Oliver Cromwell by Samuel Cooper. ... John von Neumann in the 1940s. ... June 30 is the 181st day of the year (182nd in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar, with 184 days remaining. ... 1945 (MCMVL) was a common year starting on Monday (the link is to a full 1945 calendar). ... Herman Heine Goldstine (September 13, 1913 – June 16, 2004) was one of the original developers of ENIAC. He worked closely with John von Neumann. ... ENIAC ENIAC, short for Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer[1], was the first large-scale, electronic, digital computer capable of being reprogrammed to solve a full range of computing problems[2], although earlier computers had been built with some of these properties. ... Design of the Von Neumann machine A von Neumann architecture is a computer design model that uses a single storage structure to hold both instructions and data. ...

The title page of the report reads:

First Draft of a Report on the EDVAC
by John von Neumann,
Contract No. W-670-ORD-4926,
Between the United States Army Ordnance Department
and the University of Pennsylvania Moore School of Electrical Engineering
University of Pennsylvania
June 30, 1945

Von Neumann wrote the report by hand while commuting by train to Los Alamos, New Mexico and mailed the handwritten notes back to Philadelphia. Goldstine had the report typed and duplicated. While the date on the typed report is June 30, 24 copies of the First Draft were distributed to persons closely connected with the EDVAC project five days earlier on June 25. Interest in the report caused it to be sent all over the world; Maurice Wilkes of Cambridge University cited his excitement over the report's content as the impetus for his decision to travel to the United States for the Moore School Lectures in Summer 1946. Los Alamos is an unincorporated townsite in Los Alamos County, New Mexico. ... Philadelphia is a village located in Jefferson County, New York. ... June 25 is the 176th day of the year (177th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar, with 189 days remaining. ... Maurice V. Wilkes Maurice Vincent Wilkes (born June 26, 1913 in Dudley, Staffordshire, England) is a British computer scientist, credited with several important developments in computing. ... The University of Cambridge is the second-oldest university in the English-speaking world, with one of the most selective sets of entry requirements in the United Kingdom. ...

The treament of the preliminary report as a publication (in the legal sense) was the source of bitter acrimony between factions of the EDVAC design team for two reasons. First, publication amounted to a public disclosure that prevented the EDVAC from being patented; second, some on the EDVAC design team contended that the stored-program concept had evolved out of meetings at the University of Pennsylvania's Moore School of Electrical Engineering predating von Neumann's activity as a consultant there, and that much of the work represented in the First Draft was no more than a translation of the discussed concepts into the language of formal logic in which von Neumann was fluent, hence, failure of von Neumann and Goldstine to list others as authors on the First Draft led credit to be attributed to von Neumann alone. (See Matthew effect.) The EDVAC as installed in Building 328 at the Ballistics Research Laboratory. ... The University of Pennsylvania (Penn is the moniker used by the university itself [2]) is a private, nonsectarian research university located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. ... The Moore School of Electrical Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania came into existence as a result of an endowment from Alfred Fitler Moore on June 4th, 1923. ... Logic, from Classical Greek λόγος (logos), originally meaning the word, or what is spoken, (but coming to mean thought or reason) is most often said to be the study of criteria for the evaluation of arguments, although the exact definition of logic is a matter of controversy among philosophers. ... The Matthew effect alludes to a line spoken by the Master in Jesuss parable of the talents in the Christian Bible: For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he...

External link

  • First Draft of a report on the EDVAC (PDF)


  • Goldstine, Herman H. (1972). The Computer: from Pascal to von Neumann. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-02367-0.



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