Photo: , Click to magnify
||John Lentz, hired into IBM
Watson Scientific Computing Laboratory at Columbia
University by Wallace
Eckert from the MIT Radiation Lab in 1945 (along with
Byron Havens and Robert M. Walker) on the advice of
Rabi, was the father of the early IBM small scientific computers, best
known for designing the first "personal computer", the
IBM 610, 1948-56. During his Watson Lab tenure
(1946-69) he also attended the first ACM meeting
(held on the Columbia campus in 1947) and served on Columbia's Electrical
Engineering faculty, teaching EE 287 (Digital Computers I: System Analysis)
and EE 298 (Digital Computers III: Computer Programming). His work at
Columbia led some years later to the IBM 1620 and
its progeny. While at Watson Lab, Lentz also designed and built
electromechanical and computer-interface automation features for the
Star Measuring and Recording Machine, used on
astronomical photographs (References below).
Peter Capek of IBM points out that John Lentz is also the inventor of the
cursor (as on a video display or computer screen); his patent on it was
granted in 1973 or -74, even though he applied for it for many years
earlier, while at Watson Lab, perhaps in connection with the
small CRT on the 610 or perhaps the Star Measuring Machine.
According to Columbia University records, Lentz taught engineering in the School of General Studies from 1955
to 1958. He was officially appointed Adjunct Assistant Professor of
Electrical Engineering on May 28, 1956. I believe he took 1960-62 off to
earn his Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins University, though I am not sure whether
he actually received it. When Watson Lab left Columbia, Lentz went with it
and worked at IBM until he retired, where Peter Capek says one of the areas
he worked on was programming and perhaps protocol design for JNI job
networking, perhaps for JES2 (HASP).
References and Publications:
- Lentz, John, "A New Approach to Small-Computer Programming and Control",
IBM Journal of Research and Development,
Vol.2, No.1, p.72 (1958).
- Lentz, John, and Richard Bennet, "Automatic Measurement of Star
Positions", Electronics, Vol.27 No.6 (Jun 1954), pp.158-163.
- Lentz, John, Interview TC-34 in the IBM Oral History of the Computer,
conducted by Larry Saphire, 8 Nov 1967.
- Eckert, W.J., and R.B. Jones, "Automatic Measurement of Photographic
Star Positions", Astronomical Journal, Vol.59, No.2 (March
- Eckert, W.J., and Rebecca Jones, "Measuring Engines",
in Hiltner, W.A., Astronomical Techniques, Vol II:
"Stars and Stellar Systems", U of Chicago Press (1962).
- Grosch, Herbert R.J., Computer: Bit
Slices from a Life,
Third Millenium Books, Novato CA (1991), ISBN 0-88733-085
[3rd ed mss)].
- Brennan, Jean Ford,
The IBM Watson
Laboratory at Columbia University: A History, IBM, Armonk NY (1971).
- Bashe, Charles J.; Lyle R. Johnson; John H. Palmer; Emerson
IBM's Early Computers, MIT Press (1985).
- The Charles Babbage Institute lists an IBM 610 manual among its holdings.
Most recent update:
Wed Apr 29 16:38:16 2009
Frank da Cruz / email@example.com /
Columbia University Computing History