In 1930, Columbia
Professor Ben Wood, who had
begun Columbia's half-century long special relationship with IBM in 1928-29
when he founded the Columbia Statistical
Bureau with a large grant of standard late-1920s punched-card machines
from Thomas J. Watson, approached Watson again
with a request for a machine more suited to the needs of statistics than
business. Watson obliged, and had engineers James Bryce and George Daly in
IBM's Endicott plant build a gigantic tabulator capable of accumulating sums
of squares, raising numbers to powers, and so forth by means of
direct subtraction (the first punched-card machine to do this) plus
a novel system of ten paired accumulators.
The new machine "mass-produced the sums of products by the method of
progressive digiting and read punch cards at the rate of 150 per minute. It
contained ten 10-position counters (left,
Photo: [103]; click to enlarge)
with provision for shifting totals
internally from one counter to another – a capability that anticipated
a future function of computers." [9]. The new machine, variously called the
"Columbia Machine", the "Statistical Calculator", the "Difference
Tabulator", and (because of its massive size) the
"Packard",
was delivered and installed in 1931.
Allan Olley reports (November 2013) that this machine still exists. It's in
the "basement" (not available for viewing) of the "nation's attic",
the Smithsonian Instition; here's a modern photo:
Reference [103] shows a truncated
clipping from a New York World article supposedly dated "March
1, 1920" (which is obviously a mistake, since it refers to the Statistical
Bureau in Hamilton Hall, which did not exist until 1929) called "SUPER
COMPUTING MACHINES SHOWN":
"New statistical machines with the mental power of 100 skilled mathematicians
in solving even highly complex algebraic problems were demonstrated
yesterday for the first time before a group of psychologists, educational
research workers and statisticians in the laboratories of the Columbia
University Statistical Bureau in Hamilton Hall.
"One of the tabulators exhibited can work out and print the results of as
many as twelve difficult problems in just a single rapid operation. It is
designed to handle differences and reckon powers of numbers up to the tenth,
whereas such machines hiterto [sic] have been able to compute only the
second power of numbers.
"Richard Warren and Robert M. Mendenhall, research workers at Columbia and
statistical consultants for the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of
Teaching, are responsible for most of the inventions which were first
announced at the educator's convention in Atlantic City last week.
"These new machines will be a tremendous boon to research, Dr. Ben. D. Wood,
Director of the Statistical Bureau, said yesterday, through making
statistical procedure more accurate, much faster and less expensive.
With the assistance of the new tabu-"
(The clipping breaks off here.) I can't imagine what they are
talking about, unless it's the Columbia Difference Tabulator or a prototype
of it.
References:
Bashe, Charles J.; Lyle R. Johnson; John H. Palmer; Emerson
W. Pugh,
IBM's Early Computers, MIT Press (1985).