George Robert Stibitz (1904 - 1995)

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Death: Died
Managed by: Doug Robinson
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About George Robert Stibitz

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Stibitz

George Robert Stibitz (April 20, 1904 – January 31, 1995) is internationally recognized as one of the fathers of the modern first digital computer. He was a Bell Labs researcher known for his work in the 1930s and 1940s on the realization of Boolean logic digital circuits using electromechanical relays as the switching element.

Stibitz was born in York, Pennsylvania. He received his bachelor's degree from Denison University in Granville, Ohio, his master's degree from Union College in 1927, and his Ph.D. in mathematical physics in 1930 from Cornell University.

Computer

In November 1937, George Stibitz, then working at Bell Labs, completed a relay-based calculator he dubbed the "Model K" (for "kitchen table", on which he had assembled it), which calculated using binary addition. Replicas of the "Model K" now reside in the Smithsonian Institution, the William Howard Doane Library at Denison University and the American Computer Museum in Bozeman, Montana where the George R. Stibitz Computer and Communications Pioneer Awards are granted. Bell Labs subsequently authorized a full research program in late 1938 with Stibitz at the helm. Their Model 1 Complex Calculator, completed in November 1939, was able to do calculations on complex numbers. In a demonstration to the American Mathematical Society conference at Dartmouth College in September 1940, Stibitz used a teletype to send commands to the Model 1 Complex Calculator in New York over telegraph lines. It was the first computing machine ever used remotely.

A bronze plaque is located in the entryway of McNutt Hall at Dartmouth College reads, "In this building on September 9, 1940, George Robert Stibitz, then a mathematician with bell telephone laboratories, first demonstrated the remote operation of an electrical digital computer. Stibitz, who conceived the electrical digital computer in 1937 at Bell Labs, described his invention of the "complex number calculator" at a meeting of the Mathematical Association of America held here. Members of the audience transmitted problems to the computer at Bell Labs in New York City, and in seconds received solutions transmitted from the computer to a teletypewriter in this hall."

Awards

Harry H. Goode Memorial Award in 1965 (together with Konrad Zuse)

Stibitz held 38 patents, in addition to those he earned at Bell Labs. He became a member of the faculty at Dartmouth College in 1964 to build bridges between the fields of computing and medicine, and retired from research in 1983.

Computer art

In his later years, George "turned to non-verbal uses of the computer". Specifically, he used a Commodore-Amiga to create computer art. In a 1990 letter written to the department chair of the Mathematics and Computer Science department of Denison University he said:

I have turned to non-verbal uses of the computer, and have made a display of computer "art". The quotes are obligatory, for the result of my efforts is not to create important art but to show that this activity is fun, much as the creation of computers was fifty years ago.

The Mathematics and Computer Science department at Denison University has enlarged and displayed some of his artwork.

Publications

Stibitz, George; Larrivee, Jules A. (1957). Mathematics and Computers. New York: McGraw-Hill.

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