Faster Than a Speeding Bullet

Jim V. Leonard

Boeing Corporation

I will review my experiences with computers and software over my lifetime, starting out with some of my memories as a kid before WW II, where the fastest thing I knew was Superman.

During that time, the first computer was being envisioned, using electromechanical relays that filled a several story building. ENIAC, I believe, was the name. My next experience was in college at Akron University, where we had a Bendix G-15 Computer; it was about the size of a refrigerator. In graduate school at Washington University-St. Louis, I was in a class taught by Dr. Jerry Cox. The class designed and had built a digital computer known as the 4W2 (Four Week Wonder). Although housed in a standard 19" rack, this may have been the world's first "personal" computer. It was patterned after the LINC-11 (Laboratory Instruction Computer). I spent that summer of 1965 writing programs in machine language for this computer. Working at McDonnell-Douglas at the same time, I was involved in a spacecraft program in which we used an intervolometer to sequence events. It wasn't until later that I was on another program that used a digital computer.

The remainder of the speech will involve my experiences with an existing program that utilizes Westinghouse assembly language and then Ada as a design language; I will conclude with some thoughts on the future of programming.