BURKS, Arthur W., Herman H. GOLDSTINE, & John von NEUMANN.

Preliminary Discussion of the Logical Design of an Electronic Computing Instrument. Part I, volume I.

Princeton: The Institute for Advanced Study, September 1947

4to, 6 + 42 leaves. Original buff wrapppers, crudely but effectively rebacked with pale card. Signature “Newman” on upper wrapper, probably Professor M.H.A. Newman (1897–1984), mathematician and computer pioneer and one of Alan Turing’s professors at Cambridge; stamp of Imperial College London on fore-edge, spine and lower corner covered in clear adhesive tape over “for Reference Only sticker”, shelf marks and stamp on title-page.

Second, enlarged edition a year after the first. “A few months after ENIAC had its first public demonstration (in February 1946), the three chief members of the IAS Electronic Computer Project issued their Preliminary Discussion…, a report to the Army Ordnance Department that represents the first published formal conceptual paper on the stored-program computer, if we call von Neumann’s informal First Draft a privately circulated working paper. The first edition of the Preliminary Report appeared in June 1946; a revised second edition, containing an expanded account of the arithmetic processes and a report of further experimental work, was issued in September 1947. This was followed by the three-part Planning and Coding of Problems… “The Preliminary Report contains the first technical description of what is known as the von Neumann architecture, in which programs and data are stored in a comparatively slow-to-access storage medium, such as a hard disk; and work is performed on them in a fast, volatile random access-memory…” (from a long note in Hook & Norman, Origins of cyberspace, 959 (1).


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