Whirlwind I: computer architectures as testing grounds for the spaces of modernity

Eva Gil Lopesino
Texto completo: PDF



This interdisciplinary research explores the enormous impact that digital computing technologies have had on how architecture has been formed, as represented and received since the mid-20th century. It focuses on the link between architecture and computing, particularly as materialised through architectural spaces generated literally by both disciplines: the technological device building and the technological device computer. Our research begins by describing technological devices (computers) belonging to the pre-generations of computers (electromechanical and electronic devices) and to the First Generation of Computing (digital devices), according to the genealogy proposed by the American electrical engineer Gordon Bell in 1980 and the curator Paul E. Ceruzzi in 2003. Specifically, it studies one of the three most important digital computers developed in the United States. It belonged to the First Generation: The Whirlwind I or WWI was a mainframe developed on the campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) between 1945 and 1956 by Jay W. Forrester and his team. This case study is one of the first examples of computational architecture: It is a technological device (building and computer) that constitutes a space which is both inhabited and travelled through. This example acts as a starting point in the analysis of the birth of the digital era of computing and the development of modern architecture, both of which coincided in time and evolved in parallel. These spaces of the first digital computers provided the first glimpse of a number of characteristics that would influence and be influenced by the architectures that were being developed in the purely architectural discipline at the time. Although these spaces are not usually included among the ones told about in the narrative of modern architecture, they should be included in it, as they were used in trying out issues that were otherwise being developed in the spaces of modernity.

Palabras clave

Architecture; Computing; Device; 1st Generation; Whirlwind I


ACKLEY, John A. “Whirlwind.” En Encyclopedia of Computer Science, editado por Ralston, Anthony y Edwin D. Reilly, 1.847–1.848. Chichester: John Wiley and Sons Ltd., 2003.

AGAMBEN, Giorgio. ¿Qué es un dispositivo? seguido de El amigo y de La iglesia y el reino, Argumentos. Traducido por Ruvituso, Mercedes. 1ª ed. Barcelona: Anagrama, 2015.

BELL, Gordon. “A Personal CyberMuseum: Documents, Photo Albums, Talks, and Videotapes about Computing History.” Acceso 30 de mayo, 2020. https://gordonbell. azurewebsites.net/CyberMuseumPubs. Htm

BROCK, David C. “Meeting Whirlwind’s Joe Thompson.” Acceso 21 de mayo, 2020. https://medium.com/ chmcore/meeting-whirlwinds-joethompson- cc8a326597e9.

BROCK, David C. “Oral History of Joe Thompson.” IEEE Annals of the History of Computing 40, no. 2 (-04-01, 2018): 6-16. doi:10.1109/ MAHC.2018.022921440.

CERUZZI, Paul E. “Historia de la informática.” En Fronteras del conocimiento, editado por Gandarias, Cecilia, 109-127. Madrid: BBVA, 2008.

COLOMINA, Beatriz and Jennifer Bloomer. Sexuality & Space. Nueva York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1992.

COLOMINA, Beatriz. La domesticidad en guerra. Barcelona: Barcelona Actar, 2006.

EAMES, C., Eames, R. A Computer Perspective. Editado por Glen Fleck. Harvard: Harvard University Press, 1973.

EAMES, C., Eames, R. A Computer Perspective. Background to the Computer Age. 2ª ed. Harvard: Harvard University Press, 1990.

FEDORKOW, Guy C. “The Whirlwind Computer at CHM.” Publicado en CHM Blog el 30 de noviembre, 2018. Acceso 20 de abril, 2020. https:// computerhistory.org/blog/thewhirlwind- computer-at-chm/.

FORRESTER, Jay W., Robert R. Everett. “The Whirlwind Computer Project.” IEEE Transactions on Aerospace and Electronic Systems 26, no. 5 (1990): 903- 910, doi:10.1109/7.102724.

HALSTED, David G., “The Origins of the Architectural Metaphor in Computing: Design and Technology at IBM, 1957–1964,” IEEE Annals of the History of Computing 40, no. 1 (Jan.-Mar. 2018): 61-70, doi:10.1109/ MAHC.2018.012171268.

HARWOOD, John. “The White Room: Eliot Noyes and the Logic of the Information Age Interior.” Grey Room 12, (2003): 5-31. doi:10.1162/152638103322446451.

HOPPER, Grace M. “The First Bug,” IEEE Annals of the History of Computing 3, no. 3 (1981): 285-286.

LANE, David, y John STERMAN. “Jay F. Forrester.” En Memorial Tributes: Volume 22, 115-122. Washington D.C.: The National Academies Press, 2019.

MEEK, Chester L. “Mainframe.” En Encyclopedia of Computer Science, editado por Anthony Ralston y Edwin D. Reilly, 1068. Chichester: John Wiley and Sons Ltd., 2003.

NEGROPONTE, Nicholas. The Architecture Machine. Massachusetts: The M.I.T. Press, 1970.

NOVEMBER, Joe. 2004. “LINC: biology’s revolutionary little computer”. Endeavour 28, no. 3:125-131.

O’REGAN, Gerard. A Brief History of Computing. 2ª edición. Londres: Springer, 2012.

RANDELL, Brian. “From Analytical Engine to Electronic Digital Computer: The Contributions of Ludgate, Torres, and Bush.” IEEE Annals of the History of Computing 4, no. 4 (1982): 327-341. doi:10.1109/MAHC.1982.10042.

RANDELL, Brian, Maurice V. Wilkes, y Paul E. Ceruzzi, “Digital Computers, History Of.” En Encyclopedia of Computer Science, editado por Anthony Ralston y Edwin D. Reilly, 545-570. Chichester: John Wiley and Sons Ltd., 2003.

REDMOND, Kent C. Project Whirlwind: The History of a Pioneer Computer, editado por Thomas Malcolm Smith. Bedford: Bedford Digital Press, 1980.

REDMOND, Kent C. y Thomas M. Smith. From Whirlwind to MITRE: The R&D Story of the SAGE Air Defense Computer. Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2000.

ROJAS, Raúl y Ulf Hashagen. The First Computers: History and Architectures. Edición paperback 2002. Massachusetts: London MIT Press, 2000.

THOMPSON, Clive. “The Secret History of Women in Coding. Computer Programming Once had Much Better Gender Balance than it does Today. what Went Wrong?” The New York Times Magazine, 13 de febrero, 2019. https://www.nytimes. com/2019/02/13/magazine/womencoding- computer-programming.html.

VON NEUMANN, J. “First Draft of a Report on the EDVAC.” En Contract No. W-670-Om-4926, U.S. Army Ordnance Department. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, Moore School of Electrical Engineering, 1945.

WAUGH, Alice C. “Plenty of Computing History in N42.”, MIT Tech Talk, 14 de enero, 1998. http://news. mit.edu/1998/n42-0114.

WILLIAMS, Michael R. Michael Roy. A History of Computing Technology. Ed. Los Alamitos (California): IEEE Computer Society Press, 1997.

WOLF, William M. No “e”. Estados Unidos: Xlibris, 2005.

WURSTER, Christian. Computers: An Illustrated History. Köln: Köln Taschen, 2002.

Enlaces refback

  • No hay ningún enlace refback.

Copyright (c) 2021 Autor / BY-NC-ND