Who Was Who in IBM's Programming Research? --
Early FORTRAN Days

Computer History Vignettes

Via Bob Bemer

 
I've always been a bit of a document hoarder since my earliest year in the computer business (1949). Watts Humphrey calls us "squirrels". Maybe I had a premonition that something useful would come of computers. In a recent exhumation I found what appeared to be a Xerox copy of a decaying mimeograph copy (pre-Xerox, you know) of an internal handout called "Pro Res". It gave brief personal data about the members of IBM's Programming Research Department in January of 1957, with FORTRAN, FORTRANSIT, and COMMERCIAL TRANSLATOR (COMTRAN) still under development and construction.

Here is the content, retyped, because it may be the most reliable information one can get after all this time. Secretary Rosemarie Wright produced it, and nothing has been changed.

Harry and Bert didn't work for IBM. I think it was Sesame Street.


HARRY: Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to take this opportunity to --

BERT: No, no, Harry! We've got to be more direct. Get attention quickly.

HARRY: You're right, Bert. How about this? Ladies and gentlemen -- I mean, Salutations, Mad Mathematicians. Presenting the first issue of PRO RES for your edification --

BERT: And delight! Read'em and know'm. Your buddies, that is. To be issued monthly.

HARRY: PRO RES --

BERT: Means "things before facts".

HARRY: Roughly speaking.

BERT: Chock full of news. A bite in every bit.

HARRY: Innermost secrets revealed!

BERT: You tell 'em. We print 'em.

HARRY: PRO RES is your paper.

BERT: Bull's eye, Harry. PRO RES is a connoisseur's delight. Our editor, Rosemarie Wright, friendly and bright.

HARRY: This month's issue gives a thumbnail sketch of everybody in Programming Research.

BERT: And thanks to Bob Bemer for the title for our publication.

HARRY: That should do it, Bert.

BERT: Right you are, Harry. Hey, that's my copy you're walking off with. Get your own. See Rosemarie.


OTTO ALEXANDER

Otto and his family (1boy and 1girl) will soon be moving to River Edge, N. J., from Pittsburgh. Otto joined IBM about two months ago after leaving U.S. Steel where he worked at Data Processing. He attended the University of Pittsburgh, where he studied Industrial Engineering and is a member of the Sigma Tau. Otto's hobby is golf. He is currently working on the 650 compiler.

JOHN BACKUS

John, his wife Marjorie and 9 month old daughter Karen live in Chappaqua, N.Y. He joined IBM in 1950 as a programmer in the Pure Science Department, working with the Selective Sequence Electronic Calculator. He transferred to the Scientific Computing Service in 1952. In 1954 he was appointed manager of the Programming Research Group in Applied Science and is presently Department Manager of Programming Research Department. John was awarded B.S. and M.S. degrees in mathematics by Columbia University. He was a member of the team that designed the 704 and is a member of the IRE and ACM. John's hobbies are Hi Fidelity and chess.

ROBERT BEEBER

Bob and his recent wife of 3 months (Helene) are now living in N.Y. after returning from their honeymoon in Florida. Bob came to IBM in the summer of 1955 from Queens College and St. Peters College where he was a mathematics teacher. He has a Master's degree in physics from Catholic University of America and has taken graduate courses at Columbia University. Bob's hobbies are Hi Fidelity, classical music, and playing chess. Currently he is writing the subroutine library for FORTRAN.

ROBERT BEMER

Bob, his wife Virginia, and family live in Weston, Conn. Bob joined IBM in 1955 as a Senior Research Mathematician in the Applied Science Dept., and was later transferred to Programming Research. Before Bob came to IBM he was employed by Lockheed Missile Systems Div. in charge of computing. He received a B.A. from Albion College in Michigan. Bob is a member of the ACM, SIAM, and the DCA. He is responsible for designing the PRINT I automatic coding system for the 705. Bob's varied interests include music, woodworking and contests. His pet peeve: "This isn't exactly California weather". Bob is Assistant Manager of Systems for the Programming Research Department.

HARRY BEKISH

Harry and his wife Evelyn live in Jackson Heights, N. Y. Harry joined IBM at Chicago in 1950 where he was attached to the 701 Scientific Computer Center. In early 1954 he transferred to New York and in December of 1954 went to Poughkeepsie where he worked in the Programming Research group. He returned with the group to WHQ in May of 1956. Harry received a B.A. in mathematics at Yale, B.S. in meteorology at N.Y.U., and a M.S. in mathematics at the University of Chicago. Harry is responsible for SORT II for the 702 and many memory print programs for the 705. He is a member of the Sigma Chi and is interested in electronics. Harry is currently working on the Analyzer Program.

ROBERT BRILL

Bob, a new member of Programming Research, joined the department about a week ago. In the past he has been engaged in writing in California. Bob attended the University of Pennsylvania where he was an English major. He is a member of the British Chess Problem Society and plays the guitar.

THOMAS GLANS

Tom and his wife Barbara (recently married) live in Weston, Conn. Tom joined IBM six months ago after leaving Rem-Rand as a programmer. Tom received his B.A. from Wesleyan University. He is a member of the Conn. Sports Car Club and the ACM. His favorite hobbies are golf and sports car racing. Tom's current projects in Programming Research are designing 750 automatic coding system, 750 Print and DDT --- (gets a bug every time).

RICHARD GOLDBERG

Dick and his wife Thelma live in Brooklyn Heights. He joined IBM in December of 1955. Previously, he was employed by N.Y.U. doing research in Applied Mathematics. Dick received a B.A. at Swarthmore and Ph.D. at N.Y.U. He is a member of the American Mathematical Society. Dick is interested in phonographs. He is presently working on FORTRAN and storage allocations for COMTRAN.

LOIS M. HAIBT

Lois and her husband Luther live in N. Y. and both attend Columbia University. Lois came to IBM in July of 1955 after graduating from Vassar. Lois worked summers while attending college for Bell Labs as a technical assistant. She is a member of the Mathematical Association of America. Lois is interested in reading and interior decorating. At present she is debugging FORTRAN for flow analysis.

DAVID A. HEMMES

Dave and his family recently moved to New York from California. Dave and his wife Geneva have two boys and one girl. Dave joined IBM about two months ago after leaving Lockheed Missile Systems Division, in Van Nuys, California, where he was group supervisor for Programming and Machine Operations. He attended Glendale College where he majored in mathematics. Dave is a member of the ACM and the Digital Computer Association, and is also co-author of "Flight Data Report". Dave is currently working on the translation from FORTRAN language to 650 compiler.

HARLAN L. HERRICK

Harlan along with his four sisters and two brothers was raised in Iowa. He lives with his wife Audrey and two little girls in Long Island. Harlan came to IBM 8 years ago from Yale where he taught mathematics. He received his masters at the State University of Iowa. Harlan is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Xi, and Mathematical Association of America. He is interested in languages, writing, tennis, piano, and chess. A few of Harlan's pet peeves are: materialism, dishonesty and hypocrisy. He is currently working on customer problems for FORTRAN.

CATHERINE KELLY

Catherine along with three brothers and three sisters was raised in Edinburgh, Scotland. Catherine came to IBM about one month ago. Before that she worked as a Secretary for the Income Tax Bureau in Edinburgh. She attended St. Thomas of Aquinas Commercial High School in Edinburgh. Her hobbies consist of music, dancing, television and netball. Catherine was a member of the Rangers (senior girl scouts) and has dislike for bus transportation in New York City.

BERNARD B. KLEIN

Bernie along with his four sisters was raised in Williamsport, Pa. Bernie came to IBM a little more than a year ago from service in the U. S. Air Force. He attended Pennsylvania State College where he studied Mathematics. He studied Political Theory at Georgetown. His hobbies include tennis, skating, swimming and sketching. Bernie is known to be one of the "Autocoder Experts".

JAMES A. LAGONA

Jim and wife, Betty, live in Mount Vernon. Jim came to IBM in 1954 and was recently transferred to our department from Product Testing. He was previously Treasurer of Mannes College. He attended NYU where he received a degree in Business Administration and his Masters in Education, and has also studied Accounting at Pace College. Jim is well known for his radio plays on major networks (NBC - CBS) and is a member of the Amateur Radio Relay League. Among his hobbies are classical records and amateur radio (station K 2SAS), and he is a mutual fund investment specialist.

LAWRENCE MICHELS

Larry was raised in Brooklyn and came to IBM about two years ago after he left the National Security Agency where he worked on computers. Larry received his B.S. and M.A. from Brooklyn College. His main hobby is "riding subways". Larry is now working on the possible revision of FORTRAN for drumless machines.

ROBERT A. NELSON

Bob, his wife Sara and two children (1 boy, 1 girl) live in Rockaway, N. J. Bob joined IBM approximately 2 1/2 years ago after he left the Foreign Service where he was communications supervisor at the American Embassy in London and Venice. Bob received his B.A. at the University of Iowa and also studied at NYU. Among his interests are reading, chess and music. Bob is now in charge of the group working on COMTRAN. (error: RWB)

RICHARD RIDGWAY

Dick and his wife, Lenore, and two children moved to New York from Philadelphia a few weeks ago. Dick joined IBM approximately one month ago after leaving Burroughs Corp. where he worked on logical design. He received his B.A. from Swarthmore and studied Electrical Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania, also computers at MIT. Dick can claim credit for "Compiler Routines" presented at ACM and "A2 Compiler". A few of his particular hobbies are model railroads, photography, construction of amplifiers, square dancing and round singing. Dick has a particular dislike for the front pages of newspapers and is in favor of paid holidays for everyone. Dick is one of the group now working on revision of FORTRAN for drumless machines.

DAVID SAYRE

Dave and his wife Ann live in Brooklyn Heights. He came to IBM in 1955 as Senior Mathematician in the Scientific Computing Center and later transferred to Programming Research. Previous to joining IBM, Dave was employed by the Johnson Research Foundation at the University of Pennsylvania. Dave attended Yale where he received his bachelor degree and Oxford University where he was awarded a doctorate in X-ray analysis. He is a member of the American Crystallographic Association and his leisure time is often spent playing the piano and guitar. Dave is Assistant Manager of Research in Programming Research.

WILLIAM SELDEN

Bill originally came from Avon, N.Y. He joined IBM in Poughkeepsie in 1955. At one time Bill was a full time fireman and also a dairy farmer. He studied agriculture at Cornell University and Political Science at Swarthmore. Bill is a member of Alpha Zeta and considered an "Autocoder expert". His hobby is model railroading. Bill is currently working on COMTRAN -- Input-Output considerations.

PETER B. SHERIDAN

Pete and his wife, Madeleine, live in the Gramercy Park section of New York. Pete came to IBM approximately four years ago from American Power Jet where he worked on mathematical evaluations. He taught for one year in the Department of Mathematics at Loyola University in New Orleans. Pete received his B.S. in mathematics from CCNY and a M.S. in mathematics at Fordham. His interests include record collecting, reading, mathematics and drawing. Pete is credited with the translation from Russian to English of a 701 program and a paper on "Generalized Lanchester Equations". He is a member of the Association for Symbolic Logic and the ACM. At present Pete is working on the 2nd version of the arithmetic section for FORTRAN.

HAROLD STERN

Hal and his two brothers grew up in Wheeling, West Virginia. He came to IBM in April of 1956. Hal attended Drafting School while in the United States Army, studied engineering at the University of Oklahoma (Norman, Oklahoma) and received his Master's at the University of Chicago. Some of Hal's various hobbies are: amateur playwriting, classical music and at present he is studying French. Hal completely abhors the New York subway systems and dislikes commercial television. Hal is currently working on "TOME" describing FORTRAN internally.

HELEN STOERZINGER

Helen and her brother were raised in Stanfordville, New York. She joined IBM at the Poughkeepsie Plant in March of 1955 as a secretary. Her previous job was with Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Beane as cashier. Helen attended Pine Plains Central High School in Pine Plains, N.Y. as a commercial student and she was a member of the Young Adult Club of Poughkeepsie and at present is a member of the YWCA. During her leisure hours, Helen's interests are skating, reading and music. She claims one objection to New York and that is crowds.

STANLEY K. SZABRONSKI

Stan was raised in Long Island and has a brother and sister. He came to IBM two years ago after serving with the United States Navy. Stan's college years were spent at Union College at Schenectady, New York. Among his various interests and hobbies are flying and swimming. Stan is considered one of the "Autocoder Experts". At present he is devoting his efforts to a language for the COMTRAN system.

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