University of Minnesota
Institute of Technology
myU OneStop

Electrical and Computer Engineering

Honeywell and the 'oldest question' in computer history

Tom Misa, PhD

"Who invented the computer?" is the oldest and most-contentious question in the history of computing.
Strong evidence exists to support the priority claims of numerous rival groups, working in Berlin,
Cambridge, Manchester, Philadelphia, and St. Paul. The talk briefly outlines these claims. The main
presentation analyzes the epic legal battle (1947-73) involving Honeywell and Sperry-Rand that settled
the patent-law question. There is, however, recently discovered evidence from the Charles Babbage
Institute archives to consider. The talk concludes with a definitive answer to the'oldest question'.