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Existence Precedes Essence - Meaning of the Stored-Program Concept

Abstract : The emergence of electronic stored-program computers in contain the 1940s marks a break with past developments in machine calculation. Drawing on the work of various historians, I attempt to define the essence of that break and therefore of the modern computer. I conclude that the generally used distinction between computers and precursor machines in terms of the stored-program concept and von Neumann architecture rests not only on differences in hardware but also in the programming and use of machines. Next I discuss the derived definition in terms of machines from the 1940s and 50s to elucidate the definition's implications for the history of computing.
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Allan Olley. Existence Precedes Essence - Meaning of the Stored-Program Concept. IFIP WG 9.7 International Conference on History of Computing (HC) / Held as Part of World Computer Congress (WCC), Sep 2010, Brisbane, Australia. pp.169-178, ⟨10.1007/978-3-642-15199-6_17⟩. ⟨hal-01059622⟩



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