[TUHS] [TUHS} RIP Claude Shannon

Larry McVoy lm at mcvoy.com
Sun Feb 25 02:01:12 AEST 2018

Just for the record, I love these memories.  A glimpse into history.
Detours like these are very welcome in my opinion.

I had forgotten about this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gw2Bq0HYu1M

On Sat, Feb 24, 2018 at 10:51:19AM -0500, Doug McIlroy wrote:
> So many memories. The "ultimate machine" (which was brought out and
> demonstrated from time to time while I was at the Labs) was built in
> collaboration with Ed Moore (he of Moore-model automata, who published
> "Dijkstra's algorithm" for shortest paths a year before Dijkstra) and
> (I believe) Dave Hagelbarger. Moore endowed the machine with a longevity
> property seldom remarked on: majority logic so that any electrical
> component can be removed without harming its observable behavior.
> Shannon moved to MIT from Bell Labs some weeks before I moved the
> other way, so I only met him much later when he visited the Unix room
> (an excuse, albeit weak, for this distant detour from TUHS). By that
> time Shannon was descending into Alzheimer's fog, but his wife who
> accompanied him was a memorably curious and perceptive visitor. I have
> wondered what role she may have played as a sounding board or more in
> Shannon's research.
> As a child, I used to ski on the 50-foot hill that was the lawn of the
> mansion that Shannon would buy when he moved to Massachusetts. We kids
> would ski down and climb back up. Not Shannon. He installed a chairlift.
> One house separated mine from the ski hill. It belonged to John Trump,
> another MIT prof who engineered the Van de Graaff generator into a
> commercial product for generating million-volt x-rays and, yes, was uncle
> of the Donald. John, as kind as he was bright, fortunately did not live
> to see the apotheosis of his wayward nephew.
> Doug
> > We lost Claude Shannon on this day in 2001. He was a mathematician,
> > electrical engineer, and cryptographer; he is regarded as the "father" of
> > information theory, and he pioneered digital circuit design. Amongst
> > other things he built a barbed-wire telegraph, the "Ultimate Machine" (it
> > reached up and switched itself off), a Roman numeral computer ("THROBAC"),
> > the Minivac 601 (a digital trainer), a Rubik's Cube solver, a mechanical
> > mouse that learned how to solve mazes, and outlined a chess program
> > (pre-Belle). He formulated the security mantra "The enemy knows the
> > system", and did top-secret work in WW-2 on crypto and fire-control
> > systems.

Larry McVoy            	     lm at mcvoy.com             http://www.mcvoy.com/lm 

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