Finally, the Barta Building Speaks
The Most Important Building in the History of Computing
The Untold Story of Everything Digital
New Book & Podcast Forthcoming, Fall 2019
The amazing journey of Jay Forrester and his team of sassy, brilliant engineers, who, in a single, white-hot decade of fantastical invention, made the world go digital.
(New book based on the true story & Amazon best seller
Bright Boys by Tom Green)
Top 10 First-Evers in the Barta Building
Jay Forrester invents first-ever magnetic-core memory (RAM): tiny magnets whose orientation could represent ones or zeros. Magnetic-core memory
became the computer industry standard for 20 years, until Intel’s first processor.
First-ever software: Code warriors, J. Halcombe Laning , Jr & Neal Zierler combined shorthand English and algebraic formulas for first algebraic compiler. IBM’s John Backus visited the Barta Building for a demo, then returned to IBM and invented FORTRAN (the first widely used high-level programming language).
Impatient using punched paper tape, first-ever keyboard
and monitor installed on Whirlwind computer.
Bob Everett designs first-ever “light gun” (precursor to modern mouse).
Touch the light gun to the monitor, and the computer responds.
First-ever networking as data is transmitted via microwave
from Bedford, MA to computer in Cambridge, MA (20 miles).
Proved to be too expensive; opted for telephone lines.
First-ever modem (modulator-demodulator): When AT&T protested
that copper-wire telephone lines were unable to transmit data,
John Harrington invents the modem.
First-ever air-traffic control: Combined flight radar data and Whirlwind computer to organize and control air traffic. Became international standard.
First-ever digital reservation system: Transformed manual airline reservations from centralized reservation centers into the Sabre digital reservation system.
First-ever microchip: Dudley Buck invents the Cryotron―an early form of the microchip―while working on Whirlwind computer.
First-ever computer graphics program: Douglas Ross secretly develops computer graphics program for Whirlwind, and used his fingertip as a stylus while drawing directly on computer monitor.
Incredibly, there were hundreds more
First-Evers created in the Barta Building.
(See more this fall (2019): The Untold Story of Everything Digital