Det virtuelle datamuseum / Regnecentralen / Niels Ivar Bech - en epoke i edb-udviklingen i Danmark
Summaries in English
Preface, by the editors
The compilation of the book was inspired by the wish to celebrate the memory of Niels Ivar Bech (1920-1975) leading figure in the development of computers in Denmark from 1955. The book consists of a number of articles, written by persons who took part in the computer development.
From calculator to managing director, by Arne Jensen
The career of Niels Ivar Bech as calculator at the actuarian department of Kjøbenhavns Telefon Aktieselskab during the years 1949 to 1957 gives the picture of a highly motivated person, deeply concerned with both the potentialities of the technical development and its repercussions in the human sphere. Brief glimpses of his later reaction on the situation of Regnecentralen, of which he was the managing director from 1957 to 1971, suggest a lack of constructive collaboration on the part of the members of the board of the company.
The early years of Dask, by Bent Scharøe Petersen
Electronic computing in Denmark originates in a committee established in 1947 by The Academy of Technical Sciences, with Dr. Richard Petersen as the chairman. In 1952 this committee obtained free access to the complete designs of the computer Besk, that was being built by the Swedish »Matematikmaskinnämndens arbetsgrupp«. The project got financed in 1955, leading to the establishment of the non-profit organization Regnecentralen. The computer Dask was built as a slightly modified copy of Besk, and started operation in 1957. The early demonstrations included remote control of the computer via telephone lines.
The development of a hardware production, by Tage Vejlø
The computer Dask was built in what used to be a private villa. The construction was accomplished in a concentrated effort by a devoted group of people, who had to assemble all the parts, down to the single storage rings, by manual work. A new hectic activity started in 1959, with the development of the prototype of Gier. This was followed in 1960 with the establishment of a production department, charged with the task of producing eight copies of Gier before the end of 1961. In 1962 the production of a further series of ten machines was decided. This led to a transfer of the production department to Præstø, 80 km south of Copenhagen. By 1970 the department employed 150 people, and was moved to new premises.
Courses in coding for Dask, by Ole Møller
Regular courses in Dask coding started in November 1955. The number of students approached 100, coming from a wide range of companies and public institutions. The stress was on computations, expressed in machine language. The major sources of concern were the inconveniences of the primitive machine language, the need for scaling to avoid overflow, and arithmetic modifications of instructions. A manual of Dask coding was written for use in the courses, and was completed in 1958. As a result of the courses, a group of interested students guided by Niels Ivar Bech continued to develop a library of subroutines, thus laying the foundation for later software projects at Regnecentralen.
Regnecentralen and Algol 60, by Peter Naur
Regnecentralen's concern with Algol 60 started with a European Algol conference, held at Regnecentralen in February 1959. This led to the distribution from Regnecentralen of a series of informal discussion letters, the Algol Bulletins. The result of the international conference for defining the langguage, the Report on the Algorithmic Language Algol 60, edited by Peter Naur, was published by Regnecentralen in March 1960. An Algol 60 compiler for Dask was completed in September 1961. The compiler for Gier, based on a novel multipass design, was ready in August 1962. The methods of this compiler were used in several later compilers for Algol 60 and Cobol, and inspired the formulation of textbook material.
Everyman's Dask Algol, by Christian Andersen
Niels Ivar Bech's enthusiasm for Algol triggered Christian Andersen to write a text on the language, which first appeared in 1961, titled »Everyman's Dask Algol«. The development of Gier Algol prompted a revised version that was ready in 1963. In a still later version the language is treated as a tool for describing problems of administrative data processing.
How Gier was born, by Einar Andersen
The computer Gier originated in a constructive collaboration between Regnecentralen and the Royal Danish Geodetic Institute, starting in 1958. Regnecentralen provided the circuit design and development, while the Geodetic Institute developed the logical structure and financed the parts. The machine was first shown to the public in 1960, and was delivered in 1961. Regnecentralen subsequently put the machine into regular production. The prototype was used by Geodetic Institute until the mid seventies.
Gier in the Danish universities, by Christan Gram
From 1959 considerable efforts were made by Niels Ivar Bech to strengthen and formalize the connections between Regnecentralen and the Danish universities. An attempt was made to establish permanent collaboration contracts, including a provision that Regnecentralen would establish computing centers equipped with Giers at several universities and would help establish computer courses. These attempts to set up a firm local basis of computer knowledge failed, however. IBM was allowed to establish the Northern European University Computing Center at the Technical University, in 1965. However, a number of Giers were purchased for Danish universities and became of major significance over several years.
RC2000 - the realization of an idea, by Kurt Andersen
The development of the RC2000 paper reader gave rise to a number of unfamiliar mechanical problems for Regnecentralen, but led to one of its most successful products: a highly reliable reader, working at 2000 characters per second.
From Gier to RC4000, by Henning Isaksson
The hardware development engineers at Regnecentralen were faced by a series of challenges during the years 1960 to '68, having to master digital circuit techniques, physical realizations of computers, reliability techniques, analog circuit techniques, system development, documentation techniques, project management, and contract negotiations. These challenges were met successfully, with the result that a series of marketable products were produced, including the second generation computer Gier and the third generation computer RC4000.
A programmer comes of age, by Per Brinch Hansen
Starting in the compiler development group of Regnecentralen in 1963, Per Brinch Hansen got the chance to design the structure of Regnecentralen's third generation full scale computer, the RC4000. First developed for at special process control application, this computer became the platform of a novel operating system, based on the idea of a basic nucleus that will accommodate a variety of user-oriented multiprogrammed systems.
Advocate for Regnecentralen, by Gunnar Enné
The author was first called in as a legal adviser for Regnecentralen when the CDC1604 computer was acquired in 1963. This led to unusual contract arrangements, covering Regnecentralen's relations to the major users of this equipment. Another major task was the establishment of Regnecentralen as a limited company, in 1964. All of the author's work became deeply influenced by Niels Ivar Bech's unusual abilities as a negotiator and his deep trust of his collaborators.
EDP as a service activity, by Niels Schreiner Andersen
From 1958, when the computer Dask was completed, Regnecentralen has been operating actively as an EDP service bureau, seeking customers from a wide field of applications, including administration and control.The acquistion by Regnecentralen, in 1963, of af CDC1604 computer, to be used for EDP service, at the same time as the company's own Giers were used, created considerable problems of coordination. Even so, Regnecentralens's EDP service activity has remained a dominant factor in Danish computing.
Regnecentralen in Eastern Europe, by Jan Madey
Regnecentralen was introduced in Eastern Europe through the acquisition of a Gier for the University of Warsaw in 1964. Since then Regnecentralen's equipment and know-how has been introduced in Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Bulgaria.
The idea of a Nordic computer industry, by Lars Monrad-Krohn
From 1960 Niels Ivar Bech worked actively on the idea of a fusion of the computer manufacturers in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, latest during the summer of 1970. The attempts were unsuccessful, but are characteristic of the drive and vision of Niels Ivar Bech.
Niels Ivar Bech and BIT, by Carl-Erik Fröberg
The idea of a Nordic scientific journal devoted to computer science formed itself in 1960, and the first issue of BIT was published early in 1961. The journal was supported very actively by Niels Ivar Bech and Regnecentralen. The journal soon established itself as an internation medium within the fields of numerical analysis and programming.
NordSAM, NordDATA and Niels Ivar Bech, by Svein A. Øvergaard
Nordic computer conferences have been held annually since 1959, with Niels Ivar Bech as one of the active supportere. As the number of participants increased from 270 to well over 1000 the main interest has shifted from numerical analysis to business data processing. The one exception to this line of development was the conference in Denmark in 1966, which was arranged as a workshop for 150 selected, active participants.
Niels Ivar Bech and the international computer milieu, by Isaac L. Auerbach
Niels Ivar Bech contributed very actively to the international cooperation in the computer field, thus as founding council member of IFIP, as program chairman for the IFIP Congress '62, as co-founder of IFIP JAG, as adviser to Unesco, and as the first chairman of IFIP TC3 on education.
The purity of heart, by Piet Hein
From personal contacts made via a computer simulation of a variation of the game Nim and a computer construction of the super-ellipse, Niels Ivar Bech emerges as a person of wide conceptual horizon, but singularly focused on his work.
Towards the systems thinking, by Börje Langefors
A collaboration between the Swedish Saab computer group and Regnecentralen started in the mid 1950ies while both groups were building a computer based on the design of Besk. By 1962 the contacts centered around an advanced seminar on the development of data systems, held by Regnecentralen. This inspired much thinking in the Nordic countries during the following years.
The first EDP-courses at Egelund, by Erik Ohrt
Electronic data processing entered the courses given at Egelund, the conference organization of the Danish Employers' Confederation, from 1958. Several courses for top managers on the use of computers in business were arranged in 1959. From December intensive courses, based on the study of a detailed case describing the activity of an existing business organization, were given regularly.
Forecasting election results on television, by Aage Melbye
The results of public elections have been processed by Regnecentralen for immediate use on television regularly since 1960. In parallel with a steady development of the technical set-up, the tasks done by the system have been continually extended, from providing summaries and forecasts of the election results to supplying the producer staff with full guidance on the current and coming events.
Systems Construction, by Poul Sveistrup
Niels Ivar Bech's personality may be characterized as Systems Designer. As teacher, manager or communicator, he always used the technique of restructuring the problem by reformulation to make it easier to solve. He believed in flexibility and always strived for avoiding stability. Therefore he never believed in formal organizational structures, but made his own invisible patterns beneath the formal structures. He worked like a mole, and this kind of working was usuallay called »to mole«. - It is so modern to talk about the »grassroots«, but one has to be a mole to feel at home among them.
From coding to computer science, by H. B. Hansen
From 1958 the author was involved in the programming of basic software for administrative data processing, in connection by Regnecentralen's acquisition of a second generation computer, the CDC1604, from USA in 1963. To counteract the American impact, a Danish data processing terminology was developed at this time. In 1966 the basis for the new computer science discipline had become so well established that a working group started the development of a Danish educational material on computer methods - an activity which had great influence on the computer science education in Denmark.
Odds and ends about electromagnetic memory, by Niels Ivar Bech
The article is a lecture given by the author, January, 25th, 1956 at a seminar for the Nordic telephone companies, held in various cities at the same time with direct tele-communication. Niels Ivar Bech describes future applications of computers in automation of planning and administration within a telephone company. The use of electromagnetic memory for registration of tele-communicated data on telephone calls is suggested. The possible application of these data for invoicing and traffic statistics is outlined.