A. Wayne Brooke Papers 1948-1986

Creator
Brooke, A. Wayne
Size
4.07 linear feet
Location

For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Special Collections Research Center Reference Staff.

Call number
MC 00268

The A. Wayne Brooke collection includes correspondence, writings, research notes, publications, photographs, and a 16mm film. The collection includes materials from 1948 to 1986. It focuses on the Selective Sequence Electronic Calculator (SSEC) at International Business Machines Inc. (IBM) and the history of computing.

Biographical/historical note

A. Wayne Brooke was born April 20, 1913 and died January 2, 1996. He graduated from Case Western Institute of Technology in 1935 with a Bachelor's of Science in Physics. He served in the United States Navy from 1942 to 1946 as an electronics officer. Brooke joined IBM soon after the war, and his early career at IBM was wholly involved with the Selective Sequence Electronic Calculator (SSEC) in the world headquarters of IBM in New York City. Brooke was the chief electronic engineer for the project and oversaw a team of engineers during the short life of the SSEC. He transferred to the Raleigh, N.C. IBM office in 1965 after the SSEC was dismantled and retired from IBM after 40 years of service in 1978. He remained involved in the history of computers throughout his life and was a member of various community organizations in the Raleigh area, including the North Carolina Arboretum, Raleigh Coin Club, Raleigh Stamp Club, and the Men's Garden Club.

The SSEC was invented by Wallace J. Eckert, Thomas Watson, and Ron Seeber and installed in IBM's world headquarters on Madison Avenue in New York City. The first day of operation of the SSEC was January 28, 1948, and it was shut down and dismantled in August, 1952. It contained 23,000 relays and 13,000 vacuum tubes, and at the time it was 1,000 times faster than its closest rival. It multiplied 14 decimal digit numbers in 20 milliseconds, and its first assignment was to calculate the positions of the moon from 1952 to 1971. By 1952, the SSEC was outdated by several new computers and was replaced by the IBM 701. It has been argued, by Brooke in particular, that the SSEC was the first electronic computer because of its unique stored-memory capacity.

Scope/content

This collection includes correspondence, writings, research notes, publications (by A. Wayne Brooke and others), photographs, and bound volumes. The primary subject of Brooke's papers refers to the Selective Sequence Electronic Calculator (SSEC) and the history of computing. Brooke was intrinsically involved with the daily operations of the SSEC during its short period of operation (1948 - 1952) and revisited the subject in the 1980s when the SSEC became a popular topic of debate in the computer industry.

Physical description

3 archival boxes, 2 flatboxes

Arrangement

The papers are divided into eight series with a bibliography appended. The Correspondence series consists of letters from two periods of A. Wayne Brooke's involvement with the Selective Sequence Electronic Calculator (SSEC). The first is during the period in which he worked on the SSEC, and the second was when he was preparing a manuscript detailing the importance of the SSEC to the history of computing.

The Writings series contains a draft of the unpublished manuscript detailing the importance of the SSEC to the history of computing. The Research Notes series contains notes and charts that refer to documents in the Writings series. As well, it contains Brooke's IBM Engineer's Notebook.

The bulk of the collection belongs to the series on the Selective Sequence Electronic Calculator. Contained in this series are oral interviews with the creators and staff of the SSEC, articles related to the electronic calculator, and newspapers and magazines that make reference to the machine. There are also several folders of photographs included in this series that depict the SSEC during its operation and the staff and later reunions. The series is organized by material, and then chronologically within those parameters.

Brooke also collected a wide variety of materials on the History of Computing. This series contains materials similar to the SSEC series but which pertain to the wider issues of the early years of the computing industry.

The Organizations series contains membership lists and other documents related to several computer and coin collecting groups attended by Brooke.

The small Miscellaneous series contains documents of various formats including a portrait of Brooke in his later years.

Walk East on Beacon , a 16 mm film, comprises the final series. It is most notable for this collection because it contains a scene that was filmed on location in the SSEC operations room.

Use of these materials

North Carolina State University does not own copyright to this collection. Individuals obtaining materials from the NCSU Libraries' Special Collections Research Center are responsible for using the works in conformance with United States copyright law as well as any donor restrictions accompanying the materials.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], A. Wayne Brooke Papers, MC 00268, Special Collections Research Center, North Carolina State University Libraries, Raleigh, NC

Source of acquisition

Donated by Thomas Brooke, 1999

Donated by Thomas Brooke, 1999.

Correspondence 1950-1986

This small series of six folders consists of correspondence between A. Wayne Brooke and various individuals connected to the SSEC project or the history of computers. It is arranged chronologically and refers to particular periods in A. Wayne Brooke's connection to the Selective Sequence Electronic Calculator (SSEC). The first folder (1950 - 1952) consists of internal IBM correspondence while Brooke was the chief engineer for the SSEC project. The next folder (1979 - 1980) refers to the unpublished manuscript "SSEC: The First Electronic Computer." The last folder in this series (1986) consists of correspondence between Brooke and Charles Bashe on issues directly related to the importance of the SSEC in the history of computing.

Correspondence 1950-1952
Box 1, Folder 1
Correspondence 1979-1980
Box 1, Folder 2
Correspondence 1981
Box 1, Folder 3
Correspondence 1982
Box 1, Folder 4
Correspondence 1983-1984
Box 1, Folder 5
Correspondence 1986
Box 1, Folder 6
Writings 1952-1984

This series contains both published and unpublished works by Brooke. The first folder contains a tear sheet from Electrical Engineering entitled Electron Tube Experience in Computing Experiment written by Brooke in 1952. The next two folders contain copies of the unpublished manuscript SSEC: The First Electronic Computer. The first is a clean copy while the second is heavily annotated by Charles Bashe (see Correspondence, 1982).

"Electron Tube Experience in Computing Equipment" February, 1952
Box 1, Folder 7
"SSEC, The First Electronic Computer" (1)
Box 1, Folder 8
"SSEC, The First Electronic Computer" (2)
Box 1, Folder 9
3 articles related to donations made to the Computer Museum : "Early Hollerith Tabulating Machine Counter" "Mercury Wetter Contact Relays" "IBM Wire Contact Relays"
Box 1, Folder 10
"SSEC Tube Life" 1952
Box 1, Folder 11
"Relay Life in the SSEC" 1952
Box 1, Folder 11
"The Hallowed 'Stored-Program Concept'" 1984
Box 1, Folder 11
"Pluggable Memory Unit" undated
Box 1, Folder 11
Research Notes

This series contains Brooke's IBMEngineer's Notebook as well as notes and charts that refer to documents in the Writings series.

IBM Engineer's Notebook
Box 1, Folder 12
Charts and notes for writings "SSEC Tube Life", 1952 "Relay Life in the SSEC", 1952
Box 1, Folder 13
Notes for the manuscript"SSEC, The First Electronic Computer"
Box 1, Folder 14
Selective Sequence Electronic Calculator

The largest series in the collection contains information related to the Selective Sequence Electronic Calculator. Brooke intended to publish a manuscript detailing the importance of the SSEC to the history of computing. Therefore, he collected both IBM and general information related to the SSEC. The first section of the series (folders 15 through 28) contains transcripts of oral interviews conducted by IBM with members of the SSEC staff. Two of the inventors of the SSEC, Wallace J. Eckert and Ron Seeber, appear in the collection. Several folders of published and unpublished IBM documents follow including the official announcement of the opening of the SSEC on January 28, 1948. The series also contains newspaper articles that refer to the SSEC or advertisements that feature the SSEC as a referent or a backdrop. Finally, this series contains pictures of the SSEC while in operation and reunion photos with, presumably, the original operating staff of the SSEC.

Oral History Interviews
Oral History Interview TC-1 (1): Wallace J. Eckert
Box 1, Folder 15
Oral History Interview TC-1 (2): Wallace J. Eckert
Box 1, Folder 16
Oral History Interview TC-1 (3): Wallace J. Eckert
Box 1, Folder 17
Oral History Interview TC-6: Ken Clark
Box 1, Folder 18
Oral History Interview TC-7 (1): Steve Dunwell
Box 1, Folder 19
Oral History Interview TC-7 (2): Steve Dunwell
Box 2, Folder 20
Oral History Interview TC-7 (3): Steve Dunwell
Box 2, Folder 21
Oral History Interview TC-7 (4): Steve Dunwell
Box 2, Folder 22
Oral History Interview TC-7 (5): Steve Dunwell
Box 2, Folder 23
Oral History Interview TC-8 (1): Rex Seeber
Box 2, Folder 24
Oral History Interview TC-8 (2): Rex Seeber
Box 2, Folder 25
Oral History Interview TC-9: Frank Hamilton
Box 2, Folder 26
Oral History Interview TC-30 (1): Joe Jeenel
Box 2, Folder 27
Oral History Interview TC-30 (2): Joe Jeenel
Box 2, Folder 28
Reunions
SSEC's Fourth Birthday Party, 1952 SSEC Twentieth Reunion, 1972
Box 2, Folder 29
Patent
SSEC Patent Information
Box 2, Folder 30
Internal IBM Material
Opening of SSEC (1) January 28, 1948
Box 2, Folder 31
Opening of SSEC (2) January 28, 1948
Box 2, Folder 32
Unpublished documents
Box 2, Folder 33
Published articles
Box 2, Folder 34
Published articles
Box 2, Folder 35
Articles
Published articles concerning the SSEC
Box 2, Folder 36
Newspaper articles: Opening Day January 28, 1948
Box 2, Folder 37
Newspaper articles 1948-1952
Box 2, Folder 38
Newspaper articles: Advertisements featuring SSEC
Box 2, Folder 39
Case Study
Uranium Fission November 16, 1949
Box 2, Folder 40
Photos
Early SSEC Photos
Box 2, Folder 41
Early SSEC Photos
Box 2, Folder 42
Reunion Photos
Box 2, Folder 43
History of Computing

This small series contains information on the early history of computers both by IBM and external sources. Newspaper articles and magazine articles, as well as scholarly articles, detail the technological origins of the computer revolution.

Internal IBM articles
Box 3, Folder 1
Published articles
Box 3, Folder 2
"Astounding Science Fiction" articles "Modern Calculators" "Electrical Mathematics"
Box 3, Folder 3
Newspaper articles
Box 3, Folder 4
Magazine articles
Box 3, Folder 5
Miscellaneous technological information
Box 3, Folder 6
Organizations 1950-1987

Brooke belonged to several computer clubs, as well as the Raleigh Coin Club. The first folder contains the minutes to the Raleigh Personal Computer Club meeting of March, 1986, at which Brooke presented a paper.

Conference on Electron Tubes for Computers 1950
Box 3, Folder 7
Digital Computer Museum 1984
Box 3, Folder 8
Raleigh Personal Computing Club 1986
Box 3, Folder 9
Raleigh Coin Club 1987
Box 3, Folder 10
Miscellaneous

This one-folder series contains an alumni article from Case Western Technological Institute concerning Brooke while he was employed on the SSEC, the film description of Walk East on Beacon, and a portrait of Brooke.

IBM Punch card
Box 3, Folder 11
"A Different Kind of Multiplication"
Box 3, Folder 11
Case Western Alumnae article
Box 3, Folder 11
Portrait of A. Wayne Brooke
Box 3, Folder 11
"Walk East on Beacon" film description
Box 3, Folder 11
"Walk East on Beacon"

Walk East on Beacon, a 16 mm film, produced in conjunction with the FBI, has a scene filmed on location in the SSEC operations room and in which Brooke appears as an extra. The film is based on a short story by J. Edgar Hoover entitled The Crime of the Century. In the film, Professor Kafer uses a high-speed calculator (the SSEC) to develop complicated theories that will affect the future of war. The original operating staff of the SSEC, including Brooke, appear as extras in one scene.

16 mm film

Reel 1
Unprocessed Materials Undated
Unprocessed Records Undated
Flat box 4
Unprocessed Records Undated
Flat box 5

Access to the collection

This collection is open for research; access requires at least 48 hours advance notice.

For more information contact us via mail, phone, or our web form.

Mailing address:
Special Collections Research Center
Box 7111
Raleigh, NC, 27695-7111

Phone: (919) 515-2273

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], A. Wayne Brooke Papers, MC 00268, Special Collections Research Center, North Carolina State University Libraries, Raleigh, NC

Use of these materials

North Carolina State University does not own copyright to this collection. Individuals obtaining materials from the NCSU Libraries' Special Collections Research Center are responsible for using the works in conformance with United States copyright law as well as any donor restrictions accompanying the materials.