Friends of the Library life member John F. Ptak has donated more than 600 seminal books and rare journal volumes to the Special Collections Research Center (SCRC). Concentrated in the history of computing and simulation, the Ptak donation provides cornerstone materials documenting the earliest developments in the history of computing and related disciplines such as linguistics, artificial intelligence, logic, machine translation, and electrical engineering. The collection also includes several books and journal articles documenting the formulation of simulation as a discipline of practice and research. The Ptak collection features materials from 1891 to 1987; the majority of the collection was published in the continental United States, but it also includes important works from Germany, France, Japan, and the former Soviet Union.
The history of computing is a primary collecting area for Special Collections and includes the papers of several NC State faculty members and of important scholars in the development of computer science, rare books, and seminal texts from the early and mid-twentieth century. Computing has its roots in the nineteenth century and Charles Babbage's Analytical Machine, but it came to maturity in the twentieth century out of the extensive research and development done during and after the two World Wars. The bulk of the material in the Ptak collection ranges from 1940 through 1965, capturing the most important eras in the history of computing research and development, that of World War II and post-World War II. Notable authors and organizations represented by the Ptak gift from these important eras include Carlo Arcelli, Yehoshua Bar-Hillel, Robert Baron, Gordon Becker, Harry Blum, Walter M. Elsasser, George E. Forsythe, J. K. Hawkins, Alton Householder, William Karush, Felix Klein, Clifford Maloney, Jacob Marschak, Franco Modigliani, Frederick Mosteller, Ulric Heinz von Foerster, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), Curtiss-Wright Corporation, General Electric, Hewlett-Packard, and IBM.
The Simulation Archive is another primary collecting area for the SCRC that has been developed in collaboration with and through the support of NC State faculty from the Department of Industrial Engineering. Combining elements of the history of computer science with those of industrial engineering, simulation arose as a discipline of research and practice during the 1940s, with many seminal works in simulation published from 1940 to 1965. Papers of pioneers in the history of simulation, including Robert G. Sargent, Julian Reitman, Richard Nance, and Alan Pritsker, are represented in the archive. The Ptak gift complements the existing set of papers by filling gaps with a number of rare and important books and conference papers in the history of simulation--adding momentum to an archive that is emerging as a premier source for researchers interested in the history of the field of simulation.
John Ptak is the retired proprietor of J. F. Ptak Books, Maps, and Prints in Georgetown, near Washington, D.C. The Ptak store specialized in used, rare, and antiquarian manuscripts, reprints, journals, maps, and prints in mathematics, the sciences, and the history of technology. He is a life member of the Friends of the Library and continues to partner with the Libraries in building its history of science collections. All materials are available in the SCRC through an individual XML-encoded finding aid and through the Libraries' groundbreaking Endeca catalog.
Raschke, Greg. "Building Momentum for History of Computing and Simulation Collections," NCSU Libraries Focus Online, 28:2 , Winter 2007.