John P. Nash Papers, 1949-1957. Finding Aid.
John P. Nash papers
Nash, John P. (John Purcell), 1915-
1 box (0.1
Collection contains reports relating to the
ILLIAC, ORDVAC, and the Digital Computer Laboratory, mimeographed lecture
notes, a small amount of correspondence, and articles, all relating to the
University of Illinois' computing activities. The articles and reprints include
a two-page article on an ILLIAC-generated music composition, a review of
computer progress for 1955 (by Nash), and an article with information about the
ILLIAC written in Japanese. Also included are ONR Task 30 records and ORDVAC
University of Minnesota Libraries.
Charles Babbage Institute.
Access and Use
The records were given to the Charles Babbage Institute by Kenneth W.
Kolence in 1984.
Access to the collection is unrestricted.
CBI holds the copyright to all materials in the collection, except for
items covered by a prior copyright (such as published materials). Researchers
may quote from the collection under the fair use provisions of the copyright
law (Title 17, U.S. Code).
John P. Nash Papers (CBI 14), Charles Babbage Institute, University of
John P. Nash was a faculty member of the University of Illinois'
Digital Computing Lab, which oversaw the development of the university's first
two computers, the ORDVAC and ILLIAC. Nash received a Ph.D. in mathematics at
Rice University (1940), taught at Notre Dame, and worked as a physicist for the
Kimberly-Clark Corporation before coming the University of Illinois in
Work on both Illinois computers had begun in 1949. The ORDVAC was
constructed under contract for the U.S. Army to be located at the Aberdeen
Proving Ground. The ILLIAC remained at Illinois and was the focus for work at
the Digital Computing Laboratory. Nash served as an applied mathematician for
the lab, and supervised research in numerical analysis under contract for the
Office of Naval Research. Nash also taught early computer courses, including
Mathematics 385, "Digital Computer
Programming," an introductory course that utilized the ILLIAC.
Nash left the university in 1956 to join Lockheed Aircraft
Corporation, where he eventually served as vice president and assistant general
manager of the Research and Development Division.
Collection Scope and Content Note
The collection contains reports relating to the ILLIAC, ORDVAC, and
the Digital Computer Laboratory, mimeographed lecture notes, a small amount of
correspondence and articles, all relating to University of Illinois computing
activities. In addition, there are articles and reprints on: ILLIAC-generated
music composition, a review of computer progress for 1955, and an article with
information about the ILLIAC written in Japanese. A file on the Digital
Computer Laboratory includes reports and on the curriculum, staffing, use, and
facilities of the lab, as well as information about the use, order code, and
operation of the ILLIAC. Mathematics 385 materials include lecture notes that
are mimeographed, as well as typed hand-outs on different aspects of computer
programming. ONR Task 30 materials contain progress reports and an application
for extension of a research project in numerical analysis that was supervised
by Nash. ORDVAC Progress Reports contain information about the general status,
design, testing, and personnel of the Army project.
- This collection is indexed under the following headings in the catalog
of the University of Minnesota Libraries. Researchers desiring materials about
related topics, persons, or places should search the catalog using these
- Nash, John P. (John Purcell), 1915-
- University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign campus). Digital
- United States. Office of Naval Research.
- Computer music.
- Illiac computer.
- Ordvac computer.
Box and Folder List
Articles and Reprints, circa 1956. Box 1, Folder 1
Digital Computer Laboratory, 1953-1957. Box 1, Folder 2
Mathematics 385 Lecture Notes, undated. Box 1, Folder 3
Office of Naval Research Task 30 (Numerical Analysis),
1950-1955. Box 1, Folder 4
ORDVAC Monthly Progress Reports, Nos. 1-29, 1949-1951. Box 1, Folder 5