Alan Turing's Electronic Brain: The Struggle to Build the ACE, the World's Fastest Computer

Front Cover
OUP Oxford, May 24, 2012 - Mathematics - 576 pages
The mathematical genius Alan Turing, now well known for his crucial wartime role in breaking the ENIGMA code, was the first to conceive of the fundamental principle of the modern computer-the idea of controlling a computing machine's operations by means of a program of coded instructions, stored in the machine's 'memory'. In 1945 Turing drew up his revolutionary design for an electronic computing machine-his Automatic Computing Engine ('ACE'). A pilot model of the ACE ran its first program in 1950 and the production version, the 'DEUCE', went on to become a cornerstone of the fledgling British computer industry. The first 'personal' computer was based on Turing's ACE. Alan Turing's Automatic Computing Engine describes Turing's struggle to build the modern computer. The first detailed history of Turing's contributions to computer science, this text is essential reading for anyone interested in the history of the computer and the history of mathematics. It contains first hand accounts by Turing and by the pioneers of computing who worked with him. As well as relating the story of the invention of the computer, the book clearly describes the hardware and software of the ACE-including the very first computer programs. The book is intended to be accessible to everyone with an interest in computing, and contains numerous diagrams and illustrations as well as original photographs. The book contains chapters describing Turing's path-breaking research in the fields of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Artificial Life (A-Life). The book has an extensive system of hyperlinks to The Turing Archive for the History of Computing, an on-line library of digital facsimiles of typewritten documents by Turing and the other scientists who pioneered the electronic computer.

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.


from concept to reality
12 Applications of the Pilot ACE and the DEUCE
13 The ACE Test Assemblythe Pilot ACE the Big ACEand the Bendix G 15
14 The DEUCEa users view
15 The ACE Simulator andthe Cybernetic Model
16 The Pilot Model and theBig ACE on the web
Part IV Electronics
17 How valves work

Early programming efforts
Part IITuring and the History of Computing
5 Turing and the computer
6 The ACE and the shaping of British computing
7From Turing machine to electronic brain
8 Computer architecture and the ACE computers
Part IIIThe ACE Computers
9 The Pilot ACE instruction format
10 Programming the Pilot ACE
18 Recollections of early vacuum tube circuits
19 Circuit design of the Pilot ACE and the Big ACE
Part VTechnical Reports and Lectures on the ACE194547
20 Proposed electronic calculator 1945
21 Notes on memory 1945
22 The TuringWilkinson lecture series 19467
23The state of the art in electronic digital computing in Britain and the United States 1947

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2012)

Jack Copeland is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, where he is Director of the Turing Archive for the History of Computing. His books include The Essential Turing, Colossus: The Secrets of Bletchley Park's Codebreaking Computers, Alan Turing's Automatic Computing Engine, Logic and Reality: Essays on the Legacy of Arthur Prior (all with Oxford University Press), and he has published more than 100 articles on the philosophy and history of computing, and mathematical and philosophical logic.

Bibliographic information