Herman Goldstine, Who Helped Build First Computers, Dies at 90
By WOLFGANG SAXON
Heine Goldstine, a mathematician who worked on the earliest electronic computers
and helped the military develop the famous Eniac, died on June 16 at his
home in Bryn Mawr, Pa. He was 90.
His death was announced by the
T. J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, N.Y., which renamed a postdoctoral
fellowship in the mathematical sciences in his honor.
Dr. Goldstine, a winner of the National Medal of Science, worked on the Eniac,
as the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer was code named, when
he was in the Army in World War II. He then became one of the chief scientists
of the International Business Machine Corporation for 26 years.
retirement, he followed his interest in putting science into the larger human
context as executive officer of the American Philosophical Society from 1984
In World War II, Dr. Goldstine was an ordnance mathematician
calculating artillery firing tables. When the War Department embarked on
a top-secret program to develop Eniac, the Army put him in charge of its
part of the project. The result had 18,000 vacuum tubes arrayed as number-crunching
machinery, measuring 30 by 60 feet and weighing 30 tons. It took 30 months
and 200,000 hours of work to contrive; the results were kept under wraps
until after the war.
After that, Dr. Goldstine pursued the new computer
science in academia and private industry. Born in Chicago, a lawyer's son,
he studied mathematics at the University of Chicago, receiving a bachelor's
degree Phi Beta Kappa in 1933, a master's degree in 1934, and a Ph.D. in
He taught at the University of Michigan but left when war broke
out to become a ballistics officer in the Army. He advanced to lieutenant
colonel and was awarded several medals, eventually being named to the Hall
of Fame of the Army Ordnance Department in 1997.
In 1946, Dr. Goldstine
joined the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton as a permanent member
and assistant project director of its electronic computer project. His work
contributed to the second-generation calculator built at the institute by
John von Neumann. Dr. von Neumann introduced it in 1952 as Edvac, for Electronic
Discrete Variable Automatic Computer.
Dr. Goldstine joined I.B.M.
as manager, later director, of mathematical sciences for research in 1958.
In 1965, he became director of scientific development for data processing.
Part of his responsibilities was to act as liaison between the academic community
and the company's research centers. After 1969, he was a scientific consultant
to the research director and an I.B.M. fellow.
Dr. Goldstine wrote
"The Computer From Pascal to von Neumann" (Princeton, 1972), "New and Full
Moons: 1001 B.C. to A.D. 1651" (Am. Phil. Soc., 1973), and "A History of
Numerical Analysis From the 16th to the 19th Century" (Springer, 1977).
Dr. Goldstine's first wife, Adele Katz, an Eniac programmer, whom he married
in 1941, died in 1964. He is survived by his wife of 38 years, Ellen Watson
Goldstine; a son and daughter from his first marriage, Madlen and Jonathan;
and four grandchildren.