This interview describes Bloch's work at the Harvard Computation Laboratory and his subsequent career in computing. Bloch begins with his early life through his undergraduate degree in mathematics at Harvard. He entered the Navy in 1943 and recounts how he first met Howard Aiken while giving him a tour of the Naval Research Laboratory. Aiken had him transferred back to Harvard just as the Mark I was being shipped from IBM, where Bloch was involved with programming and maintenance of the machine. He describes the architecture and operation of the Mark I, including a discussion of the improvements made after the machine arrived at Harvard. He also discusses a number of the problems solved on Mark I, including one for von Neumann on spherical shock waves in an atomic implosion. He also describes Aiken's personality and attitude toward computer commercialization.
In 1947 Bloch left Harvard for Raytheon, eventually heading their computer division. He discusses the government RAYDAC and commercial RAYCOM computers, as well as his own contributions to the development of parity checking. Raytheon sold its computer division to Honeywell in 1955, and Bloch became director of computer product development there. He describes the 200, 400, and 800 series of Honeywell computers, the development of an error detection machine which he claims opened the field of fault tolerant computing, and competition in this period between IBM and Honeywell. In 1968 Bloch joined General Electric as division general manager to develop large computer systems to compete with IBM. When GE left the computer field, Bloch moved into private work on venture capital, acquisition-divestiture, and high-level corporate consulting in the computer industry. He recounts how he became chief executive officer of Artificial Intelligence Corporation, a company developing a product to use natural English to query databases.
Richard M. Bloch, OH 66. Oral history interview by William Aspray, 22 February 1984, Newton, Massachusetts. Charles Babbage Institute, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. http://purl.umn.edu/107123http://purl.umn.edu/107123
Transcript, 43 pp. Audio file available at http://purl.umn.edu/95107
Bloch, Richard M. (Richard Milton).
Oral history interview with Richard M. Bloch.
Charles Babbage Institute.
Retrieved from the University of Minnesota Digital Conservancy,
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