Oral history interview with Antonín Svoboda

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Oral history interview with Antonín Svoboda

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Charles Babbage Institute


Oral History


Svoboda describes his research on computing in Czechoslovakia, France, and the United States. He begins by discussing his early career: his electrical engineering education in Prague, the differential analyzer he built for the French during World War II for fire control, and his work in New York for the ABAX Corporation on Bofort anti-aircraft guns. He explains how MIT became interested in his work on linkage computers for aiming guns automatically and describes the two-part linkage computer system he built for them, the OMAR and the Mark 56. On his return to Czechoslovakia in 1948, the Research Institute of Mathematics asked Svoboda to develop computing machines, and funded his visits to major digital computer projects. He recounts visits to Harvard, the Institute for Advanced Study, and the University of Pennsylvania. In 1951 he began work on Czechoslovakia's first (electromechanical) digital computer, the SAPO, and its successful completion despite interference from the Communist government. He also mentions the EPOS computer he built in Czechoslovakia in the early 1960s. Svoboda describes his escape to the U.S. in 1964 and his appointment at UCLA. He concludes by assessing his greatest contributions: the use of graphical and mechanical means to teach logical design, the solution of multiple output optimization, and the Boolean analyzer (a parallel processing unit on Boolean algebra).


Transcript, 144 pp. Audio file available at http://purl.umn.edu/94953

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Antonín Svoboda, OH 35. Oral history interview by Robina Mapstone, 15 November 1979. Charles Babbage Institute, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. http://purl.umn.edu/107664

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Svoboda, Antonín. (1979). Oral history interview with Antonín Svoboda. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy, https://hdl.handle.net/11299/107664.

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