FIRST EDITION OF SWITCHING THEORY IN SPACE TECHNOLOGY, INSCRIBED BY EDITOR HOWARD AIKEN TO COMPUTER PIONEER RUTH DAVID AND ADDITIONALLY INSCRIBED BY AIKEN'S CO-EDITOR, WILLIAM F. MAIN
AIKEN, Howard and MAIN, William F., editors. Switching Theory in Space Technology. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 1963. Octavo, original blue cloth, original dust jacket. $2800.
First edition of this fascinating collection of 25 papers on the use of logic circuits in space technology, inscribed by editor Howard Aiken to a famous computer pioneer: "To Ruth Davis with best regards from Howard Aiken," and additionally signed by co-editor William F. Main.
This series of 25 papers was originally delivered at a 1962 symposium on the applications of switching theory to space technology. "The papers were intended to present a broad range of topics in order to briefly describe the current state of the art in a manner that would be most useful to the theoretician and applied scientist" (IEEE). Author and physicist Howard Aiken designed IBM's Harvard Mark I in order to solve the differential equations used in physics. The Harvard Mark I was installed in 1944, allowing it to be used to solve mathematical problems for the Manhattan Project. It became the prototype for future supercomputers, including several designed by Aiken: the Harvard Marks II-IV. This copy is inscribed to Ruth Davis, "a pioneer in satellites and computers" (National Academy of Engineering). Davis earned a PhD in mathematics in 1955, becoming the first to do so at the University of Maryland. Davis had initially hoped to secure employment at IBM, but was told that they were only hiring women as secretaries. Therefore, she began a career in the Navy, where she wrote some of the earliest computer code for naval nuclear reactors, eventually founding the Navy's Command and Control Technology Organization at age 27. Seeking new opportunities, Davis continued her work in government organizations, before eventually taking a position as director of the NBS Institute for Computer Sciences and Technology and then at HEW National Center for Biomedical Communication. Her experience saw her named as Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Advance Technology and later Assistant Secretary of Energy for Resource Applications. Davis' work had a long reach and she was involved in the US Uranium Enrichment Services, the Strategic Petroleum Reserves, the Federal Power Marketing Administrations, and the Naval Petroleum Reserves. "Ruth Davis initiated major projects that had significant impact on the industrial, governmental, and academic sectors of our country. They included the Very-High-Speed Integrated Circuit (VHSIC) Program sponsored by industry and the Department of Defense (DOD; 1979–1980); the DOD Directed Energy Program (high-energy lasers and particle beams) (1977–1979); the world's first data encryption standard (DES) for non-defense computer systems (1972–1979); the first satellite communications system for remote healthcare applications in Alaska (1967–1970); the online computer network for medical literature retrieval, MEDLINE (1967–1970); and the first computer-based automation or robot-systems support by the federal government (1964–1967)" (National Academy of Engineering). After retiring from federal service at age 52, Davis founded a company focused on "industrial modernization strategies and technology development, with concentrations in microelectronics, computers, information, automation, and robotics" (National Academy of Engineering. She also taught at several prestigious universities. Bookplate of Ruth Davis. Books inscribed by Aiken are quite rare, making this presentation copy even more desirable.
Book fine, dust jacket extremely good with a bit of wear to extremities and closed tear along spine. A rare inscribed and signed copy with outstanding provenance.