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Although the calculating technologies available through the 1930s served business and scientific users well, during World War II they were not up to the demands of the military, which wanted to break codes, prepare firing tables for new guns, and design atomic weapons. The old technologies had three shortcomings: they were too slow in doing their calculating, they required human intervention in the course of computation, and many of the most advanced calculating systems were special purpose rather than general-purpose devices.
Because of the exigencies of the war, the military was willing to pay whatever it would take to develop the kinds of calculating machines it needed…
Also beginning in the nineteenth century and reaching maturity in the 1920s and 1930s was a separate tradition of analog computing [e.g. punched card tabulating]. Engineers built simplified physical models of their problems and measured the values they needed to calculate. Analog computers were used extensively and effectively in the design of electric power networks, dams and aircraft.
Computer, Martin Campbell-Kelly et al., p. xii
In the summer of 2015 I was contacted by an author interested in the stories of the Sugar Camp WAVES–one of my favorite topics. Now their story as well as that of the WACS at Arlington Hall is available and wonderfully successful.
“Code Girls is an extraordinary book by an extraordinary author. Liza Mundy’s portraits of World War II codebreakers are so skillfully and vividly drawn that I felt as if I were right there with them—mastering ciphers, outwitting the Japanese army, sinking ships, breaking hearts, and even accidentally insulting Eleanor Roosevelt. I am an evangelist for this book: You must read it.”
author of The Good Girls Revolt – Lynn Povich