Milestone in Engineering


Photo of Milestones in Engineering plaque from 2001. In this photo the plaque is at its original location on the corner of Stewart St. and S. Patterson Blvd.

The Second Reunion of the veterans of the U.S. Naval Computing Machine Laboratory in Dayton in October, 2001, celebrated the designation of Building 26 as a IEEE Milestone in Engineering. The nomination, written by Debbie Anderson, was backed and submitted to the IEEE (the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers) by the local section, especially through the efforts of Jack Cannon. NCR provided assistance in obtaining the granite boulder and bronze plaque. They were also the hosts of our ceremony, held next to Building 26, and the reception following at Sugar Camp.

At the same ceremony, a tribute written by U. S. Representative Tony Hall was entered into the Congressional Record. Read it here.

These are the remarks made by Dr. Earl Swartzlander, representing the IEEE History Committee, at the dedication ceremony:

I’m really pleased to be here, representing the Board of Directors and the membership of the IEEE. I guess I should tell you first that IEEE is the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, an organization of about 350,000 engineers around the world, and this organization has identified, at this point, 43 Milestones in the history of engineering and computing.

Of the 43 Milestones, most of them are located within the Unites States–there are, I believe, 13 located outside the United States–and some of the Milestones related to the development of radio and television; some relate to the Transatlantic cable and telegraph system; there are a number that relate to power and creating power plants and companies. There are three that, to me, are very special: those are the three that relate to computers.

Of the three that relate to computers, one was for work that was done in Iowa developing a small experimental machine in 1939. There was another one for the ENIAC, which was the giant computer that everyone sees pictures of as being one of the early computers. But this one is really much more special than the others, and the reason is that this Milestone is commemorating a series of machines that were built, not just a single, one-of-a-kind toy that was built and was stuck into a laboratory and never seen again.

But this activity created production machines that were used to really shorten the war. That’s such a significant accomplishment. It’s unfortunate that, because of the classification, it’s being recognized so late but it’s good that we’re finally getting around to it.

So on behalf of the Board of Directors of the IEEE and the membership I’m really honored to say thank you to all of you for your great work.

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  • Inside You’ll Find…

    WHO worked during the war? Find the Personnel section. Also, Joseph R. Desch
    WHAT were their goals? By the Numbers. Also, The US Bombe
    WHY? History of the Bombe Project A contemporary account of the reasons and the plans for their project for the Director of Naval Communications, 1944.
    WHERE was the project: In Dayton, it was in Building 26. In Washington, it was housed at the Naval Communications Annex