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Allan Olley
13 September 2018 @ 05:51 pm
Herbert Ruben John Grosch

September 13, 2018 marks the Grosch centenary, today would have been the hundredth birthday of Herbert Reuben John Grosch (1918 to 2010).

Grosch was a colourful figure in scientific and corporate computing, who began as an astronomer in the 1930s and worked in scientific and corporate computing into the 1980s and held senior positions such as president of the Association of Computing Machinery from 1976-1978. He was referred to by some as a gadfly of the industry, free with candid and caustic comments about industry developments and he also had strong opinions about the history of the field and historians.

I knew Grosch briefly near the end of his life when he moved to Toronto. I had begun working on my thesis on his colleague Wallace J. Eckert and he was always more than willing to talk with me and share his knowledge of Eckert and the computer field more generally. I have talked about Grosch before on the IT History Society blog. In October at a conference in St. Louis, I will be presenting a talk on his most famous contribution Grosch's Law, which related the speed of a computer to the economy (cheapness) of its operation. In this blog post I want to give a summary of some of the information in that talk, focusing on Grosch's own formulation and interpretation of the law. Grosch's LawCollapse )
Current Mood: nostalgicnostalgic