Moline Memories - MHS 66 Friends

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Forget Bix Beiderbecke - The Electronic Computer Was Invented in the Quad-Cities - At a Rock Island Roadhouse

The Atanasoff-Berry Computer, known as the ABC, was invented in 1937 and ignored by Iowa State, Ames.
Few people realize John Vincent Atanasoff invented the electronic computer, because his plans were copied by another scientist and marketed eventually as the Eniac.

John V. Atanasoff was a remarkable scientist who did valuable work for the US during WWII.

As an applied physics professor at Ames, Iowa, he was looking for ways of doing math calculations, the most laborious part of his work. He kept thinking about it and trying various methods for years. Meanwhile, others were working on a calculating device.

One December day in 1937 he took off in his car and drove to relax and think about the solution. He crossed the Mississippi:

"I had reached the Mississippi River and was crossing into Illinois at a place where there are three of which is Rock Island. I drove into Illinois and turned off the highway into a little road, and went into a roadhouse, which had bright lights...I sat down and ordered a drink...As the delivery of the drink was made, I realized that I was no longer so nervous and my thoughts turned again to computing machines." Jane Smiley, The Man Who Invented the Computer, The Biography of John Atanasoff, Digital Pioneer, p. 2.

During this stop in Rock Island he thought of four basic concepts to make a computer work. He wrote down his ideas on a napkin, went back to Ames, and asked for funding for this project. He received $200 for parts and $450 to pay his assistant, an exceptionally able Clifford Berry.

The computer worked, so when John Mauchley found out about it, he visited Ames, stayed at the Atanasoff home, took copious notes, asked all about the machine, and stole the idea. Sperry Rand owned the patent rights, because Ames did not pursue the patent case as it should have. Also, Atanasoff seemed especially naive about Mauchley's early intentions. One reason was - everyone but Mauchley ignored him.

The apparent murder of Berry, never solved, made Atanaoff much more involved in the difficult case of overturning the patents owned by Sperry Rand. In 1973, the judge in the federal case gave the credit to Atanasoff and took away Sperry Rand's claims.

Others made significant contributions to the invention of the computer. One method was used to help crack Enigma during WWII, in England. Konrad Zuse, a German scientist, did astonishing work, but he was ignored by the Nazi military.

The first computers were destroyed. The original ABC was taken apart because it was using up valuable space at Ames. The future head of computer science at Ames took it apart. The ABC was later rebuilt for a small fortune!

The English computer was destroyed to hide the evidence about how they read the German Enigma messages in WWII.

Konrad Zuse had his early computers bombed by the Allies in WWII.

Atanasoff will never get a Nobel Prize, because he did not submit a paper for publication, a requirement of the committee. He died in 1995.

John Vincent Atanasoff

Let's quote the Iowa State University Associate Professor of Physics John Hauptman opinion about Atanasoff:
"I came here from Berkeley," Hauptman said. "You know Berkeley must have 20 Nobel prizes and they are proud of them; poets, physicists, chemists... When I found out Atanasoff's story and read his paper... It occurred to me that if Atanasoff had been at Berkeley in 1939 (with the Atanasoff-Berry Computer) he would have gotten a Nobel prize right away. Berkeley would not have waited a minute before going after a Nobel Prize and becoming known as the birthplace of the electronic digital computer. Here at Iowa State, it was just dropped."

Friday, November 19, 2010

Personal Notes on the Whiffenpoofs

Lawrence Eyre was at the Whiffenpoof celebration.

Lawrence Eyre:
I sang at the Whiffenpoof centennial celebration last fall in New Haven. There are several Youtube postings of the 600+ (out of 800 living) Whiffs belting out the Whiffenpoof Song, led by the now octogenarian youngest daughter of one of the founding 1909 Whiffs--a poignant, powerful moment for all of us.

Over the last century, it's been a traditional honor each year for one member of the group to sing the two-word solo in the Whiffenpoof song--"then we'll" ("...pass and be forgotten with the rest.") for the Whiffs of 1970, I was that guy. At Yale reunions, "then we'lls" seek each other out; there's no special handshake, but we do share a bond. I will try to email you the 1970 Whiffenpoofs' version of the Whiff song so you can hear the 'world's shortest solo' for yourself.

There is an all- century cd, Whiffenpoofs: a virtual concert, that draws on 1200+ songs recorded as far back as 1915. The cd includes "one minute more"--one of my solos from the 1970 Whiff album.

When I started singing in the Moline Boys' choir, I had no idea it would lead to such lifelong joy.


The Whiffenpoof Song

To the tables down at Mory's, to the place where Louis dwells
to the dear old Temple Bar we love so well
sing the Whiffenpoofs assembled, with their glasses raised on highand the magic of their singing casts its spell
The origins of The Whiffenpoof Song can be traced to a 1907 winter trip by the Yale Glee Club, when two of the group's founding members created a humorous adaptation of the Rudyard Kipling poem, "Gentleman Rankers." Upon the conclusion of the song's premiere at Mory's Temple Bar, the singers declared it their anthem, "to be sung at every meeting, reverently standing." In the hundred years since, each class of Whiffenpoofs has sung The Whiffenpoof Song at the end of every concert as a celebration of brotherhood and tradition. The song has been recorded by Rudy VallĂ©e, Bing Crosby, Elvis Presley, Louis Armstrong, and countless others.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Lawrence Eyre Can Sing for His Supper Again

Whiff Lawrence Eyre can sing for his supper again, as he once did, as a member of the Whiffenpoof Club.

The club of Old Blue tradition is open again. How successful is the reincarnation? Our team of reviewers finds out.

Mory’s, that Old Blue bastion of college clubbiness,communal drinking, and (historically) mediocre food, is back from the dead. After years of declining membership and financial strain under a costly labor contract, the club closed in 2008 and fired its employees. Its signature prime rib, Welsh rarebit, and Indian pudding vanished from New Haven.

This summer, Mory’s reopened its doors, boasting a $3.1 million renovation, a new chef, a bar, and much more liberal membership policies. Previously, Mory’s was for Yale students, alumni, and faculty only. The new Mory’s welcomes Yale Rep theatergoers, members of the New Haven Chamber of Commerce, and all university employees, among other groups. Annual dues, which had been rising in recent years, have been lowered. (Students can pay $5 for a membership lasting their whole Yale career.) The goals, says Mory’s president Christopher Getman ’64, are to boost membership and make Mory’s the tradition of a new generation of Yalies. And also: solvency.

The students now have a bar open past nine, the faculty cheaper lunches and fees, the Whiffs a table large enough to seat their whole group, the traditionalists a few Mory’s favorites still on the menu. But will they come? We assembled a crack team of reviewers to scope out the new club. They tell us how the food compares with New Haven’s gourmet scene (and the dining halls), whether the bar is worthy of your birthday party, and how well the decor lives up to the Mory’s of nostalgia.


Rudy Vallee's first major hit--a bit of Yale whimsy given national popularity by the charismatic crooner.

(words Meade Minnegerode; tune attributed to Tod Galloway)

To the tables down at Mory's,
To the place where Louis dwells,
To the dear old Temple Bar
We love so well,

Sing the Whiffenpoofs assembled
With their glasses raised on high,
And the magic of their singing casts its spell.

Yes, the magic of their singing
Of the songs we love so well:
"Shall I, Wasting" and "Mavourneen" and the rest.

We will serenade our Louis
While life and voice shall last
Then we'll pass and be forgotten with the rest.

We are poor little lambs
Who have lost our way.
Baa! Baa! Baa!
We are little black sheep
Who have gone astray.
Baa! Baa! Baa!

Gentlemen songsters off on a spree
Doomed from here to eternity
God have mercy on such as we.
Baa! Baa! Baa!

Much more from Wiki:

The Whiffenpoof Song was published in sheet music form in 1909. It became a hit first for Rudy Vallee in 1927 and later in 1947 for Bing Crosby. It has also been recorded by Elvis Presley, Count Basie, Perry Como, the Statler Brothers and countless others. Mory's refers to Mory's Temple Bar and Louis to a former owner of Mory's. The chorus is derived from the poem "Gentlemen Rankers" by Rudyard Kipling, which was set to music by Guy H. Scull (Harvard '98) and adapted with lyrics by Meade Minnigrode (Yale '10).

The chorus was also used in the movie 12 O'Clock High with Gregory Peck. It can be heard being sung in the background after the unit receives its first unit commendation.


The Yale Whiffenpoofs are the oldest collegiate a cappella group in the United States, established in 1909.[1] Best known for "The Whiffenpoof Song," based on a tune written by Guy H. Scull (Harvard 1898) and adapted with lyrics by Meade Minnigerode (Yale 1910). the group comprises senior men who compete in the spring of their junior year for 14 spots.[3] The business manager and musical director of the group, known in Whiff tradition respectively as the "Popocatepetl" and "Pitchpipe"[4] are chosen by members of the previous year's group, although an alumni organization maintains close ties with the group.

The Whiffenpoofs have performed for generations at a number of venues, including Lincoln Center, the White House, the Salt Lake Tabernacle, McAfee Coliseum, Carnegie Hall and the Rose Bowl. The group has also appeared on television shows such as Jeopardy!, The Today Show, Saturday Night Live, 60 Minutes, Gilmore Girls and The West Wing.

Throughout the school year, the Whiffenpoofs traditionally perform Monday nights at Mory's, known more formally as "Mory's Temple Bar," circulating from room to room singing.

The Whiffs' best-known alumnus may be Cole Porter, who sang in the 1913 lineup of the Whiffenpoofs when he was a student at Yale. Today the group often performs Porter songs in tribute.

The Whiffenpoofs donate part of their proceeds each year to the Whiffenpoof Children's Literacy Initiative, which aims to create 15 literacy centers in 12 countries, including the US. They travel extensively during the school year and take a three-month world tour during the summer. At one time most members were full-time students, but today many members take all or part of the year off and are effectively full-time professional Whiffenpoofs.

The word "whiffenpoof" originated in the 1908 opera Little Nemo by Victor Herbert, based on the comic strip Little Nemo in Slumberland by Windsor McCay.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Message from the Reunion Committee, Class of 1966 - The Class the Stars Fell On

AET class - this is an obvious Photoshop, since I was 21 during Woodstock.

Judy Marsh Ramsay MHS

Class 1966: 

"I'm starting to update the class list, so if you have a new
address or email list or know someone we are looking for, please send

Dave Coopman Reports on His Latest Book about Our Area

Dave Coopman, '66:
"Here's an update on Quad City International Airport (or as G. Jackson refers to it, "The Plane Truth")... the manuscript is finished, the images have been chosen, the layout is complete, and it was all shipped off to the publisher Thursday. If it's like the other two books I did for Arcadia, it will probably be available in April or May, 2011. I'll keep you posted."