Edward Murrow's "See It Now"—Jay Forrester and the Whirlwind Computer (1951) (Excerpt)

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PRESENTER: Hello, New York. Hello, New York. This is Cambridge, and this is the solar scope of the Whirlwind electronic computer. Since this computer was made in conjunction with the Office of Naval Research, why don't we switch down to the Pentagon in Washington, and let the Navy's research chief, Admiral Bolster, give Whirlwind a workout. What's your problem, Admiral?

ADM. BOLSTER: Well, Ed, this problem concerns the Navy's Viking Rocket. This rocket goes up 135 miles into the sky. Now, at the standard rate of fuel consumption, I would like to see the computer trace the flight path of this rocket, and see how it can determine, at any instance, the amount of fuel remaining.

PRESENTER: All right, Mr. Forester.

MR. FORESTER: All right, Admiral Bolster, we'll see what we can do. Let's look at the oscilloscope where the problem has been set up. Over on the left hand side, you will notice fuel consumption decreasing as the rocket takes off. And on the right hand side, there's a scale that shows the rocket velocity.

The rocket position is shown by the trajectory that you're now looking at, and as it reaches the peak of its trajectory, the velocity, you will notice, has dropped off to a minimum. Then as the rocket starts down, the velocity picks up again toward a maximum velocity when the rocket hits the ground. How's that?