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Wang

Principles of magnetic core memory

An Wang (1920-1990) immigrated to the U.S. from his hometown of Shanghai in 1945, and three years later earned a Ph.D. in applied physics from Harvard University. In 1951 he founded Wang Laboratories, Inc., which under his technological and managerial guidance soon became one of the most recognized and successful corporations of the dawn of the Information Age.

Although he personally gained more than 35 patents, Wang's first major contribution to information technology was his invention of the magnetic "Pulse Transfer Controlling Device" (patent #2,708,722, granted 1955). By precisely regulating the flow of magnetic energy, Wang made magnetic core memory a practical reality. In 1965, Wang introduced "LOCI," the first desktop computer to generate logarithms at a single keystroke. The technology of LOCI formed the basis of the later Wang electronic desk calculator.

In the 70s and 80s, Wang's own inventions helped Wang Laboratories become a major manufacturer of the prototypical desktop computers used in laboratories and schools. Throughout those years, Wang oversaw an uninterrupted series of more compact and efficient instruments and systems for use in office automation and information processing.

An Wang was also a noteworthy philanthropist, whose efforts and funds continue to foster the arts and sciences, especially in and around the city of Boston. At his death in 1990, Wang had left behind him a substantial cultural and technological legacy.

[Nov. 1996]

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