John Warfield Exhibit

A New Direction - Computers

As an instructor at Penn State College, Warfield had the opportunity to participate in exciting new fields of research. In the early 1950's, computers were beginning to make their way into the mainstream. Warfield was one of the driving forces behind the development and creation of PENNSTAC - the Penn State Automated Computer. At right, Warfield consults a manual while working with computer equipment at the Penn State Computer Laboratory in the spring of 1954.

Professor as Student

Warfield's work in computers and circuitry pushed the edge of existing technology. He had completed his PhD in 1952, but still chased after new subjects to learn, and ways network with peers in the field. At right is a group photo taken at the "Short Course on Design of Digital Control Circuits," held in New Jersey in the late summer of 1953. Warfield can be seen in the third row, fourth from the right.

Complex Undertaking

The design of computers in the 1950's was complex, and undertaken without the sophisticated design tools in existence today. Circuit diagrams were sketched by hand, and mathematics were performed without the assistance of handheld calculators. This diagram for a "Fast Memory Switch" is one of a long series of hand-drawn wiring diagrams used to construct PENNSTAC. This drawing was initialled and approved by Warfield in August 1955.

A Working Computer

Computer design work was an exciting field with promise to revolutionize the future. Advances were followed closely by peers in the field, through publications such as the The Pennsylvania State Engineering Review. This Summer 1954 edition features Warfield on the cover, standing behind colleague H.I. Tarpley.

Revisiting Past Success

PENNSTAC was completed by 1956, and was put to use in a number of ways. One project worked with Pennsylvania farmers to determine crop yields. It served for many years, and was finally replaced in 1968. In March 1973, Warfield visited Penn State and posed for a photo with PENNSTAC, on display as a museum piece in the University's Electrical Engineering building.