1: Reconsidering the Stored Program Concept


The first in a three-part series appearing in IEEE Annals, this article gives a historical explanation of the endemic confusion surrounding the stored-program concept. After a detailed investigation of the history of this idea, the authors propose three more precisely defined alternatives to capture specific aspects of the new approach to computing introduced in 1945 by John von Neumann and his collaborators.

Thomas Haigh, Mark Priestley & Crispin Rope, “Reconsidering The Stored Program ConceptIEEE Annals of the History of Computing 36:1(January-March 2014): 4-17.

Comments Received:

“I have just finished reading your paper “Reconsidering the Stored-Program concept” — what a fine piece of academic work. In the past, I too was wandering about the origins of the term ‘stored program’ (apart from the “First Draft”) but while I was just thinking about it, you have found time and co-authors to do that.”
Zbigniew Stachniak, York University.

“…nothing less than the kind of analysis you have provided will do justice to the technical, cultural, tribal and historical tangle. What astonished me when I first puzzled about this several years ago was that no one had sought to provide any satisfactory account of what was paraded widely as the defining feature of the modern computer. Or indeed to ask the question….Terrific that you are dismantling this tangle in such an historically responsible and admirably accomplished way. Really very fine.” Doron Swade MBE, author of The Cogwheel Brain.

“I read the article in awe of your scholarship. You and your colleagues have done a fantastic job and I suspect that your efforts will be highly valued as a major contribution to our knowledge of early computing and the origins of the discipline.”
Tim Bergin, former Editor in Chief of IEEE Annals of the History of Computing


Making and Remaking the Modern Computer