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Collection Guide
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Guide to the John C. McPherson collection
X3853.2007  
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Collection Overview
 
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Description
The John C. McPherson collection contains materials from McPherson's career at IBM, which lasted from 1930 to 1971. During his time at IBM, McPherson witnessed and participated in IBM's shift from punched card machines to electronic computers and, at the end of his career, became a key supporter of the programming language APL (A Programming Language). Materials include manuals, papers, and administrative records relating to APL; conference proceedings — including materials from the Joint Computer Conference, of which McPherson served as chairman in 1951; technical papers and articles written by McPherson, Kenneth E. Iverson, and others; IBM administrative records reflecting policies and projects spanning four decades; personal papers and correspondence, including letters between McPherson and Thomas J. Watson, Jr.; and manuals and books published by IBM, MIT, and the Harvard University Computation Laboratory. The records span 1921 through 1993, with the bulk of the collection being from 1950 to 1971.
Background
John C. McPherson was born in Short Hills, New Jersey, on October 16, 1908. He graduated from Princeton University in 1929, receiving a BS in electrical engineering. In 1930, McPherson started his long career at IBM, initially working as a trainee in its Railroad Department. McPherson worked in this department for seven years developing systems to provide statistics about the movement of freight and passengers, including a widely-used set of charts called Machine Methods for Railroad Accounting. In 1940, McPherson was promoted to Manager of Future Demands and from 1943 to 1946 he worked as IBM's Director of Engineering. During these years McPherson was instrumental in the establishment of a punched card computing facility at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds Ballistic Research Laboratory and also in planning the development of the IBM Selective Sequence Electronic Calculator (SSEC).
Extent
9.17 Linear feet, 7 record cartons and 1 manuscript box
Restrictions
The Computer History Museum (CHM) can only claim physical ownership of the collection. Users are responsible for satisfying any claims of the copyright holder. Requests for copying and permission to publish, quote, or reproduce any portion of the Computer History Museum's collection must be obtained jointly from both the copyright holder (if applicable) and the Computer History Museum.
Availability
The collection is open for research.