Hewitt D. Crane (1927–2008) was an American engineer best known for
his pioneering work at
SRI International on ERMA (Electronic Recording
Machine, Accounting), for Bank of America, magnetic digital logic,
neuristor logic, the development of an eye-movement tracking device,
and a pen-input device for computers.
1 Early life and career
2 Later career
3 Memberships and awards
5 External links
Early life and career
Crane was born in 1927 in Jersey City, New Jersey. After a stint in
United States Navy
United States Navy as a radar technician during World War II, he
worked as a computer maintenance technician for
followed by working on digital computer design under the leadership of
John von Neumann
John von Neumann at the Institute for Advanced Study, in Princeton,
New Jersey (IAS is not affiliated with Princeton University).
He then developed magnetic multiaperture devices (MADs) at RCA
Laboratories (now Sarnoff Corporation). In order to develop magnetic
logic, Crane controlled the direction of bit flow in magnetic ferrite
memory cores. Ferrite logic circuits are inherently more stable
than vacuum tubes and transistors, draw no power when unused, and are
impervious to electromagnetic interference. In 1959, Crane introduced
the all-magnetic logic approach at the Fall Joint Computer Conference,
eventually leading to a demonstration of the world's first
all-magnetic computer in 1961. The technology was soon commercialized
by Aircraft Marine Products (AMP) Inc., under license from SRI, and
used primarily in the rapid transit system of
New York City
New York City and at
railroad switching yards, where electro-magnetic interference made
electronic computers unfeasible. The development and growth of planar
transistors in silicon chips and integrated circuits displaced
magnetic core logic, although it may still be useful for extended
space missions and other extreme conditions, but using integrated
circuit manufacturing techniques (e.g. etching and deposition of a
substrate, and not an assembly of discrete magnetic cores). The
prototype of the first all-magnetic computer now resides at the
Computer History Museum, in Mountain View, California.
Douglas Engelbart worked with Crane on magnetic logic devices
beginning in 1957, before Engelbart moved on to work on hypermedia
and augmenting the human intellect with computers, and before Crane
began research on replicating human functions with digital computers.
In addition to his engineering work at SRI, Crane cofounded
Communication Intelligence Corporation (CIC), to commercialize
computer-based handwriting recognition on graphics tablets. CIC's
"Jot" handwriting recognition software was later acquired by Palm and
renamed Graffiti 2.
Assorted bottles from Ridge, the winery co-founded by Crane.
Ridge Winery, which was co-founded by Hewitt Crane.
In 1959, with fellow SRI engineers David Bennion, Charles Rosen, and
Howard Zeidler, Crane co-founded Ridge Vineyards. One of its red wines
placed fifth in the Judgment of Paris wine tasting.
Crane's last intellectual effort was promoting the use of a cubic mile
of oil as an energy measure, and development of a manuscript on issues
related to energy development, in collaboration with
SRI-International colleagues: Ed Kinderman, and Ripudaman Malhotra.
Crane died from complications of
Alzheimer's disease on June 17, 2008
at his home in Portola Valley, California.
Memberships and awards
Crane was named an
IEEE Fellow in 1968.
^ a b Markoff, John (2008-06-21). "Hewitt D. Crane, 81, Early Computer
Engineer, Is Dead". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-04-01.
^ "SRI Technology: All-Magnetic Logic". SRI International. Retrieved
^ "Magnetic memory makes logic TRN 100803". Retrieved
^ Markoff, John (2005). What the Dormouse Said. Penguin. p. 70.
^ G. Taber The Judgment of Paris: California vs France pg 181-182
Simon & Schuster ISBN 0-7432-4751-5
^ "IEEE Spectrum: Joules, BTUs, Quads-Let's Call the Whole Thing Off".
^ Crane, Hewitt; Edwin Kinderman; Ripudaman Malhotra (June 2010). A
Cubic Mile of Oil. Oxford University Press USA.
^ "Awards to Staff by Professional Societies". SRI International.
Home page/Curriculum Vitae at SRI
SRI Timeline of Innovations: All-Magnetic Logic
SRI Fellows Awards: 1980 – 1989
SRI Timeline of Innovation: Banking Automation: ERMA