Gertrude Blanch, who received her PhD in mathematics from Cornell, begins the interview with her recollection of the origins and her role in the Mathematical Tables Project in New York City. She became the director of mathematics and the manager of the computation. In 1943, the project became part of the Applied Mathematics Panel of the Office of Scientific Research and Development and Cornelius Lanczos became involved. In 1947, the project was transferred to the National Bureau of Standards in Washington DC. Blanch was invited to come to the Institute for Numerical Analysis at UCLA and served as assistant director and leader of its computing division. She worked with several directors, including Douglas Hartree, J. Barkley Rosser, and Derrick Lehmer. The computing she supervised was done principally on the IBM Card-Programmable Calculator. In 1949, a computer development team was building the SWAC, but according to Blanch it never really worked. In 1954, NBS closed the Institute and Blanch took a job at Electrodata Corporation and later at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, where she worked on problems related to Mathieu functions. She retired in 1969.
Key words: Mathematical Tables Project, Mathieu functions, IBM CPC, SWAC
Funding agency: Work Projects Administration, National Bureau of Standards, U.S. Air Force
Time frame: 1940's, 1950's, 1960's
People: Arnold Lowan, Milton Abramowitz, Irene Stegun, Ida Rhodes, Lyman Briggs, Cornelius Lanczos, Douglas Hartree, J. Barkley Rosser, Derrick Lehmer
Locations: New York City, Institute for Numerical Analysis, UCLA, Electrodata Corporation, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base
Copyright: Computer Oral History Center, Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation http://Invention.Smithsonian.Org/Resources/Fa_Comporalhist_Index.Aspx
Smithsonian National Museum of American History