John Von Neumann Born On This Day In 1903
Written by Historian   
Monday, 28 December 2015

Neumann János Lajos was born in Budapest, Hungary on December 28, 1903. His family later changed his name to the German form, Johann von Neumann. In 1930 after accepting a position at Princeton University as a guest lecturer for one year he stayed on and became a citizen of the USA, affectionately known as Johnny Von Neumann.



John Von Neumann,

December 28,1903 - February 8, 1957

Von Neumann is perhaps the first computer age polymath. He seemed to be capable of getting involved in just about any subject. Not content with inventing game theory, cellular automata and putting down the foundations of quantum mechanics, he invented the computer architecture we use most often today. 

If you know even a little about computer design you will have come across the term "Von Neumann architecture" probably in the context of what a big problem it is and how we need something better to make computers work faster. For this reason you may think that John Von Neumann got it wrong but in fact in all the years that have passed no-one has come up with a more generally acceptable way of organising a computer.

Not only did Von Neumann come up with the only sensible organisation for a modern computer, he pioneered many of the great ideas of AI, game theory and many biological aspects of computing - yet he was a mathematician and produced all sorts of important mathematical work from Hilbert spaces and operator theory to continuous geometry. He was the sort of mathematician who managed to use his mathematics to understand the way things worked. He provided the foundations of modern quantum mechanics and even contributed to quantum computation.

If you scan the various computer history articles on IProgrammer you will discover that Von Neumann turns up in so many places that it seem unbelievable that this is the work of one man. 


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Last Updated ( Monday, 28 December 2015 )