Harry D. Huskey

2013 Fellow

For his seminal work on early and important computing systems and a lifetime of service to computer education

"There wasn't much time to think about it . . . It was very exciting because after the war (World War II) ended, lots of people began to know about electronic computers."

— Harry D. Huskey

Harry Douglas Huskey was born in 1916 in the Smokey Mountain area of North Carolina and grew up in Idaho. He received his Bachelor's degree at the University of Idaho, and his Master's and Doctorate (1943) from Ohio State University. He married Velma Roeth and they had four children.

His first job was teaching mathematics at the University of Pennsylvania as an assistant professor, largely to students of the U.S. Navy during World War II. Huskey applied for and won a job - with top secret clearance - working on the famed ENIAC system at Penn's Moore School. ENIAC was the first general-purpose computer, and Huskey is one of the last surviving members of the ENIAC team. He had heard about classified projects in the Moore School and decided to apply for a part-time job there. Since the project was classified, he did not find out until he got his clearance that he would be working on the ENIAC, which was the first general-purpose electronic computer.

After WWII, Huskey spent a year working at the National Physical Laboratories in England, where he led leading work on the ACE Test Assembly computer and working worked with Alan Turing. In 1950, he went on to design and manage the construction of the SWAC (National Bureau of Standards Western Automatic Computer) in Los Angeles, CA. After five years at the National Bureau of Standards, he joined the faculty of the Electrical Engineering Department at the University of California, Berkeley in 1954. While at Berkeley, he designed the G15, which was manufactured and sold by Bendix Aviation Corporation. The G15 was the first computer that could perhaps be called a “personal,” computer, since in that one person could operate it.

When the University of California, Santa Cruz opened, Harry Huskey took the offer to join the faculty there. As a professor there, he advised universities in many countries on how to develop an academic computer science program and also helped universities start their computer centers. He spent two years in India working at I.I.T. Kanpur and Delhi University, through the support of the Ford Foundation and USAID. With UNESCO support, he supplied technical support to the Yangon University in Burma (Myanmar). At the age of 70, he retired from the University of California. His wife, Velma, who co-authored many articles on computer history with Harry, passed away in 1991. In 1994 he was inducted as a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery.

His wife, Velma, who with him co-authored many articles on computer history, died in 1991. Harry Huskey married Nancy Grindstaff in 1994 until she too passed away, in 2015. Harry Huskey passed away on April 9, 2017, at the age of 101.


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