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    Re: HO 214 History
    From: Peter Monta
    Date: 2021 Oct 30, 04:01 +0000
    Hi John,

    In John Karl's book "Celestial Navigation in the GPS Age" he mentions a few times that HO 214 was tabulated using the first digital computers starting in 1936. I have not been able to find any evidence that there were any digital computers prior to 1940.  Where did John get that information? Is he on this list? Does anyone have any further information on the history of the creation of HO 214?


    This probably refers to electromechanical computation using punched cards and tabulators. L. J. Comrie pioneered scientific computation using this style of machine, and he was also head of the Nautical Almanac Office.  I don't know whether these techniques were used to compute sight-reduction tables (probably they were), but certainly punched-card computation was used for lunar ephemerides.

    As for "first digital computer", well, the punched-card systems were only semiautomatic and were not Turing-complete, so I think we do have to wait for something like ENIAC or Konrad Zuse's Z1.

    Cheers,
    Peter


       
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