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In memoriam: Louis A. Fein.


Louis A. Fein

Louis A. Fein, one of the pioneers in the field of digital computing, died in Palo Alto, California, on September 18, 1987.

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y, on October 1, 1917, Fein received his B.S. from Long Island University in 1938. He worked on sonar systems at the Harvard Underwater Sound Laboratory in World War II and received his Ph.D. in physics from Brown University in 1947. He subsequently joined Raytheon, where he helped develop the RAYDAC computer for the Naval Air Missile Test Center at Point Magu, California. Completed in 1953, the liquid freon-cooled RAYDAC contained 5,200 vacuum tubes, used acoustic delay-line memory and magnetic tape storage, and was one of the first digital computers to use error detection on all operations.

Fein was the founder and president of Computer Control Corporation and spent many years as an independent computer consultant. In recent years, he continued to be active as a Visiting Scholar at Stanford University.

Fein was ahead of his time in recognizing the need for computer science to be taught as a unified academic discipline, In a little known report to Stanford in October, 1957, he recommended that the University create a "Graduate School of Computer Science" with a "Computer Department for teaching and research in programming and computational models, model making, automatic programming, logic, computer organization, computer Mathematics, computer theory, and component and circuit research." Many of these ideas were later published in his paper "The Computer Related Sciences (Synoetics) at a University in the Year 1975" in the June 1961 issue of The American Scientist.

Although "Synoetics" was never accepted as the name for computer science and Fein's influence is not widely known, his ideas have since been adopted throughout the world, A warmhearted man of incorruptible integrity, Fein will be greatly missed by his many friends and colleagues.

Richard Duda

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Title Annotation:General news and notes
Author:Duda, Richard
Publication:Communications of the ACM
Date:Jan 1, 1988
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