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Communications of the ACM

The profession of IT

The Atlas Milestone

Tom Kilburn at the Manchester Atlas computer console

Credit: University of Manchester

Virtual memory is a technology of computer systems architecture that is as old as academic computer science and has affected the careers of many computing professionals. We take this opportunity celebrate it as a milestone of computing, recognized by the recent IEEE Milestone award to the University of Manchester, where it was invented in 1958.

First, some background. The IEEE is the world's largest technical society with over 430,000 members in 160 countries. The IEEE Milestones program was established in 1983 to recognize the achievements of giants who advanced the electrical and electronics profession around the world. Each IEEE Milestone is recognized by a bronze plaque mounted at the location of the achievement. The IEEE website lists 224 milestones awarded since 1977, of which 35 milestones are associated with computing.a


Dwight Sanderson

And what a legacy for Denning's invention, the working set. He modestly describes it without attribution.

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