Computer architecture and theoretical computer science have different roots. Architecture grew out of projects begun in the 1940s to design high-speed electronic computing machines able to complete elaborate sequences of operations without human intervention. Its symbolic founding text is John von Neumann's 1945 "First Draft of a Report on the EDVAC,"a though early computer builders relied more directly on a series of lectures and reports disseminated the next year. Theoretical computer science grew from an academic desire to theorize about the fundamental characteristics and capabilities of automatic computing. The theoretical foundation of computer science was laid during the late-1950s and 1960s using intellectual materials scavenged from different fields. Alan Turing's 1936 paper, "On Computable Numbers, With an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem" provided the most prominent building block. In it, Turing introduced a definition of computability based on the operations of imaginary automata.
Popular imagination only has room for one "great man" per invention, and Turing's prominence in computer science has created a market for arguments that he must therefore have invented the computer itself. The fact that Turing and von Neumann knew each other has led to considerable speculation about the possible influence of Turing's paper on von Neumann's architectural approach. Yet no hard evidence has yet come to light showing that von Neumann had read or appreciated Turing's paper during the crucial period from early 1945 to mid-1946.
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