IBM's NORC

Naval Ordnance Research Calculator

NORC's fame was extended literally out of this world when astronomer Dr. Paul Herget, Director of the Cincinnati Observatory, arranged to name an asteroid discovered in 1953 for the computer. (The asteroid NORC revolves around the Sun once every 5.6 years in an orbit between Mars and Jupiter.) Under Dr. Herget's direction, and the sponsorship of the Office of Naval Research and the National Science Foundation, the earthbound NORC was used to compute the orbits of celestial bodies, including the most precise orbit of the Earth for the 1920-2000 period. In discussing one of NORC's accomplishments in May 1956, Dr. Herget said: "We used nine hours of running time and completed more computations than had ever before been done at one time in the history of astronomy."

NORC's place in the computer chronicles is also assured by its relative longevity. Not only was NORC the world's most powerful computer for several years but it also continued to provide useful service well into the System/360 era in the late-1960s.

You can learn more about this remarkable machine on the occasion of its Golden Anniversary by visiting the NORC Reference room


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