Nicholas (Nick) Metropolis

Born June 11, 1915, Chicago, Ill; developer and implementer of the MANIAC system at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory.

Education: BS, University of Chicago, 1937; PhD, physics, University of Chicago, 1941.

Professional Experience: research associate, University of Chicago, 1941; research associate, Metallurgy Laboratory, and instructor, Columbia University, 1942; Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory: research associate and group leader, 1943-1946, consultant, 1946-1948, member, staff, and group leader, 1948-1957; University of Chicago and Enrico Fermi Institute of Nuclear Studies: professor of physics, 1957-1965, director, Institutional Computer Research, 1958-1965; Los Alamos National Laboratory: member, staff, 1965-1980, senior fellow, 1981-1985; senior fellow emeritus, 1985-present.

Honors and Awards: Computer Pioneer Award, IEEE Computer Society, 1984; fellow, American Physics Society; fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Nick was a staff member of the atomic-bomb project at Columbia University in 1942 and returned to Chicago during 1942-1943 to work on the university's metallurgy project. He was at Los Alamos on the Manhattan Project in 1943. After World War II he taught at the University of Chicago in the Physics Department as an assistant professor of physics, and also at the Enrico Fermi Institute of Nuclear Sciences at Chicago, returning to the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory (LASL) in 1948 as group leader. During this second visit to Los Alamos he directed the construction of the MANIAC computer, a variant of the IAS machine designed by John von Neumann. From 1957 to 1965 he once again returned to Chicago, where he served as professor of physics and director of the Institute for Computer Research at the University of Chicago. He returned to LASL in 1965 and was appointed a senior fellow in 1980. He became a senior fellow emeritus in 1985, and was the 1992 Oppenheimer Memorial Lecturer.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Biographical

MacKenzie, Donald, "The Influence of the Los Alamos and Livermore National Laboratories on the Development of Computing," Ann. Hist. Comp., Vol. 13, No. 2, 1991, pp. 179-202.

Metropolis, Nicholas, and E.C. Nelson, "Early Computing at Los Alamos," Ann. Hist. Comp., Vol. 4, No. 4, Oct. 1982, pp. 348-357.

Metropolis, Nicholas, "The Los Alamos Experience, 1943-1954," in Nash, Stephen G., A History of Scientific Computing, ACM Press History Series, New York, 1990, pp. 237-250.

Significant Publications

Metropolis, N., and J. Worlton, "A Trilogy of Errors in the History of Computing," Proc. USA Japan Computing Conference, First, Tokyo, October 3-5, 1972, AFIPS, Montvale, NJ., 1972, pp. 683-691; reprinted in Ann. Hist. Comp., Vol. 2, No. 1 Jan. 1980, pp. 49-59.

Metropolis, N., J. Howlett, and Gian-Carlo Rota, A History of Computing in the Twentieth Century, Academic Press, New York, 1980.

Metropolis, N., "The MANIAC," in Metropolis, N., J. Howlett, and Gian-Carlo Rota, A History of Computing in the Twentieth Century, Academic Press, New York, 1980, pp. 457-464.

Metropolis, N., "The Age of Computing: A Personal Memoir," Daedalus, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1991, pp. 119-130.

UPDATES

Nicholas Metropolis died October 17, 1999 (MRW, 2012)

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