Other Notable Deaths


June 22, 2008


Early computer engineer

Hewitt D. Crane, an early computer expert, died Tuesday of complications from Alzheimer's disease at his home in Portola Valley, Calif., said his wife, Suzanne Crane.

Mr. Crane's career followed the arc of the early computing industry, starting in 1949 with a job at IBM's headquarters in New York City, where he was involved in the maintenance of an early IBM computer composed of 13,000 vacuum tubes and 25,000 relays.

In 1952, he went to work at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J., where he participated in a modification of the von Neumann computer, or JOHNNIAC, named for mathematician John von Neumann. Working with a team assembled by von Neumann, Mr. Crane's first task was to redesign the input-output system to accommodate IBM punch-card technology.

Later in his career, he pursued ideas like eye-tracking and optical character recognition.

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