from the piecing-together-the-beginning-of-computers dept.
A reader writes: "Central Europe Review is running an article on a gulag-condemned Soviet scientist whose contribution to the first computer is virtually unknown because of the Cold War mentality that infected much of society on both sides of the Iron Curtain.
The story tells of how in 1937, American digital computer pioneer John Atanasoff came across a Myhailo Krawtchouk paper on a new method for finding approximate solutions to differential equations. Atanasoff tried sending a letter to him, but received no response. Krawtchouk had been attainted for giving a favorable review of the work of "enemies of the people" and shipped to Siberia for 20 years of gold mining, where he died four years later. Krawtchouk's biography gives a more detailed account of how Krawtchouk was labeled a "Polish spy" and "Ukrainian nationalist," stripped of his Academy of Sciences membership, and forced to sign a confession -- that he later retracted -- under torture and threats upon his family.
"We Americans, we're a simple people... but piss us off, and we'll bomb
-- Robin Williams, _Good Morning Vietnam_