3,500 Cortada Collection Books
Charles Babbage Institute

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Now in Public Eye: 3,500 Books from

the Cortada Collection

In 2009 CBI received four large book collections that, together, boosted our volume count to approximately 10,000.  In an earlier CBI Newsletter article, we noted the treasures that existed in the Erwin Tomash (CBI 75), Michael Mahoney, Carl Machover, and James Cortada book collections.  With support from the University of Minnesota Libraries we have been able to move these valuable volumes squarely into the public eye.  Once, you needed to know that a certain book existed in the Mahoney or Cortada collection; then you could look it up specifically — in that collection.  Now, users across the university and around the world can discover and gain access to these volumes through the university’s catalog.  The result is more work for us, since (as CBI archivist Arvid Nelsen reports) the increased visibility has already resulted in a noticeable uptick in requests.  The Cortada collection is now cataloged, the Tomash collection is in process, and the Mahoney and Machover collections are in the cataloging queue.

The best thing is that you don’t need to know “what specifically” is in the Cortada collection to be able to discover it.  But, just in case, here is a set of tantalizing tidbits from a wide collection that Jim Cortada assembled from his own shelves and IBM technical libraries:

algolThese range literally from “A to Z” . . . Michael Abbey and Michael J. Corey’s ORACLE 8 - A Beginner’s Guide (1997) through to Edward J. Zoll’s Logic: A Programmed Text for Two-Valued and Three-Valued Logics (1968).  The earliest book might be Richard Courant and Herbert Robbins’s What is Mathematics? (1941). Another early gem is Gordon S. Brown and Donald P. Campbell’s Principles of Servomechanisms (1948).

Many special titles on notable topics, such as  . . . Paul W. Abrahams and Bruce A. Larson’s UNIX for the Impatient (1992) . . . Dr. Dobb’s Toolbook of C (1986) . . . Federal Electric Corporation on Logarithms (1972) . . . Richard Y. Kain on Automata Theory: Machines and Languages (1972).  And who can resist Ned Snell on Teach Yourself the Internet in 24 hours (1998)?

Even a few famous authors, such as . . . Franz L. Alt on Electronic Digital Computers (1958) . . . Gordon Bell on Computer Structures (1971) and Computer Engineering: A DEC View of Hardware Systems Design (1978) . . . Edsger Dijkstra’s Primer of ALGOL 60 Programming (1962) . . . A.P. Ershov and D.E. Knuth’s Algorithms in Modern Mathematics and Computer Science (1981) . . . Bernie Galler and Alan Perlis’s View of Programming Languages (1970) . . . Marvin Minsky on Semantic Information Processing (1968) . . . Nils J. Nilsson on Learning Machines (1965) . . . Willis H. Ware on Digital Computer Technology and Design volumes 1 and 2 (1963).

Researchers will find 30 ACM conference volumes . . . 55 volumes of Bell System Technical Journal (1940s though 1980s) . . . 50 IBM publications on diverse topics . . . 106 volumes of SHARE Proceedings (1950s through 1970s).

unixAny of these volumes can be located through the main University of Minnesota’s catalog at <https://www.lib.umn.edu/>.  If you search for “Unix … Impatient” you get the catalog entry: UNIX for the Impatient, Available at TC Andersen Library Babbage Institute (Cortada) (QA76.76.O63 A27 1992 ).  A quick consultation with us can deliver the volume to your impatient hands.

Upstairs we have around 2,000 volumes in our reference collection in the CBI office suite.  “Where is there room for an additional 10,000 volumes?” you might be thinking.  The Cortada, Mahoney, Machover, and Tomash book collections are safely stored downstairs in our climate-controlled caverns.  Arvid Nelsen is taking these volumes out of the usual archival boxes and installing them in book trays on the cavern shelves.  The books remain in optimal storage conditions while gaining global visibility. 

Thomas J. Misa


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