Vannevar Bush

Vannevar Bush (1890 to 1974) was an engineer, the head of the U.S. Office of Scientific Research and Development during World War II, and the founder of Raytheon (among other things).

the Differential Analyzer

While at MIT he developed a hundred-ton proto-computer (the Differential Analyzer), which could solve equations with great rotating gears, shafts, and wheels.

In the newspapers it was being called a "mechanical brain" or "thinking machine" a typical headline declared:

"Thinking Machine" Does Higher Mathematics; Solves Equations That Take Humans Months

An offshoot of this work at MIT was the beginning of digital circuit design theory by one of Bush's graduate students, Claude Shannon. Working on the analytical engine, Shannon described the application of Boolean algebra to electronic circuits.

After a stint working on military application Bush went on to publish his landmark work As We May Think that described in detail his vision for The Memex.