Japanese Computer Pioneers

Kaneda HiromuKaneda Hiromu

Kaneda Hiromu was born on November 13, 1921. He graduated from the Department of Electric Engineering, School of Engineering of Kyoto Imperial University in 1944, and then he joined NEC Corporation. He achieved many successes in research and development on carrier multiplex telegraph, time division multiplex communications and other related technologies. For these achievements, Kyoto University conferred a degree of Doctor of Engineering on him in 1960.

Around 1957 when the practical transistors had only recently become available, Kobayashi Koji and Degawa Yujiro of NEC recognized the success of the transistor computer ETL Mark IV developed in the ElectroTechnical Laboratory (ETL) as a chance to go into the computer business. Thus, Kaneda started the design of the transistor computer NEAC 2201, under the instruction of Takahashi Shigeru and others from the ETL. It was the beginning of the development of "general-purpose computers" at NEC. As soon as the NEAC 2201 was completed in September 1958, it was installed in the computation center of the Japan Electronic Industry Development Association (JAIDA).

With this success of NEAC 2201, demands for EDPS (Electronic Data Processing System) arose in PCS (Punched Card System) users. To meet these demands, Kaneda continued to develop the NEAC 2203 system, and completed it in 1959 as a practical business data processing system, which comprised of magnetic tape memory units, large capacity magnetic drum memory units, punched card input/output units, and line-printers, and had the ability of multiplex operation of these peripheral units. The amount of sales orders received for the NEAC 2203 at the end of FY1960 was 23 systems, totaling 1.5 billion yen, which was a surprising amount in those days. For this development, Kaneda together with Miyagi Yoshio received a Technical Development Award of the Academic Promotion Awards from the Institute of Electrical Engineers of Japan (IEEJ) in May 1961. The seat reservation system for Kinki Nippon Railway Corporation which he developed mutually with NEAC 2203 was launched in April 1960.

Furthermore, he successively developed high grade computer systems, NEAC 2206 and 2230, in February 1962. Thus he succeeded in realizing up-grade expansion of systems and broadening customer range.

NEC formed a computer technology tie-up with Honeywell in 1962. Due to respective differences in business policies, however, development of the large scale models and their operating systems were executed independently in NEC. Thus, Kaneda directed the development of large scale computers NEAC 2200/500, 2200/700 and the time sharing systems (TSS). NEAC 2200/500 was completed in 1966 as the world's first large scale computer fully consisting of monolithic ICs, and began the first TSS service in Japan at the Computer Center of Osaka University in 1967.

Appointed a member of the board at NEC in 1974, and senior vice president in 1978, Kaneda was responsible for technology development and business of NEC's information processing group as one of the top managers until his retirement in 1980. During this period, he promoted the development of the new computer series ACOS77, contributed to NTT's DIPS project, established the computer business in the U.S.A., among other accomplishments.

Kaneda died on May 26, 2000.

(Miyagi Yoshio)