Japanese Computer Pioneers

Nishino HirojiNishino Hiroji

Nishino Hiroji was born at Hiroshima City on 21st March 1924.

He graduated from the Electrical Engineering Department of Osaka University in September 1947.

Immediately after his graduation, he engaged in Bureau of Electric Power, Ministry of Commerce & Industry (later MITI), and one year later moved to the governmental Electrotechnical Laboratory (ETL) of the same Ministry. In ETL’s Materials Division, he investigated theory of dielectric properties of insulating materials and methods of their measurement for six years. In 1954, he moved to the newly established Electronics Division of ETL, and since then, he has been doing researches on computers.

In 1956, he and his colleagues developed the first transistor computer in Japan, ETL Mark III, with point-contact transistors and supersonic delay lines made from optical glass. It aimed at realizing a transistor computer, and not a practical computer. Incidentally, it would be probably the first stored program transistor computer in the world. In 1957, they developed another computer, ETL Mark IV, with junction transistors and a magnetic drum memory. It became a model of commercially available computers adopted by several Japanese computer manufacturers: NEC, Hitachi, Matsushita Communication and Hokushin Electric. In 1960, Nishino and his colleagues developed a special purpose computer, ETL Mark IV B, to execute input and output operations independently of the master computer, ETL Mark IV A. Both computers exchange information by interruption mechanism. Later, this organization came to be commonly used as channel structure for large computers. From 1961 to 1966 Nishino had a prime responsibility in developing a high-speed and large-scale computer, ETL Mark VI, which was the last computer hand-made within ETL.

From 1966 to 1972 as one of project managers, he supervised a super-high speed computer development that was one of National R&D Projects. It is believed that this project gave substantial effects upon Japanese computer industry .

In 1974, he was awarded the Prime Minister Prize of Japanese Industrial Technologies for his achievements in the development of the super-high speed computer and its far-reaching effects. From 1972 to 1980 as the project manager, he developed the Pattern Information Processing System (PIPS) as another National R&D Project. PIPS took an initiative in promoting recent multi-media information processing technologies.

In1980 he entered the field of education of information technology, and worked in a national university, University of Tsukuba for seven years, and in a private university, Tokyo University of Technology for another seven years. In 1994, he was awarded with the Order of the Sacred Treasure with Neck Ribbon. In 1995, he retired from Tokyo University of Technology as its Head and Professor of Information Technology Dept. Nishino is Professor Emeritus of Tokyo University of Technology.

Nishino died on November 23, 2010.

(As of Apr. 1, 2004)