Japanese Computer Pioneers

Noguchi ShoichiNoguchi Shoichi

Noguchi Shoichi was born on March 5, 1930. He is one of the most important pioneers in the development of computer sciences, computer systems and computer networks. His first contribution in computer science was the establishment of the theoretical background on algebraic and cellular automata theory. The main research works were the characterization and unification of automata by the algebraic theory with Masunaga Yoshifumi and other colleagues. Next was the proof of the completeness of the one dimensional cellular automata with Harao Masateru and other colleagues. By these theoretical works, he established the School of Tohoku University with his colleagues in the field of the algebraic automata theory in the world.

His second contribution to the computer system was the development of a large-scale parametron computer Sendai Automatic Computer 1(SENAC-1) in late 1950s. Parametron is a logic element invented by Goto Eiichi in 1954. This development was a joint effort of Tohoku University and NEC Corporation. Though Noguchi was a Ph. D. student of Tohoku University, he joined the project as the member of the university. He worked together with Ishii Yoshiteru, Watanabe Hitoshi and others at NEC and took a major role as a project member of the university to complete SENAC-1 in 1960. SENAC-1 was the largest computer in Japan at that time. It was a 48-bit binary machine with a floating point arithmetic function. It introduced advanced architectures such as advanced control, pipeline control, and common bus control systems using more than 10,000 parametrons. These design concepts are ones that are up-to-date and have been widely applied to today’s computers. The research and development of parametron computers indirectly impacted on the research of majority decision logic in Japan.

One of Noguchi’s most significant theoretical research contributions to computer systems was a theoretical analysis of time-sharing systems jointly developed with Sakata Masato. This research was the first of its kind in the world. At the same time, they introduced a space-sharing concept based on the time-sharing theory. In addition, Noguchi took an important role in developing computer networks. From 1985, serving as the head of the Tohoku University Large Computer Center, Noguchi promoted the research and development of computer networks mainly with the members of large computer centers at seven national universities in Japan. On the other hand he completed Tohoku University Academic/All-round/Advanced Information Network System (TAINS). This was the first large-scale academic network in Japan. Later Noguchi promoted many research projects based on the research budgets given by the Ministry of Education. These projects include Japan Academic Inter-University Network (JAIN), and they contributed greatly to the progress in researches on networks such as the Internet in Japan.

After retiring from Tohoku University in 1993, Noguchi served as a professor of Nihon University and was appointed President of Aizu University in 1997. He has been serving as Chairman of Sendai Foundation for Applied Information since in April 2001. He also served as President of the Information Processing of Japan from 1995 to 1997.

(As of June 29, 2006)