Simon and Newell Collections Offer Look at Early AI Research

Allen Newell

Carnegie Mellon has been a leader in the field of artificial intelligence from the very beginning. For researchers interested in diving into the history of AI, the University Libraries is home to a number of historic documents relating to the field, including the Herbert A. Simon Papers and the Allen Newell Collection.

Widely known as two of the “founding fathers'' of artificial intelligence, Simon and Newell were instrumental in the creation of the university’s first computer science degree program in 1961, and the establishment of its Computer Science Department in 1965. They began working together at the RAND Corporation, continuing their partnership at the Carnegie Institute of Technology, and went on to win the Association for Computing Machinery’s A.M. Turing Award in 1975. The University Archives holds extensive records of their groundbreaking work.

The Herbert A. Simon Papers
Simon’s research interests were the very definition of interdisciplinary, extending from computer science and artificial intelligence to economics, administration, and cognitive psychology. He began his career at the University of Chicago, where he earned his bachelor’s degree and Ph.D. in Political Science, and spent time at the University of California, Berkeley and the Illinois Institute of Technology. He won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1978, the National Medal of Science in 1986 and many more honors for his work. At Carnegie Mellon, Simon had a role in the formation of the Graduate School of Industrial Administration (now the Tepper School of Business), the School of Computer Science, and the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social SciencesDepartment of Psychology.

The Herbert A. Simon Papers include scientific papers by Simon and others; project reports and research proposals; lecture materials, book and paper drafts, publications and journal article reprints; analog copies of early programs developed by Simon, and records of his many chess matches against both humans and machines; personal papers and awards, including his 1978 Nobel Prize; and external correspondence, CMU interoffice memoranda, e-mail, student papers, and research materials.

Herb Simon
Herb Simon in front of an early computer

The Allen Newell Collection
Newell is known for his pioneering work in artificial intelligence, human cognition, and the development of computer software and hardware for complex information processing. He studied at Stanford and Princeton before pursuing a doctorate in Industrial Administration at the Carnegie Institute of Technology, where he later became a professor. His research and growing reputation were key in attracting and renewing National Institute of Mental Health grants for cognitive science research in the Department of Psychology, as well as Department of Defense grants to support cognitive science and artificial intelligence research.

The Allen Newell Collection includes scientific papers, project reports, manuals and proposals by Newell, his CMU colleagues, and others; computer programming instructions, printouts, and cognitive experiment data; teaching materials and student files containing papers and correspondence; lecture materials and conference information; publications and journal article reprints; and external correspondence, CMU interoffice memoranda, and e-mail printouts.

Much of both of these collections have been digitized and can be found online in the Libraries Digital Collections. The rest of the physical collections are available in the Archives for use by researchers.

Allen Newell

by Sarah Bender, Communications Coordinator