v 6.40.00
19 Dec 2022
updated 21 Dec 2022

From earliest times the belief has persisted that to name something is to objectify it, to make it real and to give it independent existence. This can get philosophers and theologians into all sorts of contortions, but in the altogether humbler realm of computer programming, the naming of a program gives it an authenticity, a distinct personality quite as individual as its original author. It's no longer just 'his' program, it's GALATEA (or whatever). This is even more important in a case of cooperative authorship and development. And if the program in question is expected to exhibit artificial intelligence, then a proper human name such as Multivac or HAL becomes appropriate.

This is of course mere blarney, and quite beside the point, which is of course that every self-respecting program should have an acronymic name (even HAL was acronymic in a sense, being an alphabetic shift of IBM). But why an acronym, one might ask. It's because

ACRONYM = A Clever Ruse, Optimally Naming Your Masterpiece

And so the program that has been an ever-present reality for me since the early 1970's, but to everybody else (apart from Joe Gerratt himself) was and is a bit of a mystery, was most appropriately officialised, but not quite acronymically, as

ENIGMA = ElectroNic InteGrals for Molecules and Atoms

So where is ENIGMA now (apart from my yellowing compilation listings)? Did it ever get backed-up to magnetic tape or even transcribed to PC-compatible format? And if so, does it still survive in either format? And still readable? I am actively investigating such possibilities, but there's not much of a clue so far. You might like to bookmark this page to follow the narrative ...