Conway's "Game of Life" ... when invented?

From: Buck Savage <>
Date: Mon Jul 26 00:32:22 1999

Now, cellular automata is my field. John von Neumann invented cellular
automata at the suggestion of Stanislav Ulam, when the two worked at the
Los Alamos National Laboratories in the 1940's. See von Neumann's work,
The Theory of Self-Reproducing Automata, and the book by Arthur Burks,
Cellular Automata.

John Horton Conway invented life as an alternative example of von Neumann's
work. There is also the cellular automata invented by E. F. Codd. The
game of life was first described in the October 1970 issue of Scientific

William R. Buckley

-----Original Message-----
From: Hans B Pufal <>
To: Discussion re-collecting of classic computers
Date: Sunday, July 25, 1999 6:55 PM
Subject: Re: Conway's "Game of Life" ... when invented?

> wrote:
>> I was wondering if anyone knows when John Conway invented "life". The
>> best I've found on the web is "1960s".
>> But...I just saw a movie, "Ocean's Eleven" (starring Frank Sinatra and
>> rest of the Rat Pack) ... and I'd swear that the start of the credits
looks a lot
>> like a run of life (i.e., several generations of display in the cellular
>> game) at the beginning, which then segues into pseudo-Vegas neon signs.
>> The movie is credited as being in 1960.
>>From < Game of Life>
>"In the early seventies, the only references to Conway's work were those
>originally given in Martin Gardner's "Mathematical Games" column in the
>October 1970 and February 1971 issues of Scientific American."
>I think that Conway developed the game just prior to its publication in
>Scientific American so seeing it in a film dated 1960 is unlikely. What
>you saw may have been a different cellular automatom, these were
>investigated if not discovered by von Neumann in the '50's.
>Hans B Pufal Comprehensive Computer Catalogue
><> <>
Received on Mon Jul 26 1999 - 00:32:22 BST

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