Southern Connecticut Science Fair
Grand Award for "Algebraic Computer" 1959


Peter J. Denning

Peter J. Denning received the Grand Award at the Southern Connecticut Science Fair in April 1959, for his "Algebraic Computer". The photo shows him with his computer, certificates, and trophies.


"NOT AS SIMPLE AS IT LOOKS -- Grand Award winner Peter Denning, Fairfield Prep junior, poses with his algebraic computer. Equations are solved on the electrical instrument by pressing buttons which electrically rotate a disc wheel to the correct answer."


April 12, 1959

Top awards at the Southern Connecticut Science Fair yesterday went to Peter Denning, 17, of Darien, a Fairfield Prep junior, and Ronald Zissell, 16, of Trumbull, who is a sophomore at Central High School.

More than 600 persons were on hand at the gym of the University of Bridgeport's technology building for the final session of the two day fair.

Peter Denning's prize winning exhibit was an electric computer that solves algebraic equations. Peter designed it himself and built it "from scratch" from various odds and ends, including parts of a pinball machine. The correct answer to an equation is obtained by pushing a series of buttons. These control electric relays which stop a revolving disc at the correct number.

Peter, son of Mr and Mrs James Denning, of Brushy Hill Road, Darien, is president of the Science Club at Fairfield Prep. An honor student, he won a trophy award in the senior division of the Science Fair last year for his "digital computer." He plans to study some branch of engineering after high school.

Ronald Zissell, the other top award recipient, designed a working model of a rocket motor propelled by the high voltage of electrons, to show another possible mode of spaceship travel. Two discs, rotating in opposite directions, cause a friction which forces the electrons out of the end of the motor, on much the same principle as a jet engine.

The son of Mr and Mrs Everett Zissell, of 24 Gwendolin Drive, Trumbull, Ronald hopes to study electrical engineering upon his graduation from high school. An honor student, he is interested in astronomy as a hobby and is a boy scout with life rank.

Both boys will enter their exhibits at the New England Science Fair, May 1 and 2, at Brown University, Providence, RI.

In addition to their plaques and the trophies, which will go to their respective schools, the winners will have the opportunity to spend a day exploring and studying research operations at the General Electric company's Schenectady plants.

They will be guests of the Bridgeport Chamber of Commerce.