Hospital Computer Project

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The precursor of Massachusetts General Hosptial (MGH) Electonic Medical Records that led to the invention of programming language MUMPS.


In 1961, Bolt Beranek and Newman(BBN) lead by Jordan J. Baruch, an MIT professor of electrical engineering, started the Hospital Computer Project at the MGH. This was joint contract funded by the National Institutes of Health and the American Hospital Association.

BBN had developed Time Sharing technology. This gave way to real-time access and modification data. BBN explored the used of their new technology in the medical field and come up with the Hospital Computer Project.


The project was implemented in PDP-1 systems with 18bit memory and 5 simultaneous users. There were various Teletype input terminals at all floors. The Terminals were connected by 10words/sec data connection. So the data connection avoided the use of telephone lines. The main PDP system was 10 miles away from MGH.

The automated modules included admissions/discharge, medication ordering and listing at the nursing station, and clinical chemistry laboratory test ordering and result reporting


  • High cost
  • Difficulty in usage of teletype input
  • Slow Speed of communication
  • Limited Functions


The project was later taken over by the Laboratory of Computer Science Massachusetts General Hospital, which further developed the system, created Laboratory Computer Project and also led to the invention of programming language MUMPS.


  1. History of the Development of Medical Information Systems at the Laboratory of Computer Science at Massachusetts General Hospital By G. Octo Barnett, M.D
  2. Medical Application of Computers at BBN by Paul Castleman