|Also known as||Whirlwind I|
|Human name(s)||Winifred Forrester|
|First appearance||Late 2009|
|Faction||Formerly of the MIT-tan quasi-faction; Deceased OS-tans|
|Rival(s)||US Navy, Air Force|
|Developer(s)||MIT, Lincoln Labs|
|Debut||20 Apr 1951|
|Latest release||Circa 1959|
Created at MIT Lincoln Laboratory, Whirlwind was an early general-purpose computer. First begun in the 1940s as an electromechanical flight simulator, when the Navy bailed out of the project the Air Force stepped in to keep it alive. One of the first electronic computers, it was a pioneer in output display and an early user of magnetic core memory, making it among the fastest computers in the world at its time of creation. Although its lifespan was relatively short, it had a major impact on the computer industry - the profoundly influential SAGE system, TX-0, TX -2 and PDP-1 computers are all direct descendants of Whirlwind.
Whirlwind-hime, as she is often referred to in OSC writings, is depicted as a somewhat tall and pale-skinned woman, apparently mid-30s in age, with long black hair pulled back from her face by a braid. She has turquoise-blue eyes, wears glasses and speaks in a heavy Boston accent, and though her attire was originally described as consisting of contemporary dresses and labcoats, she has often been portrayed as wearing elaborate, 19th-century style gowns in drawn depictions. One constant seems to be the inclusion of black-and-white checkerboard patterns, hair ribbons and vacuum-tube jewelry. In her younger days she was a US Navy Women's Reserve ensign, and thus wore a WAVES uniform, but since her dismissal she has avoided any association with her former service.
Whirlwind is an intelligent and amicable woman, though a hidden temperamental side has been hinted at before. She generally has a positive attitude in life, her only real "enemies" being the US Navy (for abandoning her) and the Air Force (for its theft of her first-born child). She is renowned as an engineer and assisted on various period computer projects; among her greatest creations were her children, as well as pioneering many technologies that would be employed by generations of computers to come.
History and Background
Whirlwind-tan was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, sometime in the mid-1940s; she fully matured by the early 50s. It is known that the was a US Navy WAVES reservist, but few other aspects of her early life have been documented.
By her own admission, Whirlwind's greatest legacy is the creation of SAGE-tan - to a point her daughter could be considered the reason to her existence above all else. Indeed, when SAGE's development was completed in 1959 she was decommissioned and left at the mercy of a group of computer scientists who kept her alive half out of sympathy, half to experiment on her unique physical properties. A series of experimental operations were performed in an attempt to improved her lifespan, speed and powers, but they were untimely unsuccessful, costing her numerous body parts as well as general mental and physical stability. Especially problematic were the coma-like states she fell in and out of for the next fourteen years.
Despite the dire consequences to her health, there were several beneficial effects. Foremost among these, the creation of her second and third children, TX-0 and PDP-1-tan, whose births would have never been possible without the knowledge gained during Whirlwind's experimental surgeries. In many ways, her two children filled the nest left empty by SAGE's departure, and became a comfort and companion to the ailing Whirlwind.
CTSS-tan was born in 1961, but the details of her creation and relationship with Whirlwind-tan are yet-unknown. It has been suggested that CTSS-tan may be an adopted child, rather than a blood-descendant.
Unusually for the era, Whirlwind-tan's relationship with her daughters was not only close but mutually-affectionate despite intervening factors - distance, in the case of SAGE-tan, and worsening health with TX-0, PDP-1 and CTSS.
Death and legacy
Whirlwind-tan's health became steadily worse with advancing age, and by the 1970s she was in a comatose state more often than not. In 1973, she passed away, shortly after SAGE's final visit with her. Her slow decline and lingering death is suspected to have contributed to SAGE's eventual psychological instability.
Through the birth of TX-0 and PDP-1-tan, Whirlwind-tan inspired the creation of an entirely new type of computer: the smaller, nimbler, more efficient minicomputer-tans, whose ranks would swell throughout the next few decades to the point of becoming the dominant computer class. In this way, all computer-tans of the 1960s and 70s can be said to owe their existence to Whirlwind.
Family and relationships
In addition to her children, Whirlwind-tan had several confirmed friendships. In her youth she befriended Harvard Mark I-tan, who at the time was also involved with the US Navy. Memory Test Computer-tan was her personal nurse and a close friend, and after SAGE-tan left Whirlwind looked after GENIAC-chan.
Theories and notes
Whirlwind-tan and the DECs
It has been theorized that the DEC-tans would revere Whirlwind-tan, since she is their earliest conceptual-ancestor and the mother of their founder.
"Picnic" (The first canon appearance of Whirlwind-tan in a story)
"Dirty Water" (An account of Whirlwind-tan's death as told by SAGE-tan)
"A Journey of One Mile" (A story recounting Harvard Mark I-tan's first meeting with Whirlwind-tan)