Claude Shannon, in his master’s thesis entitled A Symbolic Analysis of Relay and Switching Circuits, submitted to MIT on August 10, 1937, showed that the two-valued algebra developed by George Boole could be used as a basis for the design of electrical circuits. It was first published in a revised and abridged version in Transactions of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers 57 (1938) 713-23.
This thesis became the theoretical basis for the electronics and computer industries that were developed after World War II. Shannon wrote the thesis while working at Bell Telephone Laboratories in New York City. As examples of circuits that could be built using relays, Shannon appended to the thesis theoretical descriptions of "An Electric Adder to the Base Two," and "A Factor Table Machine." The "Factor Table Machine" was not included in the published version.
Shannon's thesis was later characterized as "the most significant master's thesis of the 20th century."
♦ In October 2013 I was surprised to learn that as early as 1886 the American philosopher and logician Charles Sanders Peirce recognized that logical operations could be carried out by electrical switching circuits, and that circuit diagrams for a logic machine constructed from electrical circuits were produced for one of Peirce's students, Allan Marquand. Neither Peirce nor Marquand published on an electrical logic machine, and the concept seems not to have been pursued by either Peirce or Marquand beyond the drawing stage. Nor have I seen evidence of any further development of the concept until Shannon's thesis.