Images: Birth of the first computer

Images: Birth of the first computer

Summary: J. Presper Eckert and John Mauch designed ENIAC to calculate the trajectory of artillery shells. Fortunately, we've found other uses for their invention.

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TOPICS: Patents
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  • power hungry

    A power-hungry beast, ENIAC ran on 170,000 watts. But contrary to rumor, the lights in Philadelphia did not dim when it ran.

  • Eckert-Mauchly Computer

    Mauchly and one of ENIAC's programmers. After a disagreement with the University of Pennsylvania over patents, Mauchly and Eckert left to form the Eckert-Mauchly Computer, which was bought a few years later by Sperry Rand and later became Unisys. Although Eckert stayed on, Mauchly left and was nearly broke when he died in 1980.

  • trajectory exam

    Frances Blias and Elizabeth Jennings with ENIAC. Women performed many of the mathematical calculations and developed the programming techniques. Although they didn't get credit at the time, their role has recently become better acknowledged.

    "The audience was absolutely astounded. ENIAC ran the trajectory faster than it took the bullet to trace it. People got, as a souvenir, a printout of the trajectory we ran," said Jean Bartik, one of the surviving programmers, about the first demonstration of ENIAC to the military and other scientists.

Topic: Patents

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