ENIAC Photos - Volume I (1946) (See also ENIAC Photos - Volume II)

"Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer"

GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF ENIAC

The ENIAC was over 100 feet long, circling a room 30 feet by 50 feet. It was 10 feet high and about 3 feet deep.

The ENIAC contained over 18,000 vacuum tubes and programs had to be physically wired into the computer. The ENIAC weighed about 30 tons and was used to integrate ballistic equations and calculate trajectories of naval shells.

The ENIAC was completed in 1946 and remained in use until 1955. The original cost of the system was about $486,000.

The ENIAC was one of the first large scale, general purpose, electronic digital computers. The Moore School of Electrical Engineering's J. Presper Eckert, John Mauchly, Herman Goldstine and Professor Grist Brainerd visited the Army's Ballistic Research Laboratory at Aberdeen looking for backing for their concept for a high-speed computer.

Present at Aberdeen were Marsten Morse, president of the American Mathematical Society, Oswald Veblen of Princeton, Colonel Leslie E. Simon, head of the Ballistic Research Laboratory, and Colonel Hermann Zornig, founder of the research laboratory.

The Moore School agreed to contract with the Army and work on the ENIAC was begun. In August of 1944, John von Neumann regularly came to discuss the logical designs of the ENIAC, especially with regard to the mathematical analyses involved.

The ENIAC project involved at least 21 people, with John P. Eckert as chief engineer and John Mauchly as senior consultant. Kay Mauchly Antonelli was one of the ENIAC's first programmers. Arthur Burks, an engineer at the Moore School, was the organizer of the public debut of the ENIAC.

Although the ENIAC was predated by the Atanasoff Berry Computer and the Colossus (1943) as the very first electronic digital computer, the ENIAC has the distinction of being a major milestone in the development of computing. Its creators, Eckert and Mauchly, through their own company and later with Remington Rand, accomplished a great deal towards establishing the computer industry in the United States. ENIAC continued in operation for many years.

In contrast, the Atanasoff computer, essentially a prototype system, did not go into long term operation. The Colossus, developed at Bletchley Park, was shrouded in secrecy for 30 years after its construction. Therefore, information on it was not readily available to other computer pioneers.

On the other hand, Eckert and Mauchly's work was more public. They also developed the UNIVAC, the first commercially available computer. (See UNIVAC)

Massive circuits and wiring units covered the walls.

 

(See Additional Photos of ENIAC Vacuum Tubes)

 

Photos courtesy of U.S. Army

Photo Copyrights

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(See also ENIAC Photos - Volume II)

(See Additional Photos of ENIAC Vacuum Tubes)

 

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