backgroundENIAC.pdf

This preview shows page 1 - 3 out of 7 pages.

From ENIAC to Everyone 1 of 7 1/21/2007 11:46 AM From ENIAC to Everyone Talking with J. Presper Eckert by Alexander Randall 5th J. Presper Eckert reveals the inside story of the invention of ENIAC, the first practical, all-electronic computer, and debunks some myths in this forgotten interview. "It is shocking to have your life work reduced to a tenth of a square inch of silicon," he said. Published on KurzweilAI.net February 23, 2006. There are two epochs in computer history: Before ENIAC and After ENIAC. The first practical, all-electronic computer was unveiled on February 13, 1946 at the Univ. of Pennsylvania's Moore School of Electronics. While there are controversies over who invented what, there is universal agreement that the ENIAC was the watershed project that showed electronic computing was possible. It was a masterpiece of electrical engineering, with unprecedented reliability and speed. And the two men most responsible for its success were J. Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchly. I recorded two days of interviews with J. Presper Eckert in 1989. He was 70 years old. My father was Pres' best friend from childhood and I’d spent my childhood playing with his children. I visited him regularly as an adult. On that day, we spoke in his living room in Gladwyne Pennsylvania—most of it spent sitting on the floor. We stopped talking about computers only to fiddle with his Nova Chord electronic organ that predated ENIAC and we fiddled with stereo speakers. On a second occasion, I recorded a conversation at his daughter's home in western Massachusetts. Calculating Machines Before ENIAC Randall: How did the calculating machines before ENIAC work? Eckert: Well, a person with a paper and pencil can add two 10-digit numbers in about 10 seconds. With a hand calculator, the time is down to 4 seconds. The Harvard Mark 1 was the last of the electromechanical computers—it could add two 10-digit numbers in 0.3 seconds about 30 times faster than paper and pencil. When I was a graduate student, the Moore School of Electronics had two analyzers that were essentially copies of Vannevar Bush's machine from MIT. Randall: What could that machine do? Eckert: It could solve linear differential equations but only linear J. Presper Eckert Birth April 9, 1919 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Death June 3, 1995 Invention ENIAC Computer Start of Project May 9, 1943 First Public Demonstration February 14, 1946 Program Plug boards and switches Input and Output Cards, lights, switches and plugs Floor Space 1,500 square feet Power requirement 170,000 watts
Image of page 1

Subscribe to view the full document.

From ENIAC to Everyone 2 of 7 1/21/2007 11:46 AM equations. It has a long framework divided into sections with a couple dozen shafts buried through it. You could put different gears on the shafts using screwdrivers and hammers and it had "integrators" that gave the product of two shafts coming in on a third shaft coming out. By picking the right gear ratio, you should get the right constants in the equation. We used published tables
Image of page 2
Image of page 3
You've reached the end of this preview.
  • Winter '19
  • oussama jadayel
  • J. Presper Eckert, ENIAC

{[ snackBarMessage ]}

What students are saying

  • Left Quote Icon

    As a current student on this bumpy collegiate pathway, I stumbled upon Course Hero, where I can find study resources for nearly all my courses, get online help from tutors 24/7, and even share my old projects, papers, and lecture notes with other students.

    Student Picture

    Kiran Temple University Fox School of Business ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    I cannot even describe how much Course Hero helped me this summer. It’s truly become something I can always rely on and help me. In the end, I was not only able to survive summer classes, but I was able to thrive thanks to Course Hero.

    Student Picture

    Dana University of Pennsylvania ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    The ability to access any university’s resources through Course Hero proved invaluable in my case. I was behind on Tulane coursework and actually used UCLA’s materials to help me move forward and get everything together on time.

    Student Picture

    Jill Tulane University ‘16, Course Hero Intern