The History of Computers
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The ENIAC Computer

The Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator were
built at the University of Pennsylvania between 1943 and 1945 by John Mauchly
and J. Presper Eckert. They were given monetary funds provided by the US army to
design a machine that would replace computers, women calculating firing tables
for the allied armies. However it was not the first computer, with Charles
Babbage inventing the very first computer (which he called a difference) as
well as several electronic models before ENIAC such as Colossus and the
Atanasoff-Berry Computer.

It occupied the 50-by-30-foot (15-by-9-metre) basement of
the Moore School, where its 40 panels were arranged, U-shaped, along three
walls. Each of the units was about 2 feet wide by 2 feet deep by 8 feet high
(0.6 metre by 0.6 metre by 2.4 metres). With approximately 18,000 vacuum tubes,
70,000 resistors, 10,000 capacitors, 6,000 switches, and 1,500 relays, it was
easily the most complex electronic system ever built. ENIAC ran continuously
(to extend tube life), generating 150 kilowatts of heat, and could execute up
to 5,000 additions per second, several orders of magnitude faster than its electromechanical
predecessors. ENIAC as well as later computers employing vacuum tubes are known
as first-generation computers. (With 1,500 mechanical relays, ENIAC was still
transitional to later, fully electronic computers).

It took around a year to design, and 18 months to construct
as well as $500,000USD of US taxes to build it. The machine was eventually
completed in 1946, after the end of the Second World War. It was used primarily
in the calculations of the design of atomic weapons as well as in ballistics
work, and in other applications, such like the first numerical weather
prediction by computer.

It was dismantled in autumn 1947 and was relocated from the University
of Pennsylvania to the Army’s Aberdeen Proving Ground in Aberdeen, Maryland.

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ENIAC before disassembling

ENIAC before disassembling | The History of Computers |
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