Electronic Design

J. Presper Eckert and John W.Mauchly

Eckert and Mauchly (2002)

Mauchly and Eckert met by chance during the early years of World War II at the University of Pennsylvania’s Moore School of Electrical Engineering. Mauchly, an established physicist, was taking a defense training course taught by Eckert, an engineering graduate student 12 years his junior. Eckert grew interested in Mauchly’s vision of a computing machine that could use electrons to perform all mathematical operations done by humans at that time, but with much more accuracy and speed than the single-problem-solving mechanical devices of the time. In 1943, the Army was persuaded to fund the building of a machine that could quickly calculate ballistic missile trajectories in Europe and Asia. Eckert was named the project’s chief engineer and Mauchly provided the mathematical theory. They led a 50-member team that took three years to build the “electronic numerical integrator and computer.” The first true general-purpose electronic computer, ENIAC stood 10 feet tall, weighed approximately 30 tons, occupied 1000 square feet of floor space, and used more than 70,000 resistors, 10,000 capacitors, 6000 switches, and 18,000 vacuum tubes. In 1946, Eckert and Mauchly founded the Electronic Control Co., which became the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corp. In 1952, Eckert-Mauchly built the Universal Automatic Computer (UNIVAC), the first computer that could handle numerical and alphabetical information with equal success.

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