Get email productivity tips!  
  Home    Up Contact Legal Stuff  

          "A new mathematical robot"

    This issue of the radio hobbyist magazine "Radio News" appeared in April 1946.The cover features an impressive ham radio station... but inside, on page 22, is buried a short article that didn't even make it to the cover.
    The modest half-page item reports a "New mathematical robot" recently announced by the War Dept. This device, containing nearly 18,000 tubes, is a "digital" or "discrete variable" computing machine, as opposed to the "continuous variable" type. The "basic arithmetical rate of the machine" is 5kHz (in today's terminology: the CPU runs at a  clock frequency of 0.000005 GHz). This "robot" was none other than the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC for short), known (not without some controversy) as the first general-purpose electronic computer...
Radio News
Click photo to enlarge
    The photo at right, in the same issue, shows Dr. J.W. Mauchly, one of the ENIAC's inventors, setting the machine up for a computing task - programming it, in fact.

    Click here to read the entire article!

Exhibit provenance:
    I bought this issue of Radio News on eBay. I don't normally buy collectible magazines, but hey, it isn't every day that I get a chance to read about the invention of the computer as reported in real time... and to be reassured that "it is expected that future machines can be built much more cheaply and compactly"!

More info: http://www.library.upenn.edu/special/gallery/mauchly/jwmintro.html

J.W. Mauchly
Click photo to enlarge
Back Index Next

Home | HOC | Fractals | Miscellany | About | Contact

Copyright 2005 N. Zeldes. All rights reserved.