Friday, March 25, 2011

The Dawn of Electronic Computing

On March 25, 1946, a project to build a computer called ENIAC was finished by John Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. The contract to build ENIAC was intiated by the US Army under the Codename "Project PX" and was classified "Top Secret."
It was not the first ever computer but ENIAC is re...garded as the first successful, general digital computer, a "Turing machine," capable of being programmed for any task.
ENIAC weighed over 27,000 kg (60,000 lb), and contained more than 18,000 vacuum tubes - "valves" that were used as switches, replacing the mechanical relays of previous computers. It took six technicians working full time to test and replace 2000 of the tubes each month.
In 1948, a major upgrade was made to allow data transfer to be done independently of calculation. This simplified programming and increased the speed considerably - so that an artillery shell trajectory could be calculated in about 30 seconds - half the actual flight time of the shell.
ENIAC was transferred to the Aberdeen Proving Ground, where it was in continuous operation until it was finally shut down at 11:45 p.m. on October 2, 1955.
So it goes.

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