Browse Prior Art Database

John William Mauchly: 1907-1980

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129337D
Original Publication Date: 1980-Apr-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-05
Document File: 6 page(s) / 30K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

NANCY STERN: AUTHOR [+2]

Abstract

John Mauchly died in Abington, Pennsylvania, on January 8, 1980. The New York Times obituary (Smolowe 1980) described Mauchly as a ";co-inventor of the first electronic computer,"; but his accomplishments went far beyond that simple description.

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THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

Copyright ©; 1980 by the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc., Volume 2, Number 2, April 1980. Used with permission.

John William Mauchly: 1907-1980

NANCY STERN

(Image Omitted: © 1980 by the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. Permission to copy without fee all or part of this material is granted provided that the copies are not made or distributed for direct commercial advantage, the AFIPS copyright notice and the title of the publication and its date appear, and notice is given that copying is by permission of the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. To copy otherwise, or to republish, requires specific permission. Author's address: Department of Administrative Computer Systems, Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY 11550. Keywords and phrases: John Mauchly, obituary, ENIAC, EDVAC, BINAC, UNIVAC. CR category: 1.2. © 1980 AFIPS 0164- 1239/80/020100-103

John William Mauchly: 1907-1980

NANCY STERN .00/0)

John Mauchly died in Abington, Pennsylvania, on January 8, 1980. The New York Times obituary (Smolowe 1980) described Mauchly as a "co-inventor of the first electronic computer," but his accomplishments went far beyond that simple description.

Mauchly was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on August 30, 1907. He attended Johns Hopkins University initially as an engineering student but later transferred into physics. He received his Ph.D. degree in physics in 1932 and the following year became a professor of physics at Ursinus College in Collegeville, Pennsylvania.

At Ursinus, he was well known for his excellent and dynamic teaching and for his research in meteorology. Because his meteorological work required extensive calculations, he began to experiment with alternatives to mechanical tabulating equipment in an effort to reduce the time required to solve meteorological equations. During the course of that experimentation, he conceived of the idea for an electronic version of tabulating equipment -- one that would utilize vacuum tubes (Mauchly 1977).

Mauchly was not proficient in the field of electronics at that time, so he went to the Moore School of Electrical Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania for a summer course in 1941 to enhance his knowledge of electronic devices. He made a very favorable impression on the staff and was asked to stay as an instructor, which he did.

During his first few months at the Moore School, he learned of that institution's contractual work for the Ballistics Research Laboratory (BRL) and of BRL's great need for computational equipment to solve ballistics problems. During World War II, BRL was responsible for producing range tables for new artillery that would furnish gunners with the information they needed to aim and fire the weapons appropriately. The calculations required to prepare these tables were extensive. Because new artillery was being built to meet the nee...