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The ENIAC: First General-Purpose Electronic Computer

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129377D
Original Publication Date: 1981-Oct-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-05

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

ARTHUR W. BURKS: AUTHOR [+3]

Abstract

[Figure containing following caption omitted: Note. Arthur Burks's research and writing for this paper have been supported by NSP Grant No. MCS 78-26016. Alice Burks has contributed substantially to research of the historical documents, to analysis and organization of the material, and to the written presentation. In the interest of simplicity, the first-person singular will be used to signify Arthur alone, as a participant in various events; the first-person plural trill also be well, on occasion, to signify Arthur jointly with other participants.]

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THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

Copyright ©; 1981 by the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. Used with permission.

The ENIAC: First General-Purpose Electronic Computer

ARTHUR W. BURKS

ALICE R. BURKS

  (Image Omitted: Authors' Address Department of Computer and Communication Sciences, University of Michigan, 221 Angell Hall, Ann Arbor, MI 48109. © 1981 by Arthur W. Burp and Alice R. Burks. To copy or reprint all or part of this article requires specific permission in writing from the authors. AFIPS 0164-1239/81 /04031 0-399/00)

(Image Omitted: Note. Arthur Burks's research and writing for this paper have been supported by NSP Grant No. MCS 78-26016. Alice Burks has contributed substantially to research of the historical documents, to analysis and organization of the material, and to the written presentation. In the interest of simplicity, the first-person singular will be used to signify Arthur alone, as a participant in various events; the first-person plural trill also be well, on occasion, to signify Arthur jointly with other participants.)

The conception, development, and design of the ENIAC are presented in the context of a cause/ history. Early influences, particularly the differential analyzer and the work of Atanasoff, are detailed. Architecture, electronic and logical designs, basic elements, main units, and problem setup are described, together with the historical contributions to each aspect. Finally, the place of the ENIAC in the history of computers is delineated, both quantitatively and qualitatively through a comparison with machines from the mechanical, electromechanical, and electronic technologies. Keywords: J. V. Atanasoff, J. W. Mauchly, J. P. Eckert, H. W. Goldstine, J. G. Brainerd, T. K. Sharpless, R. F. Shaw, A. W. Burks, V. Bush, P. Crawford, J. A. Ralchman, ENIAC, differential analyzer, mechanical desk calculator, Atanasoff electronic computer, IBM 601, general- purpose computer, stored-program computer, Moore School of Electrical Engineering, Ballistic Research Laboratory, vacuum tube, storage drum, plugboard, electrons counter, binary counter, decade counter, flip- flop, electronic circuits, resistor-matrix circuit, accumulator, high- speed multiplier, master programmer, cycling unit, trajectory calculation, problem setup, parallel computation, centralized architecture, electronic memory, electronic design, logical design, branching, read-only indexing, read-write indexing, computing power, computing speed, computing reliability, ENIAC patent dispute, computer technologies CR Categories: 1.2, 6.0

1. Introduction

The contemporary computer revolution, comparable in impact to the industrial revolution from which modern technological society arose, was set in motion curing 'tine late 1940s by the first stored-program computers. The origin of the stored-program computer is, then, an event of great historical significance, and as such needs to be perceiv...