|Definition||:||Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer|
|Category||:||Computing » Hardware|
ENIAC in full electronic numerical integrator and Computer is the United States’ first general-purpose programmable electronic digital computer. It was built during World War II.
An Amazing Machine in 1946
The New York Times announced ENIAC’s official introduction in 1946. All 1,800 square feet of this machinery can be found on the head of one pin today.
ENIAC demonstrated that electronic computing is sound and predicted smaller and more powerful machines at the dedication ceremony. It is unlikely that they could have imagined that the CPU would eventually be smaller than a pencil eraser.
Major General Gladeon Marcus Barnes led the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer design and construction. Funded by the Research and Development Command, the US Army Ordnance Corps, Construction contracts were signed June 5, 1943. Secret work began in July at Moore School of Electrical Engineering, University of Pennsylvania. The codename was “Project PX”.
John Mauchly proposed the ENIAC concept in 1942. However, John Vincent Atanasoff copied the idea and won the 1972 lawsuit. ENIAC was designed as a modular computer that could be made up of separate panels. It was also the first computer to solely run on electronic components. It could perform 5000 cycles per second on 10-digit numbers due to its 100 kHz clock and design. The basic machine cycle took 200 microseconds. It could read and write from a register, as well as add/subtract 2 numbers in a single cycle. The ENIAC was originally designed for military purposes, but it could also be used to solve complicated mathematics, engineering, or physics problems. It was programmed using a series switches and cables.
ENIAC: 10 Fact About ENIAC
On February 1, 1946, a press conference was held. The machine was unveiled to the public on February 14, 1946. It featured demonstrations of its capabilities. The demonstration trajectory program was developed by Elizabeth Snyder and Betty Jean Jennings, but it was Herman and Adele Goldstine who were responsible. The University of Pennsylvania officially dedicated the machine the following day. The formal dedication was not attended by any of the women who were involved in the programming or creation of the demonstration.
The initial contract cost $61,700. In the end, it was nearly $500,000 (roughly equivalent to $7283,000 in 2020). In July 1946, the U.S. Army Ordnance Corps officially accepted it. ENIAC was closed on November 9, 1946 for refurbishment and memory upgrades. It was then transferred to Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland in 1947. It was turned on there on July 29, 1947 and continued to operate until 11:45 on October 2, 1955.
Role in the development of the EDVAC
The Pentagon hosted a series of 48 lectures in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, just a few months after the unveiling of ENIAC in summer 1946. These lectures were part of an “extraordinary effort to jump-start the research in this field”. They were called The Theory and Techniques for Design of Digital Computers, more commonly known as the Moore School Lectures. These lectures comprised half of the lectures given by ENIAC’s inventors.
ENIAC was an original design that was never duplicated. Due to the 1943 design freeze, the computer design was unable to incorporate some of the innovations that were quickly developed. These included the ability store programs. Eckert and Mauchly started work on a new design, to be later called the EDVAC, which would be both simpler and more powerful. In particular, in 1944 Eckert wrote his description of a memory unit (the mercury delay line) which would hold both the data and the program. John von Neumann was a consultant for Moore School on EDVAC and he attended the Moore School meetings where the concept of the stored program was developed. Von Neumann wrote up an incomplete set of notes (First Draft of a Report on the EDVAC) which were intended to be used as an internal memorandum–describing, elaborating, and couching in formal logical language the ideas developed in the meetings. Herman Goldstine, ENIAC administrator, and security officer, distributed copies of the First Draft to several government and educational institutions. This sparked widespread interest in the construction of an electronic computing machine, including the Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator at Cambridge University, England, and the SEAC at U.S. Bureau of Standards.
Parts on display
- The School of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Pennsylvania has four of the original forty panels (Accumulator #18, Constant Transmitter Panel 2, Master Programmer Panel 2, and the Cycling Unit) and one of the three function tables (Function Table B) of ENIAC.
- Five panels are located in the Smithsonian (Accumulators 2, 19, 20, Constant Transmitter panel 1 and 3; Divider, Square Rooter, Function Table 2 panel 1, Function Table 3 panel 2 and High-speed Multiplier panel 2; Printer panel 1 and Initiating unit) at the National Museum of American History, Washington, D.C.
- The Science Museum in London has a receiver unit on display.
- The Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California has three panels (Accumulator #12, Function Table 2 panel 2, and Printer Panel 3) and portable function table C on display (on loan from the Smithsonian Institution)
- Four panels are found at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor: two accumulators and High-speed Multiplier panel 3. Master Programmer panel 2.
- The Portable Function Table A is located at the United States Army Ordnance Museum, Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. This is where ENIAC was first used.
- The U.S. Army Field Artillery Museum in Fort Sill, as of October 2014, obtained seven panels of ENIAC that were previously housed by The Perot Group in Plano, Texas. Panel #1 and #2 are connected to function tables #1 and the back of a panel that shows its tubes. There are accumulators #7 and #8, #11 and #17. Also on display is a module of tubes.
- The United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, has one of the data entry terminals from the ENIAC.
- Three panels are on loan from Smithsonian Institution by the Heinz Nixdorf Museum, Paderborn, Germany. The museum rebuilt one of the accumulator panels in 2014. This reconstructed panel has the same look and feel as the original.