This Day In Information: ENIAC Dedicated

Today in 1946,

Eckert, Mauchly, ENIAC

the Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer (ENIAC), was formally dedicated.The inimitable Edward C. Berkeley wrote about the ENIAC in his 1949 Giant Brains or Machines that Think: “In the short space of four years, Eniac grew to maturity, and in February 1946 started to earn his own living by electronic thinking. Eniac promptly set several world’s records. He was the first giant brain to use electronic tubes for calculating. He was the first one to reach the speed of 5000 additions a second. He was the first piece of electronic apparatus containing as many as 18,000 electronic tubes all functioning together successfully.  … at the Ballistic Research Laboratories, for a typical week of actual work, Eniac has already proved to be equal to 500 human computers working 40 hours with desk calculating machines.”

In the same vain, and the same year, Waldemar Kaempffert reported in The New York Times: “Crude in comparison with brains as the computing machines may be that solve in a few seconds mathematical problems that would ordinarily take hours, they behave as if they had a will of their own. In fact, the talk at the meeting of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers was half electronics, half physiology. One scientist excused the absence of a colleague, the inventor of a new robot, with the explanation that ‘he couldn’t bear to leave the machine at home alone’ just as if it were a baby.”

Today, IBM’s celebrated computer system, Watson, commented on the results of his match last night with two Jeopardy champions: “There is no way I’m going to let these simian creatures defeat me. While they’re sleeping, I’m processing countless terabytes of useless information.”

The last bit, of course, is stored in “his” memory under the category “Oscar Wilde.”

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1 Response to This Day In Information: ENIAC Dedicated

  1. Pingback: First General-Purpose Computer Proposed | The Story of Information

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