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Four ENIAC panels and one of its three function tables, on display at the School of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Pennsylvania
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Location within Philadelphia
Location University of Pennsylvania Department of Computer and Information Science, 3330 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Coordinates 39°57′08″N75°11′28″W / 39.9522012°N 75.1909932°W / 39.9522012; -75.1909932 Coordinates: 39°57′08″N75°11′28″W / 39.9522012°N 75.1909932°W / 39.9522012; -75.1909932
PHMC dedicatedThursday, June 15, 2000
Glen Beck (background) and Betty Snyder (foreground) program ENIAC in BRL building 328. (U.S. Army photo) Eniac.jpg
Glen Beck (background) and Betty Snyder (foreground) program ENIAC in BRL building 328. (U.S. Army photo)

ENIAC ( /ˈniæk, ˈɛ-/ ; Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer) [1] [2] was amongst the earliest electronic general-purpose computers made. It was Turing-complete, digital and able to solve "a large class of numerical problems" through reprogramming. [3] [4]

A computer is a device that can be instructed to carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically via computer programming. Modern computers have the ability to follow generalized sets of operations, called programs. These programs enable computers to perform an extremely wide range of tasks. A "complete" computer including the hardware, the operating system, and peripheral equipment required and used for "full" operation can be referred to as a computer system. This term may as well be used for a group of computers that are connected and work together, in particular a computer network or computer cluster.

In computability theory, a system of data-manipulation rules is said to be Turing complete or computationally universal if it can be used to simulate any Turing machine. This means that this system is able to recognize or decide other data-manipulation rule sets. This Turing completeness is used as a way to express the power of such data-manipulation rule set. The expression power of these grammars is captured in the Chomsky hierarchy. Virtually all programming languages today are Turing Complete. The concept is named after English mathematician and computer scientist Alan Turing.


Although ENIAC was designed and primarily used to calculate artillery firing tables for the United States Army's Ballistic Research Laboratory, [5] [6] its first program was a study of the feasibility of the thermonuclear weapon. [7] [8]

Artillery class of weapons which fires munitions beyond the range and power of personal weapons

Artillery is a class of heavy military weapons built to fire munitions far beyond the range and power of infantry's small arms. Early artillery development focused on the ability to breach defensive walls, and fortifications during sieges, and led to heavy, fairly immobile siege engines. As technology improved, lighter, more mobile field artillery cannons developed for battlefield use. This development continues today; modern self-propelled artillery vehicles are highly mobile weapons of great versatility providing the large share of an army's total firepower.

External ballistics

External ballistics or exterior ballistics is the part of ballistics that deals with the behavior of a projectile in flight. The projectile may be powered or un-powered, guided or unguided, spin or fin stabilized, flying through an atmosphere or in the vacuum of space, but most certainly flying under the influence of a gravitational field.

United States Army Land warfare branch of the United States Armed Forces

The United States Army (USA) is the land warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces. It is one of the seven uniformed services of the United States, and is designated as the Army of the United States in the United States Constitution. As the oldest and most senior branch of the U.S. military in order of precedence, the modern U.S. Army has its roots in the Continental Army, which was formed to fight the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783)—before the United States of America was established as a country. After the Revolutionary War, the Congress of the Confederation created the United States Army on 3 June 1784 to replace the disbanded Continental Army. The United States Army considers itself descended from the Continental Army, and dates its institutional inception from the origin of that armed force in 1775.

ENIAC was completed in 1945 and first put to work for practical purposes on December 10, 1945. [9]

ENIAC was formally dedicated at the University of Pennsylvania on February 15, 1946 and was heralded as a "Giant Brain" by the press. [10] It had a speed on the order of one thousand times faster than that of electro-mechanical machines; this computational power, coupled with general-purpose programmability, excited scientists and industrialists alike. The combination of speed and programmability allowed for thousands more calculations for problems, as ENIAC calculated a trajectory in 30 seconds that took a human 20 hours (allowing one ENIAC hour to displace 2,400 human hours). [11] The completed machine was announced to the public the evening of February 14, 1946 and formally dedicated the next day at the University of Pennsylvania, having cost almost $500,000 (approximately $6,300,000 today). It was formally accepted by the U.S. Army Ordnance Corps in July 1946. ENIAC was shut down on November 9, 1946 for a refurbishment and a memory upgrade, and was transferred to Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland in 1947. There, on July 29, 1947, it was turned on and was in continuous operation until 11:45 p.m. on October 2, 1955.

University of Pennsylvania Private Ivy League research university in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania is a private Ivy League research university located in the University City neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Chartered in 1755, Penn is the sixth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States. It is one of the nine colonial colleges founded prior to the Declaration of Independence. Benjamin Franklin, Penn's founder and first president, advocated an educational program that trained leaders in commerce, government, and public service, similar to a modern liberal arts curriculum. The university's coat of arms features a dolphin on its red chief, adopted from Benjamin Franklin's own coat of arms.

Aberdeen Proving Ground United States Army facility in Aberdeen, Maryland, USA

Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG) is a United States Army facility located adjacent to Aberdeen, Maryland. Part of the facility is a census-designated place (CDP), which had a population of 3,116 at the 2000 census, and 2,093 at the 2010 census.

Maryland State of the United States of America

Maryland is a state in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east. The state's largest city is Baltimore, and its capital is Annapolis. Among its occasional nicknames are Old Line State, the Free State, and the Chesapeake Bay State. It is named after the English queen Henrietta Maria, known in England as Queen Mary.

Development and design

ENIAC's design and construction was financed by the United States Army, Ordnance Corps, Research and Development Command, led by Major General Gladeon M. Barnes. The total cost was about $487,000, equivalent to $7,051,000in 2018. [12] The construction contract was signed on June 5, 1943; work on the computer began in secret at the University of Pennsylvania's Moore School of Electrical Engineering [13] the following month, under the code name "Project PX", with John Grist Brainerd as principal investigator. Herman H. Goldstine persuaded the Army to fund the project, which put him in charge to oversee it for them. [14]

Gladeon M. Barnes

Gladeon Marcus Barnes was a United States Army major general who, as Chief of Research and Engineering in the Ordnance Department, was responsible for the development of 1,600 different weapons. He is best known for his involvement in the development of the M4 Sherman and the M26 Pershing tanks, as well as ENIAC computer.

Moore School of Electrical Engineering

The Moore School of Electrical Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania came into existence as a result of an endowment from Alfred Fitler Moore on June 4, 1923. It was granted to Penn's School of Electrical Engineering, located in the Towne Building. The first dean of the Moore School was Harold Pender.

John Grist Brainerd was an American electrical engineer who served as principal investigator on the project to build ENIAC, the first general-purpose electronic digital computer. Later, he was dean of the Moore School of Electrical Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania.

ENIAC was designed by John Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert of the University of Pennsylvania, U.S. [15] The team of design engineers assisting the development included Robert F. Shaw (function tables), Jeffrey Chuan Chu (divider/square-rooter), Thomas Kite Sharpless (master programmer), Frank Mural (master programmer), Arthur Burks (multiplier), Harry Huskey (reader/printer) and Jack Davis (accumulators). [16] In 1946, the researchers resigned from the University of Pennsylvania and formed the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation.

John William Mauchly was an American physicist who, along with J. Presper Eckert, designed ENIAC, the first general purpose electronic digital computer, as well as EDVAC, BINAC and UNIVAC I, the first commercial computer made in the United States.

J. Presper Eckert American electrical engineer and computer pioneer

John Adam Presper "Pres" Eckert Jr. was an American electrical engineer and computer pioneer. With John Mauchly, he designed the first general-purpose electronic digital computer (ENIAC), presented the first course in computing topics, founded the Eckert–Mauchly Computer Corporation, and designed the first commercial computer in the U.S., the UNIVAC, which incorporated Eckert's invention of the mercury delay line memory.

Jeffrey Chuan Chu (朱傳榘), born in Tianjin, Republic of China, was a pioneer computer engineer. He received his BS from the University of Minnesota and his MS from the Moore School at the University of Pennsylvania. Chuan was a member of the engineering team that designed the first American electronic computer, the ENIAC. ENIAC was designed by John Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert of the University of Pennsylvania, U.S.

ENIAC was a modular computer, composed of individual panels to perform different functions. Twenty of these modules were accumulators that could not only add and subtract, but hold a ten-digit decimal number in memory. Numbers were passed between these units across several general-purpose buses (or trays, as they were called). In order to achieve its high speed, the panels had to send and receive numbers, compute, save the answer and trigger the next operation, all without any moving parts. Key to its versatility was the ability to branch; it could trigger different operations, depending on the sign of a computed result.


By the end of its operation in 1956, ENIAC contained 20,000 vacuum tubes; 7,200 crystal diodes; 1,500 relays; 70,000 resistors; 10,000 capacitors; and approximately 5,000,000 hand-soldered joints. It weighed more than 30 short tons (27 t), was roughly 2.4 m × 0.9 m × 30 m (8 ft × 3 ft × 98 ft) in size, occupied 167 m2 (1,800 sq ft) and consumed 150 kW of electricity. [17] [18] This power requirement led to the rumor that whenever the computer was switched on, lights in Philadelphia dimmed. [19] Input was possible from an IBM card reader and an IBM card punch was used for output. These cards could be used to produce printed output offline using an IBM accounting machine, such as the IBM 405. While ENIAC had no system to store memory in its inception, these punch cards could be used for external memory storage. [20] In 1953, a 100-word magnetic-core memory built by the Burroughs Corporation was added to ENIAC. [21]

ENIAC used ten-position ring counters to store digits; each digit required 36 vacuum tubes, 10 of which were the dual triodes making up the flip-flops of the ring counter. Arithmetic was performed by "counting" pulses with the ring counters and generating carry pulses if the counter "wrapped around", the idea being to electronically emulate the operation of the digit wheels of a mechanical adding machine.

ENIAC had 20 ten-digit signed accumulators, which used ten's complement representation and could perform 5,000 simple addition or subtraction operations between any of them and a source (e.g., another accumulator or a constant transmitter) per second. It was possible to connect several accumulators to run simultaneously, so the peak speed of operation was potentially much higher, due to parallel operation.

Cpl. Irwin Goldstein (foreground) sets the switches on one of ENIAC's function tables at the Moore School of Electrical Engineering. (U.S. Army photo) Classic shot of the ENIAC.jpg
Cpl. Irwin Goldstein (foreground) sets the switches on one of ENIAC's function tables at the Moore School of Electrical Engineering. (U.S. Army photo)

It was possible to wire the carry of one accumulator into another accumulator to perform double precision arithmetic, but the accumulator carry circuit timing prevented the wiring of three or more for even higher precision. ENIAC used four of the accumulators (controlled by a special multiplier unit) to perform up to 385 multiplication operations per second; five of the accumulators were controlled by a special divider/square-rooter unit to perform up to 40 division operations per second or three square root operations per second.

The other nine units in ENIAC were the initiating unit (started and stopped the machine), the cycling unit (used for synchronizing the other units), the master programmer (controlled loop sequencing), the reader (controlled an IBM punch-card reader), the printer (controlled an IBM card punch), the constant transmitter, and three function tables. [23] [24]

Operation times

The references by Rojas and Hashagen (or Wilkes) [15] give more details about the times for operations, which differ somewhat from those stated above.

The basic machine cycle was 200 microseconds (20 cycles of the 100 kHz clock in the cycling unit), or 5,000 cycles per second for operations on the 10-digit numbers. In one of these cycles, ENIAC could write a number to a register, read a number from a register, or add/subtract two numbers.

A multiplication of a 10-digit number by a d-digit number (for d up to 10) took d+4 cycles, so a 10- by 10-digit multiplication took 14 cycles, or 2,800 microseconds—a rate of 357 per second. If one of the numbers had fewer than 10 digits, the operation was faster.

Division and square roots took 13(d+1) cycles, where d is the number of digits in the result (quotient or square root). So a division or square root took up to 143 cycles, or 28,600 microseconds—a rate of 35 per second. (Wilkes 1956:20 [15] states that a division with a 10 digit quotient required 6 milliseconds.) If the result had fewer than ten digits, it was obtained faster.


ENIAC used common octal-base radio tubes of the day; the decimal accumulators were made of 6SN7 flip-flops, while 6L7s, 6SJ7s, 6SA7s and 6AC7s were used in logic functions. [25] Numerous 6L6s and 6V6s served as line drivers to drive pulses through cables between rack assemblies.

Several tubes burned out almost every day, leaving ENIAC nonfunctional about half the time. Special high-reliability tubes were not available until 1948. Most of these failures, however, occurred during the warm-up and cool-down periods, when the tube heaters and cathodes were under the most thermal stress. Engineers reduced ENIAC's tube failures to the more acceptable rate of one tube every two days. According to an interview in 1989 with Eckert, "We had a tube fail about every two days and we could locate the problem within 15 minutes." [26] In 1954, the longest continuous period of operation without a failure was 116 hours—close to five days.

A function table from ENIAC on display at Aberdeen Proving Ground museum. ENIAC function table at Aberdeen.jpg
A function table from ENIAC on display at Aberdeen Proving Ground museum.


ENIAC could be programmed to perform complex sequences of operations, including loops, branches, and subroutines. However, instead of the stored-program computers that exist today, ENIAC was just a large collection of arithmetic machines, which originally had programs set up into the machine [27] by a combination of plugboard wiring and three portable function tables (containing 1200 ten-way switches each). [28] The task of taking a problem and mapping it onto the machine was complex, and usually took weeks. Due to the complexity of mapping programs onto the machine, programs were only changed after huge numbers of tests of the current program. [29] After the program was figured out on paper, the process of getting the program into ENIAC by manipulating its switches and cables could take days. This was followed by a period of verification and debugging, aided by the ability to execute the program step by step. A programming tutorial for the modulo function using an ENIAC simulator gives an impression of what a program on the ENIAC looked like. [30] [31]

ENIAC's six primary programmers, Kay McNulty, Betty Jennings, Betty Snyder, Marlyn Wescoff, Fran Bilas and Ruth Lichterman, not only determined how to input ENIAC programs, but also developed an understanding of ENIAC's inner workings. [32] [33] The programmers debugged problems by crawling inside the massive structure to find bad joints and bad tubes. [34]

Programmers Betty Jean Jennings (left) and Fran Bilas (right) operate ENIAC's main control panel at the Moore School of Electrical Engineering. (U.S. Army photo from the archives of the ARL Technical Library) Two women operating ENIAC.gif
Programmers Betty Jean Jennings (left) and Fran Bilas (right) operate ENIAC's main control panel at the Moore School of Electrical Engineering. (U.S. Army photo from the archives of the ARL Technical Library)


Kay McNulty, Betty Jennings, Betty Snyder, Marlyn Meltzer, Fran Bilas, and Ruth Lichterman were the first programmers of the ENIAC. Historians had at first mistaken them for "Refrigerator Ladies", i.e., models posing in front of the machine. [35] Most of the women did not receive recognition for their work on the ENIAC in their lifetimes. [36]

These early programmers were drawn from a group of about two hundred women employed as computers at the Moore School of Electrical Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania. The job of computers was to produce the numeric result of mathematical formulas needed for a scientific study, or an engineering project. They usually did so with a mechanical calculator. This was one of the few technical job categories available to women at that time. [37] Betty Holberton (née Snyder) continued on to help write the first generative programming system (SORT/MERGE) and help design the first commercial electronic computers, the UNIVAC and the BINAC, alongside Jean Jennings. [38] McNulty developed the use of subroutines in order to help increase ENIAC's computational capability. [39]

Herman Goldstine selected the programmers, whom he called operators, from the computers who had been calculating ballistics tables with mechanical desk calculators, and a differential analyzer prior to and during the development of ENIAC. [36] Under Herman and Adele Goldstine's direction, the computers studied ENIAC's blueprints and physical structure to determine how to manipulate its switches and cables, as programming languages did not yet exist. Though contemporaries considered programming a clerical task and did not publicly recognize the programmers' impact on the successful operation and announcement of ENIAC, [36] McNulty, Jennings, Snyder, Wescoff, Bilas, and Lichterman have since been recognized for their contributions to computing. [40] [41] [42]

The "programmer" and "operator" job titles were not originally considered professions suitable for women. The labor shortage created by World War II helped enable the entry of women into the field. [43] However, the field was not viewed as prestigious, and bringing in women was viewed as a way to free men up for more skilled labor. For example, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics said in 1942, "It is felt that enough greater return is obtained by freeing the engineers from calculating detail to overcome any increased expenses in the computers' salaries. The engineers admit themselves that the girl computers do the work more rapidly and accurately than they would. This is due in large measure to the feeling among the engineers that their college and industrial experience is being wasted and thwarted by mere repetitive calculation". [43]

Following the initial six programmers, an expanded team of a hundred scientists was recruited to continue work on the ENIAC. Among these were several women, including Gloria Ruth Gordon. [44] Adele Goldstine wrote the original technical description of the ENIAC. [45]

Role in the hydrogen bomb

Although the Ballistic Research Laboratory was the sponsor of ENIAC, one year into this three-year project John von Neumann, a mathematician working on the hydrogen bomb at Los Alamos National Laboratory, became aware of this computer. [46] Los Alamos subsequently became so involved with ENIAC that the first test problem run consisted of computations for the hydrogen bomb, not artillery tables. [6] The input/output for this test was one million cards. [47]

Role in development of the Monte Carlo methods

Related to ENIAC's role in the hydrogen bomb was its role in the Monte Carlo method becoming popular. Scientists involved in the original nuclear bomb development used massive groups of people doing huge numbers of calculations ("computers" in the terminology of the time) to investigate the distance that neutrons would likely travel through various materials. John von Neumann and Stanislaw Ulam realized the speed of ENIAC would allow these calculations to be done much more quickly. [48] The success of this project showed the value of Monte Carlo methods in science. [49]

Later developments

A press conference was held on February 1, 1946, [50] and the completed machine was announced to the public the evening of February 14, 1946, [51] featuring demonstrations of its capabilities. Elizabeth Snyder and Betty Jean Jennings were responsible for developing the demonstration trajectory program, although Herman and Adele Goldstine took credit for it. [50] The machine was formally dedicated the next day [52] at the University of Pennsylvania. None of the women involved in programming the machine or creating the demonstration were invited to the formal dedication nor to the celebratory dinner held afterwards. [53]

The original contract amount was $61,700; the final cost was almost $500,000 (approximately $6,400,000 today). It was formally accepted by the U.S. Army Ordnance Corps in July 1946. ENIAC was shut down on November 9, 1946 for a refurbishment and a memory upgrade, and was transferred to Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland in 1947. There, on July 29, 1947, it was turned on and was in continuous operation until 11:45 p.m. on October 2, 1955. [2]

Role in the development of the EDVAC

A few months after ENIAC's unveiling in the summer of 1946, as part of "an extraordinary effort to jump-start research in the field", [54] the Pentagon invited "the top people in electronics and mathematics from the United States and Great Britain" [54] to a series of forty-eight lectures given in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; all together called The Theory and Techniques for Design of Digital Computers—more often named the Moore School Lectures. [54] Half of these lectures were given by the inventors of ENIAC. [55]

ENIAC was a one-of-a-kind design and was never repeated. The freeze on design in 1943 meant that the computer design would lack some innovations that soon became well-developed, notably the ability to store a program. 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, who was consulting for the Moore School on the EDVAC, sat in on the Moore School meetings at which the stored program concept was elaborated. 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. ENIAC administrator and security officer Herman Goldstine distributed copies of this First Draft to a number of government and educational institutions, spurring widespread interest in the construction of a new generation of electronic computing machines, including Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator (EDSAC) at Cambridge University, England and SEAC at the U.S. Bureau of Standards. [56]


A number of improvements were made to ENIAC after 1947, including a primitive read-only stored programming mechanism using the function tables as program ROM, [56] [57] [58] after which programming was done by setting the switches. [59] The idea have been worked out in several variants by Richard Clippinger and his group, on the one hand, and the Goldstines, on the other, [60] and it was included in the ENIAC patent. [61] Clippinger consulted with von Neumann on what instruction set to implement. [56] [62] [63] Clippinger had thought of a three-address architecture while von Neumann proposed a one-address architecture because it was simpler to implement. Three digits of one accumulator (#6) were used as the program counter, another accumulator (#15) was used as the main accumulator, a third accumulator (#8) was used as the address pointer for reading data from the function tables, and most of the other accumulators (1–5, 7, 9–14, 17–19) were used for data memory.

In March 1948 the converter unit was installed, [64] which made possible programming through the reader from standard IBM cards. [65] [66] The "first production run" of the new coding techniques on the Monte Carlo problem followed in April. [64] [67] After ENIAC's move to Aberdeen, a register panel for memory was also constructed, but it did not work. A small master control unit to turn the machine on and off was also added. [68]

The programming of the stored program for ENIAC was done by Betty Jennings, Clippinger, Adele Goldstine and others. [69] [57] [56] It was first demonstrated as a stored-program computer in April 1948, [70] running a program by Adele Goldstine for John von Neumann. This modification reduced the speed of ENIAC by a factor of 6 and eliminated the ability of parallel computation, but as it also reduced the reprogramming time [63] [56] to hours instead of days, it was considered well worth the loss of performance. Also analysis had shown that due to differences between the electronic speed of computation and the electromechanical speed of input/output, almost any real-world problem was completely I/O bound, even without making use of the original machine's parallelism. Most computations would still be I/O bound, even after the speed reduction imposed by this modification.

Early in 1952, a high-speed shifter was added, which improved the speed for shifting by a factor of five. In July 1953, a 100-word expansion core memory was added to the system, using binary coded decimal, excess-3 number representation. To support this expansion memory, ENIAC was equipped with a new Function Table selector, a memory address selector, pulse-shaping circuits, and three new orders were added to the programming mechanism. [56]

Comparison with other early computers

Mechanical computing machines have been around since Archimedes' time (see: Antikythera mechanism), but the 1930s and 1940s are considered the beginning of the modern computer era.

ENIAC was, like the IBM Harvard Mark I and the German Z3, able to run an arbitrary sequence of mathematical operations, but did not read them from a tape. Like the British Colossus, it was programmed by plugboard and switches. ENIAC combined full, Turing-complete programmability with electronic speed. The Atanasoff–Berry Computer (ABC), ENIAC, and Colossus all used thermionic valves (vacuum tubes). ENIAC's registers performed decimal arithmetic, rather than binary arithmetic like the Z3, the ABC and Colossus.

Like the Colossus, ENIAC required rewiring to reprogram until the April 1948. [71] In June 1948, the Manchester Baby ran its first program and earned the distinction of first electronic stored-program computer. [72] [73] [74] Though the idea of a stored-program computer with combined memory for program and data was conceived during the development of ENIAC, it was not initially implemented in ENIAC because World War II priorities required the machine to be completed quickly, and ENIAC's 20 storage locations would be too small to hold data and programs.

Public knowledge

The Z3 and Colossus were developed independently of each other, and of the ABC and ENIAC during World War II. Work on the ABC at Iowa State University was stopped in 1942 after John Atanasoff was called to Washington, D.C., to do physics research for the U.S. Navy, and it was subsequently dismantled. [75] The Z3 was destroyed by the Allied bombing raids of Berlin in 1943. As the ten Colossus machines were part of the UK's war effort their existence remained secret until the late 1970s, although knowledge of their capabilities remained among their UK staff and invited Americans. ENIAC, by contrast, was put through its paces for the press in 1946, "and captured the world's imagination". Older histories of computing may therefore not be comprehensive in their coverage and analysis of this period. All but two of the Colossus machine were dismantled in 1945; the remaining two were used to decrypt Soviet messages by GCHQ until the 1960s. [76] [77] The public demonstration for ENIAC was developed by Snyder and Jennings who created a demo that would calculate the trajectory of a missile in 15 seconds, a task that would have taken a weeks for a human computer. [39]


For a variety of reasons (including Mauchly's June 1941 examination of the Atanasoff–Berry Computer, prototyped in 1939 by John Atanasoff and Clifford Berry), U.S. Patent 3,120,606 for ENIAC, applied for in 1947 and granted in 1964, was voided by the 1973 decision of the landmark federal court case Honeywell v. Sperry Rand, putting the invention of the electronic digital computer in the public domain and providing legal recognition to Atanasoff as the inventor of the first electronic digital computer.

Main ENIAC parts

The bottoms of three accumulators at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, US ENIAC, Ft. Sill, OK, US (78).jpg
The bottoms of three accumulators at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, US

The main parts were 40 panels and three portable function tables (named A, B, and C). The layout of the panels was (clockwise, starting with the left wall):

Left wall
Back wall
Right wall

An IBM card reader was attached to Constant Transmitter panel 3 and an IBM card punch was attached to Printer Panel 2. The Portable Function Tables could be connected to Function Table 1, 2, and 3. [78]

Parts on display

Detail of the back of a section of ENIAC, showing vacuum tubes ENIAC Penn2.jpg
Detail of the back of a section of ENIAC, showing vacuum tubes

Pieces of ENIAC are held by the following institutions:


ENIAC was named an IEEE Milestone in 1987. [81]

ENIAC on a Chip, University of Pennsylvania (1995) - Computer History Museum.jpg

In 1996, in honor of the ENIAC's 50th anniversary, The University of Pennsylvania sponsored a project named, "ENIAC-on-a-Chip", where a very small silicon computer chip measuring 7.44 mm by 5.29 mm was built with the same functionality as ENIAC. Although this 20 MHz chip was many times faster than ENIAC, it had but a fraction of the speed of its contemporary microprocessors in the late 1990s. [82] [83] [84]

In 1997, the six women who did most of the programming of ENIAC were inducted into the Women in Technology International Hall of Fame. [40] [85] The role of the ENIAC programmers is treated in a 2010 documentary film titled Top Secret Rosies: The Female "Computers" of WWII by LeAnn Erickson. [41] A 2014 documentary short, The Computers by Kate McMahon, tells of the story of the six programmers; this was the result of 20 years' research by Kathryn Kleiman and her team as part of the ENIAC Programmers Project. [42] [86]

In 2011, in honor of the 65th anniversary of the ENIAC's unveiling, the city of Philadelphia declared February 15 as ENIAC Day. [87]

The ENIAC celebrated its 70th anniversary on February 15, 2016. [88]

See also


  1. Haigh. et. al. list accumulators 7, 8, 13, and 17, but 2018 photos show 7, 8, 11, and 17.
  1. Eckert Jr., John Presper and Mauchly, John W.; Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer, United States Patent Office, US Patent 3,120,606, filed 1947-06-26, issued 1964-02-04; invalidated 1973-10-19 after court ruling on Honeywell v. Sperry Rand.
  2. 1 2 Weik, Martin H. "The ENIAC Story". Ordnance. 708 Mills Building - Washington, DC: American Ordnance Association (January–February 1961). Archived from the original on 2011-08-14. Retrieved 2015-03-29.
  3. Goldstine & Goldstine 1946 , p. 97
  4. Shurkin, Joel (1996). Engines of the mind: the evolution of the computer from mainframes to microprocessors. New York: Norton. ISBN   0-393-31471-5.
  5. Moye, William T. (January 1996). "ENIAC: The Army-Sponsored Revolution". US Army Research Laboratory. Archived from the original on 2017-05-21. Retrieved 2015-03-29.
  6. 1 2 Goldstine 1972 , p. 214
  7. Richard Rhodes (1995). "chapter 13". Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb . p. 251. The first problem assigned to the first working electronic digital computer in the world was the hydrogen bomb. […] The ENIAC ran a first rough version of the thermonuclear calculations for six weeks in December 1945 and January 1946.
  8. Scott McCartney p.103 (1999): "ENIAC correctly showed that Teller's scheme would not work, but the results led Teller and Ulam to come up with another design together."
  9. Brain used in the press as a metaphor became common during the war years. Looking, for example, at Life magazine: 1937-08-16, p.45 Overseas Air Lines Rely on Magic Brain (RCA Radiocompass). 1942-03-09 p.55 the Magic Brain—is a development of RCA engineers (RCA Victrola). 1942-12-14 p.8 Blanket with a Brain does the rest! (GE Automatic Blanket). 1943-11-08 p.8 Mechanical brain sights gun (How to boss a BOFORS!)
  10. "ENIAC". ENIAC USA 1946. History of Computing Project. 2013-03-13. Retrieved 2016-05-18.
  11. Dalakov, Georgi. "ENIAC". History of Computers. Georgi Dalakov. Retrieved 2016-05-23.
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