ENIAC Machine: The First Computer

First ComputersThe first substantial computer was the giant ENIAC machine by John W. Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert at the University of Pennsylvania. ENIAC (Electrical Numerical Integrator and Calculator) used a word of 10 decimal digits instead of binary ones like previous automated calculators/computers.

eniac machine

ENIAC (/ˈɛniæk/; Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer) was the first programmable, electronic, general-purpose digital computer made in 1945. It was Turing-complete and able to solve “a large class of numerical problems” through reprogramming.

Although ENIAC was designed and primarily used to calculate artillery firing tables for the United States Army’s Ballistic Research Laboratory (which later became a part of the Army Research Laboratory), its first program was a study of the feasibility of the thermonuclear weapon.

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

ENIAC was formally dedicated at the University of Pennsylvania on February 15, 1946, having cost $487,000 (equivalent to $5,900,000 in 2019), and was heralded as a “Giant Brain” by the press. 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 to displace 2,400 humans).

ENIAC was formally accepted by the U.S. Army Ordnance Corps in July 1946. It was transferred to Aberdeen Proving GroundMaryland in 1947, where it was in continuous operation until 1955.

The first computer that resembled the modern machines we see today was invented by Charles Babbage between 1833 and 1871. He developed a device, the analytical engine, and worked on it for nearly 40 years.

TIFRAC (Tata Institute of Fundamental Research Automatic Calculator) was the first computer developed in India, at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai. Initially a TIFR Pilot Machine was developed in the 1950s (operational in 1956).

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