Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer (ENIAC)

Last updated: December 15, 2016

What Does Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer (ENIAC) Mean?

The Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer (ENIAC) was the very first general-purpose electronic computer. It was designed primarily to calculate artillery firing tables to be used by the United States Army's Ballistic Research Laboratory to help US troops during World War II. The artillery firing tables helped to predict where an artillery shell would hit, allowing troops to hit their targets more precisely or evade incoming shells. The first programs written for the ENIAC included a study of the hydrogen bomb's feasibility.


Techopedia Explains Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer (ENIAC)

The Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer design and construction was lead by Maj. Gen. Gladeon Marcus Barnes and financed by the Research and Development Command of the US Army Ordnance Corps. The contract for construction was signed on June 5, 1943 and secret work started in July at the Moore School of Electrical Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania under the codename "Project PX."

ENIAC was designed and proposed by John Mauchly 1942, but the concept was plagiarized from John Vincent Atanasoff who later won the lawsuit over this matter in 1972. ENIAC was designed to be a modular computer to be composed of individual panels that perform separate functions, and it was the first large-scale computer to run solely on electronic components without any mechanical parts slowing it down. Because of its design and 100 kHz clock, it could do 5000 cycles per second for operations on 10-digit numbers, as the basic machine cycle was 200 microseconds long. During one cycle, it could write and read from a register or add/subtract two numbers. Although it was initially designed for military applications, the ENIAC was also used to solve complex mathematics, engineering, and physics problems, and was programmed by manipulating a series of switches and cables.

The ENIAC team consisted of:

  • John Mauchly - Designer
  • J. Presper Eckert - Co-designer
  • Thomas Kite Sharpless - Master programmer
  • Robert F. Shaw - Function tables
  • Jeffrey Chuan Chu - Square-rooter/divider
  • Arthur Burks - Multiplier
  • Harry Huskey - Reader/printer
  • Jack Davis - Accumulators

Components of the ENIAC included:

  • 1,468 vacuum tubes
  • 70,000 resistors
  • 10,000 capacitors
  • 7,200 crystal diodes
  • 1,500 relays
  • 5,000,000 hand-soldered joints

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