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What Does It Mean To Be The First Computer?

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1 Author(s)
Williams, M.R. ; Dept. of Comput. Sci., Calgary Univ., Alta.

John Vincent Atanasoff has been called the father of the computer and his machine, the Atanasoff-Berry Computer, is known as the first electronic digital computer. This paper examines these statements, not from the point of view of the usual computer scientist, but from that of the professional historian. What does it mean to be first? Is it important to be first? On what basis is the claim made? What other devices might be considered to share this honor? We provide an historian's view of these questions and illustrate them with examples from the early history of computing machines. We hope these examples indicate that a professional historian looks at these questions differently than most

Published in:

Modern Computing, 2006. JVA '06. IEEE John Vincent Atanasoff 2006 International Symposium on

Date of Conference:

3-6 Oct. 2006