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Celebrating the birth of modern computing: the fiftieth anniversary of a discovery at the Moore School of Engineering of the University of Pennsylvania

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1 Author(s)
Winegrad, D. ; 627 Righters Mill Road, Narberth, PA USA

This article presents a brief overview of the ENIAC and its place in history. In order to indicate where a program was or whether a valve was malfunctioning, the ENIAC engineers attached small bulbs throughout the machine, which could convey this information to the programmers. For the purposes of the public demonstration in 1946, these tiny bulbs were made more prominent by the addition of translucent hemispheres that were actually halved ping-pong balls. Long after miniaturization made this feature redundant, sci-fi movies persist in presenting it as an essential element of the all-powerful computers whose control panels flash malevolently as they emit their sinister messages. A more substantial effect of development of the birth of the ENIAC in Philadelphia is that the city acquired a site important for being the place where ideas started a revolution. As the place where the first operating computer of its sort was constructed, the Moore School is one to which historians will continue to look as current events turn into history

Published in:

Annals of the History of Computing, IEEE  (Volume:18 ,  Issue: 1 )