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The ENIAC's influence on business computing, 1940s-1950s

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1 Author(s)
J. W. Cortada ; IBM Corp., USA

To put a finer point on the influence of the ENIAC on IBM, engineers from the Endicott, New York, plant, specializing in input/output card equipment, visited the ENIAC while it was under construction and observed the use of a card reader with it. But as a general statement, what the ENIAC did to the office appliance and electrical supply firms during World War II was to call out the possibility that a new class of hardware was emerging. In the years following - that is to say, from 1946 to roughly 1951/1952 - the system confirmed that development. Electrical engineers at IBM, NCR, Burroughs, and GE took notice; although as time passed, they focused greater attention on computers that followed ENIAC, as there were nearly two dozen such projects underway in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Historians have carefully documented the work of Eckert and Mauchly in the 1940s, recording that the experiences they gained in building the ENIAC directly and explicitly influenced their work on several subsequent systems: the EDVAC, BINAC, and Univac. Explicitly, the ENIAC taught Eckert and Mauchly their initial lessons about building computers, providing insights that carried over to future projects.

Published in:

IEEE Annals of the History of Computing  (Volume:28 ,  Issue: 2 )