On this date, July 25, in 1946 the University of Pennsylvania's Moore School of Electrical Engineering completed work on Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC), the world's first successful, all electronic, general digital computer. The date marks the occasion on which the title to the completed ENIAC machine was transferred to the U.S. Mililtary's Ordnance Department.
The room-sized computer, which contained more than 18,000 vacuum tubes and weighed over 60,000 lbs, was developed using financing from the U.S. government, who wanted the technology to calculate artillery firing tables for the Army's Ballistic Research Laboratory.
Its primary use after construction was in calculating ballistic firing tables and designing atomic weapons; one of ENIAC's first assignments was a series of computations to determine the feasibility of the hydrogen bomb.
In the aftermath of the project to create ENIAC, programmers Ruth Lichterman Teitelbaum and Frances Bilas Spence traveled with the computer to its new home at the Army's Aberdeen Proving Ground, where they worked in training ENIAC's new programmers.
ENIAC's team leads John Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert, meanwhile, resigned from the University of Pennsylvania to form the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation. Their new enterprise created new computer designs for both military and commercial applications.
Mauchly and Eckert were joined by ENIAC project team members Betty Snyder Holberton and Jean Jennings Bartik. They had hoped to bring along programmer Kay McNulty as well; she instead chose to join Ruth Lichterman Teitelbaumat the Aberdeen Proving Ground, but later joined Mauchly in a different capacity. The two married in 1948.
In 1950, the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation was sold to Remington Rand, which later merged with Sperry Corporation to become Sperry Rand, the forerunner of today's Unisys Corporation.
ENIAC developers Arthur Burks, Jeffrey Chuan Chu, Jack Davis, Harry Huskey, Frank Mural, Thomas Kite Sharpless, and Robert F. Shaw also went on to make significant contributions to the field, including to the creation of early computers like EDVAC, AVIDAC, SEAC, SWAC, UNIVAC and ORACLE.
This gif has been excerpted from a 1945 film documenting the creation of the machine, and shows ENIAC with project team members at the Moore School of Electrical Engineering. It is part of Hagley Library's collection of Sperry Corporation, UNIVAC Division photographs and audiovisual materials (Accession 1985.261). To view more material related to ENIAC in our Digital Archive, click here.