We're observing ENIAC day today and the people that made IT happen. The Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer(ENIAC), developed at the University of Pennsylvania's Moore School of Electrical Engineering, was the first all electronic, programmable computer.ENIAC was formally dedicated seventy-five years ago today, on February 15, 1946.
The project was financed by the U.S. government, who wanted the technology to calculate artillery firing tables for the Army's Ballistic Research Laboratory. It's primary purpose after construction was in military use; one of ENIAC's first assignments was a series of computations to determine thefeasibilityof the hydrogen bomb.
In the aftermath of the project, programmers Ruth Lichterman Teitelbaum and Frances Bilas Spence traveled with ENIAC to its new home at the Army's Aberdeen Proving Ground, where they worked in training ENIAC's new programmers.
ENIAC's John Mauchly and J. Presper Eckertresigned from the University of Pennsylvania to form the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation in order to create new computer designs for both military and commercial applications, bringing with them ENIAC project team membersBetty Snyder Holbertonand Jean Jennings Bartik. They had hoped to bring along programmer Kay McNultyas 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. Shawalso went on to make significant contributions to the field, including to the development ofearly computers like EDVAC, AVIDAC, SEAC,SWAC, UNIVACand ORACLE.
This ca. 1947 photograph shows ENIAC with project team members, and was taken at the Moore School of Electrical Engineering. It is part of Hagley Library's collection ofSperry Corporation, UNIVAC Division photographs and audiovisual materials (Accession 1985.261). To view more material related to ENIAC in our Digital Archive, click here.