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Eckert and Mauchly: Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer (ENIAC), 1949

Predecessors: The Differential Analyzer

In 1930, an engineer named Vannevar Bush developed a machine called the Differential Analyzer on the campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The Differential Analyzer was composed of shafts, wires, wheels, pulleys and 1,000 gears, and was capable of solving only one type of problem. The Differential Analyzer was able to find the solution to differential equations, which are complex calculations that take into account rates of change and curves in order to describe happenings in the physical environment. Differential equations can describe the area lying under a curve or the path of a projectile. These equations were used for creating firing tables because they could describe the area beneath the path of a bullet, and could account for rates of change like high speed winds and high altitudes. The Differential Analyzer was essential to the solving of differential equations prior to the advent of ENIAC.