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

The Scramble for Army Support

Dr. Goldstine was tasked with the direction of army operations at Penn and received orders to find a way to get firing tables completed faster. Mauchly's scheme to create an electronic calculator that would take the place of all the "computers" made its way to Goldstine, who immediately recognized the ingeniousness of Mauchly's proposal. Despite the lack of endorsement from Penn's deans, Goldstine tracked down Mauchly and invited him and Eckert to present their proposal at Aberdeen. On the drive to Aberdeen, Brainerd rode in the passenger seat behind an expression of doubt and disbelief that the army would entertain Mauchly's proposal. In the backseat, Mauchly and Eckert were hunched over the proposal in question, frantically re-writing some of the sections which they intended on presenting to the army.

At Aberdeen, Goldstine nervously began pitching the project to Colonel Leslie E. Simon, director of the Ballistics Research Laboratory, and Dr. Oswald Veblen, an accomplished mathematician and technical advisor to the army laboratory. Just a few months earlier, Aberdeen had approved the now-infamous Manhattan Project.

Irven Travis, Supervisor of Research at the Moore School of the University of Pennsylvania, indicated that ENIAC "represents a first step in the development of equipments of a new type; namely, of Electronic Digital Computers." You can read the full text of his comments to The Franklin Institute by clicking on the thumbnail at right.