JF Ptak Science Books LLC Post 575
The ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer, b. 1943-45) was, basically, the world’s first operational, high-speed digital computer, and the father of the computer industry. What we see to the left is the floor plan for the computer-with-no-monitor—I know to most people working today with a computer that the idea of a “floor plan” for anything that is not in a dark place at NSA is not easily conceivable. The 30-ton, 18,000 tube, 125 KHz ENIAC’s space was about 1800 square feet, where it was able to add about 5000 numbers/second, which was vastly faster than anything else in existence. It operated with 70,000 resistors, 10,000 capacitors, 5 million hand-soldered joints and 6,000 manual switches. It was a magnificent achievement.
There are many sites dedicated to the history of the ENIAC—all I want to do here is surface this detailed floor plan of the computer, which seems not to be online. The diagram comes from an article by J.K. Brainerd and T.K. Sharpless (Sharp brain!), “The ENIAC”, from the February 1948 issue of Electrical Engineering, which defines the machine and its components in full. The abstract states: “The ENIAC is the only electronic large-scale general-purpose digital computing device now in operation. Its speed of operation compares favorably with other electric and mechanical computers. Developed under wartime pressures, it has been of value not only in producing results but in pointing the way toward improvements for future designs.” Indeed. The authors, both of whom worked on the construction of the machine from 1943 onwards, describe it in the following ten points:
“1. Large-scale 2.General purpose 3. Digital 4. Electronic 5. Uses 10-digit numbers 6. Uses decimal system 7. High speed 8. Synchronous operation 9. Some parallel operations possible 10. Complete flexibility within limits of programming capacity” (page 170).
The authors make the following (qualified) understatement: “electrical
engineers in the
have had a major interest in development of large-scale computing devices” mentioning the major players as MIT, Moore
The computers in operation from 1938 to 1948 include the following alphabetical hodgepodge: Z1 Z2 Z3 Z4, ABC, Bell Model II, S1, Mark I, Mark II, Elliot 152, ARC, Mark II, SSEM, and the more poetic Colossus and Demon. (Zuse Z1 1938; Atanasoff ABC 1939; Zuse Z2 1939; Bell Labs Complex Calculator aka Model I1940; Zuse Z3 1941; Zuse S1 1942; Bell Labs Model II; 1943 Bletchley Colossus Mark I 1943; Zuse S2 1943; Bletchley Colossus Mark II 1944; Harvard Mark I 1944; Zuse Z4 1944; Bell Labs Model IV 1945; Bell Labs Computer Model V 1947; Elliott 152 1947; Elliott 153 1947; Moore School ENIAC 1947; Birkbeck ARC 1948; Harvard Mark II 1948; Manchester University SSEM 1948; NSA DEMON 1948.)