J. Presper Eckert & John Mauchly

John W. Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert are the scientists credited with the invention of the Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer (ENIAC), the first general-purpose electronic digital computer, completed in 1946.

In 1942 Mauchly drafted a memo of the first large-scale digital electronic computer designed for general numerical computations. An official proposal was submitted in April of 1943, and the U.S. Army provided a grant for “Project PX,” which Mauchly and Eckert together undertook.

The ENIAC was borne out of a combination of many different design ideas. Mauchly, who was responsible for much of the overall design, is said to have been influenced by the work of Iowa State College professor John V. Atanasoff, who had designed and built an electronic computing device between 1937 and 1942. Eckert was the main project engineer for ENIAC.

In 1946 the pair left Moore school over a dispute about the handling of intellectual property developed at the University. They formed a computer company “Eckert–Mauchly Computer Corporation” (EMCC) to build the first commercial computers -the EDIVAC, BINAC and UNIVAC-1.

Fun facts:

  • The Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation (EMCC) was accused of hiring engineers with “communist leanings” and lost all its government contracts.
  • In 1950, EMCC was bailed out of it’s financial woes by Remington Rand Inc. (manufacturers of electric razors), and  became the “Univac Division of Remington Rand.” (which later became UNISYS)
  • In a publicity stunt, the UNIVAC computer was used to predict the results of the Eisenhower-Stevenson presidential race and correctly predicted that Eisenhower would win.

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