For all his genius, John von Neumann was not, as he is generally credited, the true father of the modern computer. That honor belongs to the two men - John Mauchly and Presper Eckert - who built the world's first programmable computer, the legendary ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer). Mauchly and Eckert, who met in 1941, developed a revolutionary vision: to make electricity "think." Funded by the U.S. Army, the team they led constructed a behemoth - weighing 30 tons with 18,000 vacuum tubes and miles of wiring - that blazed a trail to the next generation of computers that quickly followed, and in the process ignited a controversy over ownership that exists to this day. After their groundbreaking achievement, Mauchly and Eckert were shadowed by personal tragedies and professional setbacks as their accomplishment was laid claim to by others. They formed the world's first computer company, the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation, but were quickly outdistanced by IBM.
Based on original interviews with surviving participants and the first study of Mauchly and Eckert's personal papers, ENIAC is a dramatic human story and a vital contribution to the history of technology, and it restores to the two inventors the legacy they deserve.
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