History of the Computer Industry in America

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“The Computer”
It’s History and Spot in American Society

“The Computer”
It’s History and Spot in American Society

It is not very often that a new invention comes about and touches every aspect of our lives. Such a device that changes the way we work, live, and play is a special one, indeed. A machine that has done all this and more now exists in nearly every business in the U.S. and in one out of every two households. This incredible invention is the computer. The electronic computer has been around for over a half-century, but its ancestors have been around for 2000 years. However, only in the last 40 years has it changed the American society. From the first wooden abacus to the latest high-speed
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The outbreak of World War II produced a desperate need for computing capability, especially for the military. New weapons systems were produced which needed trajectory tables and other essential data (Hitmill).
In 1942, John P. Eckert, John W. Mauchley, and their associates at the University of Pennsylvania decided to build a high-speed electronic computer to do the job. This machine became known as ENIAC, for Electrical Numerical Integrator And Calculator. It could multiply two numbers at the rate of 300 products per second, by finding the value of each product from a multiplication table stored in its memory. ENIAC was thus about 1,000 times faster than the previous generation of computers. It used 18,000 standard vacuum tubes, occupied 1800 square feet of floor space, used about 180,000 watts of electricity, and used punch card input and output. The ENIAC was very difficult to program because one had to essentially re-wire it to perform whatever task the computer was required to do (Bellis). It was, however, efficient in handling the particular programs for which it had been designed. ENIAC is generally accepted as the first successful high-speed electronic digital computer and was used in many applications from 1946 to 1955.
Mathematician John von Neumann was very interested in the ENIAC. In 1945, he undertook a theoretical study of computation that
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