The ENIAC Project: Its Significance in Computer Science and Society

1973 Words Jun 23rd, 2018 8 Pages
The ENIAC Project: Its Significance in Computer Science and Society

“…With the advent of everyday use of elaborate calculations, speed has become paramount to such a high degree that there is no machine on the market today capable of satisfying the full demand of modern computational methods. The most advanced machines have greatly reduced the time required for arriving at solutions to problems which might have required months or days by older procedures. This advance, however, is not adequate for many problems encountered in modern scientific work and the present invention is intended to reduce to seconds such lengthy computations…” From the ENIAC patent (No. 3,120,606), filed 26 June 1947.

When World War II broke out in 1939
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However, both of these two men did most of the work on the ENIAC and deserve credit for its creation. The army deserves credit as well. Without the military’s discovery, driven by the emergency of lack of war technology, the ENIAC memo might never have been found and the project never initiated.

The ENIAC was an incredibly complex and gigantic machine for its time. Although simple calculators that were able to add and multiply had existed for several years, the ENIAC was unique for several reasons. The ENIAC had twenty individual accumulators, rapid adding machines, which were able to add digits 0 through 9 very quickly. The fascinating part of the accumulators was that they were able to remember and store each computation and use it later on. “ENIAC could discriminate between the sign of a number, compare quantities for equality, add, subtract, multiply, divide, and extract square roots. ENIAC stored a maximum of twenty 10 digit decimal numbers. Its accumulators combined the functions of an adding machine and storage unit. No central memory unit existed. Storage was localized within the functioning units of the computer.”(3)

What makes the ENIAC the first “digital” or personal computer is the fact that it had a central programming unit that would determine which accumulators to activate and what to do with their outputs. This central programming unit used repeating loops so that different units of the ENIAC could work at
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