ENIAC Day in Philadelphia

February 15 is ENIAC Day in Philadelphia commemorating the 1946 dedication of the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer. ENIAC was designed and primarily used to calculate artillery firing table for the US Army’s Ballistic Research Laboratory.

ENIAC was formally dedicated at the University of Pennsylvania and was heralded as a “Giant Brain” by the press. As ground breaking as ENIAC was, it was not the first computational machine. Professor John Atanasoff and graduate student Clifford Berry of Iowa State College had developed electronic digital computing device in 1942.

Apparently ENIAC designers had examined Atanasoff and Berry’s machine and were subsequently denied a patent. The long and controversial Honeywell vs. Sperry Rand case invalidated the 1964 patent for the ENIAC putting the electronic digital computer into public domain.


Two pieces of ENIAC currently on display in the Moore School of Engineering and Applied Science, in Room 100 of the Moore building. Copyright 2005 Paul W Shaffer, University of Pennsylvania. On the left is a function table (for reading in a table of data). There are four panels, the left-most one controls the interface to the function table. The third one is an accumulator – memory for storing a 10-digit number, which can be added into. It is made available in a CC BY-SA 3.0 license.

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