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Eniac in ActionMaking and Remaking the Modern Computer$
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Thomas Haigh, Mark Priestley, and Crispin Rope

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780262033985

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262033985.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM MIT PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.mitpress.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright The MIT Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MITSO for personal use.date: 20 June 2021

Putting ENIAC to Work

Putting ENIAC to Work

Chapter:
(p.85) 4 Putting ENIAC to Work
Source:
Eniac in Action
Author(s):

Thomas Haigh

Mark Priestley

Crispin Rope

Publisher:
The MIT Press
DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262033985.003.0005

We begin with a discussion of the public launch of ENIAC in February 1946 as a carefully orchestrated scientific spectacle. We draw on oral history accounts and on archival sources, including seating plans, press releases, and records of the demonstration itself. We then consider ENIAC’s first year as an operational computer, during which its initial programming method was used on to run around a dozen applications at the Moore School. These are listed with brief discussion. We describe in some detail calculations performed by Douglas Hartree on supersonic airflow, the firing table calculations run as a public demonstration, and a mathematical experiment to detect prime numbers. These case studies integrate discussion of the various mathematical methods involved, the compromises and methods needed to adapt them for ENIAC, and the labor processes involved in running them on an often uncooperative machine in a chaotic environment.

Keywords:   Hartree, Douglas, Trajectory calculation, Bartik, Jean, McNulty, Kathlee, Lehmer, Derrick, Prime number

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