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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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ENIAC Arrives at the Ballistic Research Lab

ENIAC Arrives at the Ballistic Research Lab

(p.111) 5 ENIAC Arrives at the Ballistic Research Lab
Eniac in Action

Thomas Haigh

Mark Priestley

Crispin Rope

The MIT Press

In 1947 ENIAC was unpacked and installed at the Ballistic Research Laboratory in Aberdeen, Maryland. This chapter explores its first fifteen months there, beginning with some context about the mission and organization of the laboratory. It depicts ENIAC as one of several automatic computers in use there, seen at the time as a device with particular strengths and weaknesses but broadly comparably to electromechanical relay computers in its abilities. Drawing on a previously neglected source, the ENIAC Operations log, it reconstructs the challenges and frustrations involved in attempting to work with electronic computers during this era. Discussion focuses on the two main known problems it ran during this period – interpreting flight data from V2 missiles and creating tables for the analysis of statistical outliers.

Keywords:   Hoffleit, Dorrit, Grubbs, Frank, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Ballistic Research Laboratory, V2 missile, Relay computer, ENIAC

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