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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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EDVAC and the First Draft

EDVAC and the First Draft

(p.129) 6 EDVAC and the First Draft
Eniac in Action

Thomas Haigh

Mark Priestley

Crispin Rope

The MIT Press

This chapter charts the rapid evolution of thinking about programming and computer architecture among members of the ENIAC team from 1944 onward, as what is usually called the “stored program concept” was formulated with John von Neumann and presented in the “First Draft of a Report on the EDVAC.” Use of archival sources makes this more specific and rigorous in documenting this process than any previous published account, presenting the new approach as an evolution of, and response to, the original ENIAC programming method. The ideas present in the “First Draft” are clearly explained and separated into three distinct clusters: the “EDVAC hardware paradigm,” the “von Neumann architecture paradigm,” and the “modern code paradigm.” The chapter finishes with an exploration of initial understanding and reception of these ideas, reconstructing the late-1940s consensus on what was important about the new approach and why.

Keywords:   Von Neumann, John, Von Neumann architecture, EDVAC, Computer architecture

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