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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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(p.275) Conclusion
Eniac in Action

Thomas Haigh

Mark Priestley

Crispin Rope

The MIT Press

This concluding chapter engages with key ideas from treatments of ENIAC by authors such as Jennifer S. Light and Nathan Ensmenger to explore ENIAC’s legacy in areas such as computer programming, computer center organization, and computer simulation. It is inspired by the treatment of ENIAC’s historiographic role by the late Michael S. Mahoney in his provocative essay “The Histories of Computing(s).” Mahoney challenged the assumed centrality of ENIAC to all history of computing narratives. Having shown in the previous chapter how this perceived position developed over time we can now make a balanced reappraisal, arguing that ENIAC’s influence was profound and underappreciated in some areas but has been overstated or misinterpreted in others. One important topic is the idea that ENIAC’s operators were the “first computer programmers,” a description that distorts their actual relationship to the machines.

Keywords:   Mahoney, Michael S, Light, Jennifer S, Ensmenger, Nathan, Batik, Jean, ENIAC, Computer use

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