Introduction: John W. Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert
The world's first computer was built under classified conditions, welded together to support United States military ambitions in the war-torn years of World War II. An aspiring meteorologist and a recent college graduate teamed up to design and build the ENIACthe Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computerin the secure environment of the University of Pennsylvania Moore School of Engineering. The story of Dr. John W. Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert shows how the convergence of mathematical minds, research universities, and laboratories in the U.S. led the country into the Information Age.
Who were Mauchly and Eckert? What were their contributions to computing and electronics?
These pages hold the answers to these questions and tell of the achievements that took root in Mauchly and Eckert's innovation and dedication and grew to revolutionize computing technology in the U.S.
In the period after the creation of the ENIAC, army liaison officer to the project Herman Goldstine would reflect: "We were young and deeply involved. We felt like the whole war program depended on us...There was a real sense we were doing something very extraordinary" (qtd. in McCartney 86).
John Mauchly (far left) and Presper Eckert (far right) are pictured here with Major General Gladeon Barnes, head of research and development for the army ordnance, reviewing the ENIAC maintenance records. Collections of the University of Pennsylvania Archives, (Record ID #20020731003) (2.6M)