When John Mauchly and Presper Eckert developed the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC) at the University of Pennsylvania during World War II, their intention was to aid artillerymen in aiming their guns. Since then, in the past fifty years, ENIAC and its offspring have changed the way we go about both business and science. Along with the transistor, the computer has brought about transformation on a scale unmatched since the industrial revolution. Now, in a lively and evenhanded account, Joel Shurkin introduces us to the often-feuding players and the discoveries that made the computer possible-from the first models to the creation of the chip and beyond. Here is the first full account of an invention that changed the world. For this new paperback edition, Shurkin has added an epilogue and a new chapter on the latest milestones in the ongoing computer revolution.
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(211mm x 140mm x 28mm)
WW Norton & Co
Publisher: WW Norton & Co
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US Kirkus Review »
A serviceable addition to the growing stock of computer histories - concentrating on 19th- and 20th-century innovators and the controversies among them. Once again we meet Babbage and Byron's daughter, the luckless Ada Lovelace. The jump is made to early census-takers, the first punched cards, and the early WW II years at the U. of Pennsylvania's Moore School of Engineering. The pioneers of digital electronic computers, John Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert, are fleshed out from interviews and correspondence. They have been distinctly riled - apparently with reason - at von Neumann's being given credit for the idea of a computer-stored memory. (Note is also taken of the Iowa-based inventor - now with Navy Ordnance in Maryland - who lays claim to priority in computer design.) These disputes are variously traced to security leaks, lost memos, New York Times stories, patent disputes, papers published without credit to co-authors, and other academic or industrial crises. Shurkin enjoys the gossip and the rivalry - especially between the Moore School and MIT, where engineers were fixated on analog computers and peremptorily dismissed digital machines. In the more recent past, Shurkin recounts tales of Sperry Rand, Univac, IBM, and other well-known names; he ends with a brief look at the current drawing boards. Between Harry Wulforst's Breakthrough to the Computer Age and Robert Sobel's I.B.M., the ground has been exceedingly well covered - but this does both trim down and liven up the story. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Joel N. Shurkin
Joel Shurkin is a science writer and has run the science journalism internship at Stanford University. A former reporter for UPI and Reuters and science editor for the Philadelphia Inquirer, he was a lead writer on the team that won a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of Three Mile Island.