CHM Revolutionaries: The Man Who Invented the Computer with Author Jane Smiley

Length: 01:21:54  |  Rating: 4.26  |  Views: 4470

[Recorded: January 27, 2011] One night in the late 1930s, in a bar on the Iowa-Illinois border, John Vincent Atanasoff, a professor of physics at Iowa State University, after a frustrating day in his lab performing tedious mathematical calculations, hit on a revolutionary idea. He realized that the binary number system and electronic switches, combined with an array of capacitors on a moving drum to serve as memory, could yield a computing machine that would make his life and the lives of other similarly burdened scientists easier. Then he went back and built the machine. It worked. The whole world changed. Why don't we know the name of John Atanasoff as well as we know those of other computer pioneers like Alan Turing and John von Neumann? Atanasoff never secured a patent for his early device, and a number of the concepts he pioneered were incorporated into the breakthrough ENIAC computer that evolved into the legendary UNIVAC. But in 1973 a court declared that the patent on the Sperry Rand UNIVAC was invalid, opening the intellectual property gates to the computer revolution. In this lecture, Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Jane Smiley discusses the fascinating man who beat the world's greatest minds in the quest to develop the first true digital computing machine. Lot Number: X6018.2011 Catalog Number: 102702592