Exhibits At the Museum

This Day in History

Today: April 18, 2015

April 10, 1943

"ENIAC" Project Underway

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania begin work on the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC), a machine capable of the then-remarkable speed of 5,000 additions per second. ENIAC was shrouded in wartime secrecy since its main purpose was to compute "firing tables" for artillery shells. Before ENIAC, this was done by women (called "computers") working in large groups at mechanical desktop calculators. ENIAC was not completed until after the war (February 1946) but a generation of computer designers learned from its design and from the summer course given by Eckert and Mauchly at the Moore School. ENIAC could solve a wide range of general purpose computing problems, however, and was booked for two years in 1948. The ENIAC becomes public upon its completion in February 1946, when project leaders John Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert proudly show off 1,000 square feet of plugs, switches, and lights that calculate 1,000 times faster than other machines at the time.