john mauchly and presper eckert

John Mauchly and Presper Eckert

            The advent and the continuing development of technology opened a number of possibilities and opportunities. It not just makes things faster but it also makes possible the things that have been considered as impossible. The discovery of computers and microchips are two of the well-known technology identifications. And during its breakthrough, several inventors and scientists emerged such as John Mauchly and Presper Eckert. John Mauchly and Presper Eckert are two renowned inventors of the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC), the first general-purpose electronic computer.

Figure 1. John Mauchly

John Mauchly was born on August 30, 1907 at Cincinnati, Ohio. He enrolled his undergraduate at Johns Hopkins University during 1925 and achieved a degree in just two years. He then immediately registered at John Hopkins University graduate program in physics and obtained his doctorate in 1932. From 1933-1941, he was a physics professor at Ursinus College in Pennsylvania. In 1941, he then enrolled at the Moore School of Engineering at the University of

Pennsylvania to pursue higher education. All through those times, he became friends with J. Presper Eckert, a graduate of Moore School (“John Mauchly”).

Figure 2. J. Presper Eckert

John Presper Eckert, on the contrary, was born on April 9, 1919. He attended college in the University of Pennsylvania where he obtained Bachelor of Science (1941) and Master of Science (1943) in Electrical Engineering. In 1964, he acquired an honorary Doctorate in Science from the mentioned University (Allison). In 1943, he became a researcher at Moore School of the

University of Pennsylvania when he started working

with John Mauchly on the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC) (“John Presper Eckert”).

Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC)

            ENIAC was the machine designed by Mauchly and Eckert. Its very idea came in 1941 when Mauchly paid a visit to Dr. Vincent Atanasoff of Iowa State University. During the meeting, Atanasoff discussed his research on using electronics for numerical computation. Because of that experience, Mauchly drew his idea and got together with Eckert to sketch the design of the automatic computer used for computing and solving the differential equations for the Ordnance Department (Richey).

Figure 3. The ENIAC

Figure 4. The ENIAC: other parts

ENIAC was the biggest and most powerful early computer created to calculate the paths of artillery shells and to compute problems in different fields including nuclear physics, aerodynamics and weather prediction. It was the United States Army Ordnance Department who subsidized the Moore School for Electrical Engineering of the University of Pennsylvania to construct the computer between 1943 and 1945.

The ENIAC calculated a thousand times faster than any existing machine and device (Allison).

            ENIAC was finished and completed in 1946. It has 500 000 hand linked connections and utilized punch cards to save and store data. It was used by Army for military calculations (“John Presper Eckert”). However after the war, it was employed for top-secret projects such as the development of nuclear weapons. It was somehow bigger than most modern computers. It was about seven feet in height and 65 feet in length. ENIAC was 1000 times faster than the processors discovered prior it. Subsequent to its invention, Eckert and Mauchly developed the Universal Automatic Computer (UNIVAC), the first computer that Americans could purchase in the United States (“John Presper Eckert, Jr.”)

Universal Automatic Computer I (UNIVAC I)

            The Universal Automatic Computer I was the first commercially available computer in the United States. In 1948, its model was drawn and started by Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation. It was completed in the year 1951 and was delivered to the United States Bureau of the Census. All through those times, Eckert-Mauchly was obtained by Remington Rand, Inc. (“Univac I”).There were a total of 46 UNIVAC I computers delivered, all of which were already phased out, during 1951 to 1958 (“UNIVAC”).

Figure 5. The UNIVAC

It was in 1947 when Mauchly coined the name UNIVAC for their company’s product. The Prudential Insurance Company was the first one to buy a UNIVAC. In 1952, the UNIVAC triumphantly predicted the result of the 1952 presidential election in a televised news broadcast. In 1954, the General Electric’s Appliance Division built the first successful industrial payroll application (“UNIVAC”).

            UNIVAC I was very much different from the early computers because it could manage both alphabetical characters and numbers equally. It was a high-speed, general-purpose electronic data processing system. One of its remarkable features was it could separate complex problems of input and output from the actual computational facility (“Univac I”). Mercury delay lines were utilized to save the computer’s program. The program computed within lines in the manner of acoustical planes which could be read from the line and written into it (“UNIVAC”).

            UNIVAC was 25 feet by 50 feet in length. It encompassed 5600 tubes, 18 000 crystal diodes and 300 relays. It used serial circuitry of 2.5 MHz bit rate. It possessed an internal storage capacity of 1,000 words or 12,000 characters (“UNIVAC”). The rate of the basic arithmetic functions were 0.525ms for addition and subtraction, 2.150ms for multiplication, 3.890 for division and 0.365 for comparison (“Univac I”). It was primarily used for universal function and general purpose of calculating huge amounts of input and output (“UNIVAC”).

Mauchly and Eckert

            The discovery of the two earliest computers would never be possible if not for the two talents of the University of Pennsylvania. Their intelligences have been the foundations and stepping stones of today’s technology and inventions especially with regards to computers. The narrative about Mauchly and Eckert revealed how the convergence of mathematical minds, research universities and laboratories in United States directed and led the country into the Information Age (“Introduction: John W. Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert”).

Figure 6. Eckert and Mauchly

            John William Mauchly and John Presper Eckert were the two scientists who have been credited for the discovery of the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer, the first general-purpose computer completed in 1946. After the completion and announcement of the ENIAC, Mauchly and Eckert built the Electronic Controls Company. Eckert was said to be the one who designed the computer system while Mauchly was the one who conducted the research into the potential and possible uses and functions of electronic computers. The research on ENIAC eventually led to the discovery and invention of the Universal Automatic Computer (“The Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC)”).

            Because of those discoveries, the ENIAC and the UNVAC I, Eckert and Mauchly became greatly recognized and acknowledged with numerous honors and awards for their contributions in the information industry. Both of them received the United States National Medal of Science during the year 1969 and the IEEE Computer Society Pioneer Award in 1980 (“The Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC)”).

The aforementioned inventors have made a mark in history in the field of mathematics and technology. Their mastery on numbers, innovations and state-of-the-art machines built an outstanding discovery in the world. Their inventions bestowed proof that larger numbers and complex mathematical equations could be solved and calculated in just a number of milliseconds.

Works Cited

Allison, David. 1988. “Presper Eckert Interview.” Smithsonian Institution Archives. 05 March 2009 <>.

“Introduction: John W. Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert.” 2009. The Franklin Institute. 05 March 2009 <>.

“John Mauchly.” 2006. Ohio History Central. 05 March 2009 <>.

 “John Presper Eckert.” 2001. The History of Computing Project. 05 March 2009


“John Presper Eckert, Jr.” 2006. California Energy Commission. 05 March 2009 <>.

Richey, Kevin. 1997. “The ENIAC.” Virginia Tech. 05 March 2009


“The Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC).” 2003. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Inventor of the Week. 05 March 2009


“UNIVAC.” 2007. The History of Computing Project. 05 March 2009.


“Univac I.” n.d. Transylvania University. 05 March 2009 <>.

List of Figures

“Eckert and Mauchly.” 2006. Ohio History Central. 05 March 2009 <>.

“John Mauchly.” 2008. John William Mauchly: 1907-1980. 05 March 2009 <>.

“John Presper Eckert.” 2008. J. Presper Eckert: 1919-1995. 05 March 2009 <>.

“The ENIAC.” 1997. The ENIAC. 05 March 2009


“The ENIAC: Other Parts.” 1997. The ENIAC. 05 March 2009


“The UNIVAC.” n.d. Transylvania University. 05 March 2009 <>.


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