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ENIAC (pronounced /ˈɛni.æk/), short for Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer,[1][2] was the first general-purpose, electronic computer. It was a Turing-complete, digital computer capable of being reprogrammed to solve a full range of computing problems.[3]

ENIAC was designed to calculate artillery firing tables for the United States Army's Ballistic Research Laboratory, but its first use was in calculations for the hydrogen bomb.[4][5] When ENIAC was announced in 1946 it was heralded in the press as a "Giant Brain". It boasted speeds one thousand times faster than electro-mechanical machines, a leap in computing power that no single machine has since matched. This mathematical power, coupled with general-purpose programmability, excited scientists and industrialists. The inventors promoted the spread of these new ideas by teaching a series of lectures on computer architecture.

The ENIAC's design and construction was financed by the United States Army during World War II. The construction contract was signed on June 5, 1943, and work on the computer began in secret by the University of Pennsylvania's Moore School of Electrical Engineering starting the following month under the code name "Project PX". The completed machine was unveiled on February 14, 1946 at the University of Pennsylvania, having cost almost $500,000 (nearly $6 million in 2008, adjusted for inflation). It was formally accepted by the U.S. Army Ordnance Corps in July 1946. ENIAC was shut down on November 9, 1946 for a refurbishment and a memory upgrade, and was transferred to Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland in 1947. There, on July 29, 1947, it was turned on and was in continuous operation until 11:45 p.m. on October 2, 1955.[2]

ENIAC was conceived and designed by John Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert of the University of Pennsylvania.[6] The team of design engineers assisting the development included Robert F. Shaw (function tables), Chuan Chu (divider/square-rooter), Thomas Kite Sharpless (master programmer), Arthur Burks (multiplier), Harry Huskey (reader/printer) and Jack Davis (accumulators).


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