Comments on: Happy Birthday ENIAC The First General-Purpose Electronic Computer Thu, 10 Feb 2011 22:01:35 +0000 hourly 1 By: Bill Thu, 10 Feb 2011 22:01:35 +0000 Steve, it sounds like you know quite a lot about this. Did you study the actual trial briefs? maybe we could talk. – Bill Mauchly

By: steve Thu, 10 Feb 2011 04:00:37 +0000 Being a lawyer, you could probably show quite effectively the legal farce which the patent trial was.
A few points might help here. IBM contacted both Atanasoff and Berry in 1955 with the intention of invalidating the Eniac patent. They obtained requested documents from both and spoke to them concerning their work. After very thorough investigation into this, IBM concluded that there was no basis for the claim that the Eniac was derived from the Atanasoff’s ABC. IBM then reached an agreement with Sperry, who held the Eniac patent, to use the patent for a fee.
They would have to pursue some other argument to invalidate the patent and chose the patent delay route. This was of course not necessary after the Honeywell case which included the same argument.
The second point is that Mauchly’s trip to Iowa as presented by Honeywell was riddled with falsehoods. Mauchly effectively spent four days in Iowa. He arrived very late on friday night and left on wednesday morning. The University was closed the weekend and he only got a working view of it on Monday when Berry was available. Berry, not Atanasoff, designed the ABC. Mauchly said he spent a few hours with the computer which is probably correct since Atanasoff said that he spent six hours total with it. Mauchly did not spend five or six days with it.
So what was Mauchly doing the rest of the time? As it turn out, quite a few OTHER things. He made a presentation at a seminar on the campus dealing with his Harmonic Analyser which he designed and built. There was also an ongoing conference on campus on statistics and Mauchly attended a few sessions. Iowa was famous nationally for its Statistics research and Mauchly had a deep interest in this branch of mathematics. He also spoke to other physicists on the campus whose works he had read. All this was done on only two days monday and tuesday. At the trial, Mauchly was not well. He was ambushed by the plaintiffs lawyers and succumbed easily because of his memory and health and the passage of time.
So it turns out he was busy doing many other things, not “engrossed” in the non-functioning ABC as the highly coached plaintiff’s witnesses stated.
Well I hope these two points are of some help in showing that the information is there to put this matter to rest once and for all and correct a very disgraceful event. Smiley’s overhyped book is a product of pure evil. I dont know why she is getting so much publicity.

By: Larrick Stapleton Wed, 09 Feb 2011 02:39:06 +0000 I was a long time friend and attorney for Pres Eckert and spent years vainly trying to get him to write a memoir of the history of his work with John Mauchley – which Pres discussed with me over time, in bits and pieces. I was astounded at the Smiley book and thought all of this had been put to rest by “Engines of the Mind.” I have a deep and lasting fondness for Pres and remain honored to have known him. I would like to do whatever I could to preserve and enhance his and Mauchley’s reputation to their rightful place in history and would love to speak with Bill Mauchley. I am pleased that you have this work going and would like to add what little I could to it. Larrick Stapleton