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How ENIAC worked | ENIAC - The first general-purpose electronic computer
This web site is devoted to ENIAC — “Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer”. ENIAC was the first general-purpose electronic computer. It was made at the University of Pennsylvania’s Moore School of Electrical Engineering during World War II under the code name "Project PX". Physics professor John W. Mauchly and electrical engineer J. Presper Eckert led the team. Both were civilian employees whose computer work was funded by the United States Army Ballistics Research Laboratory. This is a collection of the best online information about the ENIAC and the people that created it. (The information is divided into these categories - Select a link or scroll down to read the blog.)

History and technology

People and stories

Was it the first computer?

UNIVAC and beyond

The ENIAC patent trial

Myths about ENIAC

ENIACtion on Facebook


Where to learn more

ENIAC history and technology

ENIAC was a beast of a computer. It weighed 30 tons and filled an entire classroom. It was the epitome of an overwhelming “Giant Brain” of the sort that spawned countless science fiction movies. It had to wait for a major upgrade before its program moved from tedious patch cords into lightning-fast electronic memory, diagnosis and since microchips nor even transistors existed, shop it instead used more than 17, capsule 000 vacuum tubes. There was only one ENIAC ever built. But it was the first fully electronic general-purpose computer. It was used mainly for military and scientific research applications such as aeronautics, ballistics, meteorology, and nuclear weapons. It remained in operation until 1955.

The links on this page describe how ENIAC was built, how it worked, and what it was like to operate it.


Army Research Lab History of Computing (Mike Muuss) – Contains many articles of technical information, mostly from the Army perspective

Brainerd and Sharpless on the ENIAC (Proceedings of the IEEE) – An overview from two important role players in the computer’s development

Electronic Computing Circuits of the ENIAC (Proceedings of the IRE) – Design details about ENIAC’s flip-flops and counting circuits

Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (IEEE Annals of the History of Computing) – This was the most widely circulated technical paper about ENIAC upon the computer’s debut

ENIAC As a Stored-Program Computer: A New Look at the Old Records (IEEE Annals of the History of Computing) – A look at how ENIAC improved after its major upgrade at the Aberdeen Proving Ground

ENIAC: Press Conference That Shook the World (IEEE Technology and Society) – ENIAC’s impact on society via media coverage of its public launch

ENIAC – Problem Solver (IEEE Annals of the History of Computing) – Overview of ENIAC’s applications and the people who prepared them

Exploring the Architecture of an Early Machine: the Historical Relevance of the ENIAC Machine Architecture (IEEE Annals of the History of Computing) – ENIAC’s architecture especially regarding its ability to do conditional branching

How the ENIAC Took a Square Root (Brian Shelburne) – Detailed mathematical analysis of, you guessed it, how ENIAC did square roots

Programming the ENIAC (Columbia University) – ENIAC was a groundbreaking computer, but its weakest link was the tedious programming method

Report on the ENIAC (Adele Goldstine) – The closest document ever created to an ENIAC user’s manual

Second life of ENIAC (IEEE Annals of the History of Computing) – ENIAC’s transformation from university experiment to coveted research tool

Stored Programs in ENIAC (Datamation) – A letter to the editor, from Mauchly


From ENIAC To UNIVAC: An Appraisal of the Eckert-Mauchly Computers (Nancy Stern) – This book is “the bible” of ENIAC history

ENIAC: The Triumphs and Tragedies of the World’s First Computer (Scott McCartney) – A very readable lay history of Mauchly, Eckert, and ENIAC


John W. Mauchly and the Development of the ENIAC Computer (University of Pennsylvania) – The Moore School’s official ENIAC shrine

ENIAC Simulator (Till Zoppke) (Article) – Run an ENIAC simulator on your PC

ENIAC-on-a-Chip (University of Pennsylvania) – A modern project that shows how ordinary microchips are far more advanced than ENIAC ever was

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