Today is ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer) Day, celebrating the dedication of this first computer at the Moore School of Engineering/Univ of Pennsylvania on March 15, 1946.
Johnny von Neumann was a celebrated Princeton mathematician that was heavily involved in the Manhattan Project during the War yrs. When he heard about development of the ENIAC at Moore, he instantly recognized its value to calculations for the design of a ThermoNuclear weapon. Though the ENIAC was designed to calculate firing tables for artillery shells for the USArmy, its actual first use was in the design of the Hydrogen bomb by LosAlamos scientists.
Johnny left Moore School and went to the IAS (Institute of Advanced Study) at Princeton to pursue his work on stored program computers. There, he planned to develop a machine (later called the JONIAC) based on his seminal ideas of stored program computing.
The original ENIAC was programmed by plugboard wiring. It would take several weeks of connecting wires into these plugboards to program a calculation. A little known fact is that all of these original programming was done by...women. The physicists & engineers considered it below their pay grade to actually do the programming of ENIAC. LosAlamos eventually, in the early '50's, developed their own version of the ENIAC, which Nick Metropolis labeled the MANIAC.

After serving in the War as a radar technician, Hewitt Crane went to work for IBM ('49-'52) as a computer maintenance technician. In 1952,he was tapped by von Neumann to come to the IAS. Johnny realized that to build his machine, his soldering skills were not up to the task and he needed someone good with a soldering iron (iron...not soldering gun). Hence HewCrane entered the scene. However, the hiring by Johnny at the IAS of a mere...pffffttt (in my finest Bill the Cat accent)...technician was thought to degrade the lofty principals upon which the IAS was founded. The physicists & mathematicians (including Albert Einstein and the renowned Kurt Godel) were up in arms over the hiring of Hew onto the IAS staff. Fortunately, their objections were overruled by the director of IAS, J.Robert Oppenheimer ("Oppie"), who had been the scientific director of the Manhattan Project during the war.

OK..we're getting there. After his stint at IAS, Hew then went to Calif to work for SRI (Stanford Research Institute), where he made many noteworthy contributions, including the electronic transmission of check images. In the late '50, Hew and other SRI scientists (Dave Bennion, Norm Rosen, Howard Ziedler) purchased an abandoned property high above PaloAlto on MonteBello Ridge, which had vnyds and a defunct winery. And, of course, the rest is history.

So to celebrate ENIAC Day, it is appropriate to hoist a glass of Ridge MonteBello or JimsomareZin to the memory of Hew and all these other early computer pioneers. Realizing, of course, your iPhone has within your hand the computing power that would dwarf that of the ENIAC.
Tom



Edited by TomHill (03-15-2019 08:05:38)