Big Dimwits and Little Geniuses

Yesterday's klutzy machines have become today's micromarvels

The first electronic digital computer in the U.S., unveiled at the University of Pennsylvania in 1946, was a collection of 18,000 vacuum tubes, 70,000 resistors, 10,000 capacitors and 6,000 switches, and occupied the space of a two-car garage. Yet ENIAC (for Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator) was, in retrospect, a dimwit. When it worked, it did so only for short bursts because its tubes kept burning out. Built to calculate artillery firing tables, the half-million dollar ENIAC could perform 5,000 additions or subtractions per second. Today...

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