Computers: A Birthday Party for Eniac

Remembering the granddaddy of modern computers

A few weeks after Kay McNulty graduated from Philadelphia's Chestnut Hill College in 1942 with a degree in mathematics, she got a job at the Army's Ballistic Research Laboratory as a human "computer," calculating artillery trajectories. For three years she did the kind of mind-numbing mathematical drudgery--punching numbers into a mechanical calculator and copying down the results--that in those days was measured in "girl hours." Then she was invited by the University of Pennsylvania's Moore School of Electrical Engineering to help J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly put the finishing touches on a new kind of computing device called ENIAC (for...

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