A Marriage Made in Heaven: Computers and Communications



Introduction—The Computer Comes of Age

On February 14, 1996, Vice President Al Gore flew into Philadelphia to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the ENIAC, or Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer, the world’s first general-purpose digital computer. (The claim, as we will see, is disputable.) The thirty-ton machine was constructed under contract to the United States government. The machine, which had actually been used prior to the 1946 unveiling, was built to meet the needs of the U.S. Army Ordnance Corps to compute all army and air corps artillery firing tables. While in some respects ENIAC was a beginning, in other respects it was a culmination of many ...

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