This Week In Vintage Hardware: The All-Electric “Calculator”
There’s some debate over whether Eniac was the world’s first all-electric calculator or whether it was technically a general-purpose computer, but there’s no denying that it was primarily for solving mathematical problems: its original purpose was actually to calculate artillery projectiles. It was 30 feet wide by 50 feet long and located at the Moore School in West Philadelphia. It wasn’t until 1946 that it was finally completed and information was released to the public about its existence. Eniac would later prove to be crucial in calculations needed to design the hydrogen bomb of World War II, as well as in artillery strikes. Though it wasn’t originally designed to be Turing-complete, it was found in 1998 that it just so happened to be. It ran slower than today’s hand calculators, and if there were more than ten digits being calculated it took close to 6 times as long to calculate. It wasn’t the most reliable machine either, as a tube would regularly blow out every other day; however, it was the first all-electric calculator and even though it was large, pricey, and frequently broke down, it was the first of its kind.