Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
John William Mauchly (August 30, 1907 – January 8, 1980) was an American physicist and computer engineer who, along with J. Presper Eckert, designed ENIAC, long held to be the first electronic digital computer, and UNIVAC I, the first commercial computer made in the United States. He was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, grew up in Chevy Chase, Maryland, and died in Ambler, Pennsylvania. Mauchly led the conceptual design while Eckert led the hardware engineering on ENIAC. Mauchly's ENIAC design borrowed many concepts from computer pioneer John Atanasoff without attribution. This oversight led to a patent law dispute, which was resolved in Atanasoff's favor by Federal Court decision in 1973. Some have called ENIAC a general purpose computer since it could be reprogrammed but "reprogramming" involved several days of rewiring until it was modified in 1948. Nevertheless, ENIAC was an impressive accomplishment for its time.
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