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John Mauchly

John Mauchly

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John William Mauchly was an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 physicist
Physicist
A physicist is a scientist who studies or practices physics. Physicists study a wide range of physical phenomena in many branches of physics spanning all length scales: from sub-atomic particles of which all ordinary matter is made to the behavior of the material Universe as a whole...

 who, along with J. Presper Eckert
J. Presper Eckert
John Adam Presper "Pres" Eckert Jr. was an American electrical engineer and computer pioneer. With John Mauchly he invented the first general-purpose electronic digital computer , presented the first course in computing topics , founded the first commercial computer company , and...

, designed ENIAC
ENIAC
ENIAC was the first general-purpose electronic computer. It was a Turing-complete digital computer capable of being reprogrammed to solve a full range of computing problems....

, the first general purpose electronic digital computer, as well as EDVAC
EDVAC
EDVAC was one of the earliest electronic computers. Unlike its predecessor the ENIAC, it was binary rather than decimal, and was a stored program computer....

, BINAC
BINAC
BINAC, the Binary Automatic Computer, was an early electronic computer designed for Northrop Aircraft Company by the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation in 1949. Eckert and Mauchly, though they had started the design of EDVAC at the University of Pennsylvania, chose to leave and start EMCC, the...

 and UNIVAC I
UNIVAC I
The UNIVAC I was the first commercial computer produced in the United States. It was designed principally by J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly, the inventors of the ENIAC...

, the first commercial computer made in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

.

Together they started the first computer company, the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation
Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation
The Eckert–Mauchly Computer Corporation was founded by J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly, and was incorporated on December 22, 1947. After building the ENIAC at the University of Pennsylvania, Eckert and Mauchly formed EMCC to build new computer designs for commercial and military applications...

 (EMCC), and pioneered fundamental computer concepts including the stored program, subroutines, and programming languages. Their work, as exposed in the widely read First Draft of a Report on the EDVAC
First Draft of a Report on the EDVAC
The First Draft of a Report on the EDVAC was an incomplete 101-page document written by John von Neumann and distributed on June 30, 1945 by Herman Goldstine, security officer on the classified ENIAC project...

(1945) and as taught in the Moore School Lectures
Moore School Lectures
Theory and Techniques for Design of Electronic Digital Computers was a course in the construction of electronic digital computers held at the University of Pennsylvania's Moore School of Electrical Engineering between July 8, 1946 and August 30, 1946, and was the first time any computer topics had...

 (1946), influenced an explosion of computer development in the late 1940s all over the world.

Early life and education


Mauchly was born on August 30, 1907 in Cincinnati, Ohio
Cincinnati, Ohio
Cincinnati is a city in the U.S. state of Ohio. Cincinnati is the county seat of Hamilton County. Settled in 1788, the city is located to north of the Ohio River at the Ohio-Kentucky border, near Indiana. The population within city limits is 296,943 according to the 2010 census, making it Ohio's...

. He grew up in Chevy Chase, Maryland
Chevy Chase, Maryland
Chevy Chase is the name of both a town and an unincorporated census-designated place in Montgomery County, Maryland. In addition, a number of villages in the same area of Montgomery County include "Chevy Chase" in their names...

 while his father Sebastian Mauchly was a physicist at the Carnegie Institute of Washington, D.C. He earned the Engineering Scholarship of the State of Maryland, which enabled him to enroll at Johns Hopkins University
Johns Hopkins University
The Johns Hopkins University, commonly referred to as Johns Hopkins, JHU, or simply Hopkins, is a private research university based in Baltimore, Maryland, United States...

 in the fall of 1925 as an undergraduate in the Electrical Engineering program. In 1927 he enrolled directly in a Ph.D. program there and transferred to the graduate physics program of the university. He completed his Ph.D. in 1932 and became a professor of physics at Ursinus College
Ursinus College
Ursinus College is a liberal arts college in Collegeville, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.-History:1867Members of the German Reformed Church begin plans to establish a college where "young men could be liberally educated under the benign influence of Christianity." These founders were hoping to...

 near Philadelphia, where he taught from 1933 to 1941. At Ursinus he worked for several years developing a digital electronic computing machine to test the theory that solar fluctuations, sun spots in particular, affect our weather.

Moore School


In 1941 Dr. Mauchly took a course in wartime electronics at the Moore School of Electrical Engineering
Moore School of Electrical Engineering
The Moore School of Electrical Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania came into existence as a result of an endowment from Alfred Fitler Moore on June 4, 1923. It was granted to Penn's School of Electrical Engineering, located in the Towne Building...

, part of the University of Pennsylvania
University of Pennsylvania
The University of Pennsylvania is a private, Ivy League university located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. Penn is the fourth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States,Penn is the fourth-oldest using the founding dates claimed by each institution...

. There he met J. Presper Eckert
J. Presper Eckert
John Adam Presper "Pres" Eckert Jr. was an American electrical engineer and computer pioneer. With John Mauchly he invented the first general-purpose electronic digital computer , presented the first course in computing topics , founded the first commercial computer company , and...

, a recent Moore School graduate. Mauchly accepted a teaching position at the Moore School, which was a center for wartime computing. Eckert encouraged Mauchly to believe that vacuum tubes could be made reliable with proper engineering practices. The critical problem that was consuming the Moore School was ballistics: the calculation of firing tables for the large number of new guns that the U.S. Army was developing for the war effort.

ENIAC


In 1942 Mauchly wrote a memo proposing the building of a general-purpose electronic computer. The proposal, which circulated within the Moore School (but the significance of which was not immediately recognized), emphasized the enormous speed advantage that could be gained by using digital electronics with no moving parts. Lieutenant Herman Goldstine, who was the liaison between the United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 and Moore School, picked up on the idea and asked Mauchly to write a formal proposal. In April 1943, the Army contracted with the Moore School to build the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC
ENIAC
ENIAC was the first general-purpose electronic computer. It was a Turing-complete digital computer capable of being reprogrammed to solve a full range of computing problems....

). Mauchly led the conceptual design while Eckert led the hardware engineering on ENIAC. A number of other talented engineers contributed to the confidential "Project PX".

Because of its high-speed calculations, ENIAC could solve problems that were previously unsolvable. It was roughly a thousand times faster than the existing technology. It could add 5,000 numbers or do 357 10-digit multiplications in one second.

ENIAC could be programmed to perform sequences and loops of addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, square-root, input/output
Input/output
In computing, input/output, or I/O, refers to the communication between an information processing system , and the outside world, possibly a human, or another information processing system. Inputs are the signals or data received by the system, and outputs are the signals or data sent from it...

 functions, and conditional branches. Programming was initially accomplished with patch cords and switches, and reprogramming took days. It was redesigned in 1948 to allow the use of stored programs with some loss in speed.

In 2002, for his work on ENIAC he was inducted, posthumously, into the National Inventors Hall of Fame
National Inventors Hall of Fame
The National Inventors Hall of Fame is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to recognizing, honoring and encouraging invention and creativity through the administration of its programs. The Hall of Fame honors the men and women responsible for the great technological advances that make human,...

.

EDVAC


The ENIAC design was frozen in 1944 to allow construction. Eckert and Mauchly were already aware of the limitations of the machine and began plans on a second computer, to be called EDVAC. By January 1945 they had procured a contract to build this stored-program computer. Eckert had proposed a mercury
Mercury (element)
Mercury is a chemical element with the symbol Hg and atomic number 80. It is also known as quicksilver or hydrargyrum...

 delay line memory
Delay line memory
Delay line memory was a form of computer memory used on some of the earliest digital computers. Like many modern forms of electronic computer memory, delay line memory was a refreshable memory, but as opposed to modern random-access memory, delay line memory was serial-access...

 to store both program and data. Later that year, mathematician John von Neumann
John von Neumann
John von Neumann was a Hungarian-American mathematician and polymath who made major contributions to a vast number of fields, including set theory, functional analysis, quantum mechanics, ergodic theory, geometry, fluid dynamics, economics and game theory, computer science, numerical analysis,...

 learned of the project and joined in some of the engineering discussions. He produced what was understood to be an internal document describing the EDVAC.

The term von Neumann architecture
Von Neumann architecture
The term Von Neumann architecture, aka the Von Neumann model, derives from a computer architecture proposal by the mathematician and early computer scientist John von Neumann and others, dated June 30, 1945, entitled First Draft of a Report on the EDVAC...

 arose from von Neumann's paper, First Draft of a Report on the EDVAC
First Draft of a Report on the EDVAC
The First Draft of a Report on the EDVAC was an incomplete 101-page document written by John von Neumann and distributed on June 30, 1945 by Herman Goldstine, security officer on the classified ENIAC project...

. Dated June 30, 1945, it was an early written account of a general purpose stored-program computing machine (the EDVAC
EDVAC
EDVAC was one of the earliest electronic computers. Unlike its predecessor the ENIAC, it was binary rather than decimal, and was a stored program computer....

). Goldstine, in a move that was to become controversial, removed any reference to Eckert or Mauchly and distributed the document to a number of von Neumann's associates across the country. The ideas became widely known within the very small world of computer designers.

Besides the lack of credit, Eckert and Mauchly suffered additional setbacks due to Goldstine's actions. The ENIAC patent , issued in 1964 was filed on June 26, 1947, and granted February 4, 1964, but the public disclosure of design details of EDVAC in the First Draft (which were also common to ENIAC) was later cited as one cause for the 1973 invalidation of the ENIAC patent
Honeywell v. Sperry Rand
Honeywell, Inc. v. Mc'Donalds., et al. 180 USPQ 673 was a landmark U.S. federal court case that in April 1973 invalidated the 1964 patent for the ENIAC, the world's first general-purpose electronic digital computer, thus putting the invention of the electronic digital computer into the public...

.

The Moore School Lectures



In March 1946, just after the ENIAC was announced, the Moore School decided to change their patent policy, in order to gain commercial rights to any future and past computer development there. Eckert and Mauchly decided this was unacceptable; they resigned. However they had already been contracted to do one more thing at the Moore School: to give a series of talks on computer design.

The course "The Theory and Techniques for Design of Digital Computers", ran from July 8 to August 31, 1946. Eckert gave 11 of the lectures; Mauchly and Goldstine each delivered 6. "The Moore School Lectures", as they came to be known, were attended by representatives from the army, the navy, MIT, the National Bureau of Standards, Cambridge University, Columbia, Harvard, the Institute for Advanced Study, IBM, Bell Labs, Eastman Kodak, General Electric, and National Cash Register. A number of the attendees were to later go on to develop computers, such as Maurice Wilkes, of Cambridge, who built EDSAC.

Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation


In 1947 Eckert and Mauchly formed the first computer company, the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation
Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation
The Eckert–Mauchly Computer Corporation was founded by J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly, and was incorporated on December 22, 1947. After building the ENIAC at the University of Pennsylvania, Eckert and Mauchly formed EMCC to build new computer designs for commercial and military applications...

 (EMCC); Mauchly was president. They secured a contract with the National Bureau of Standards to build an "EDVAC II", later named UNIVAC
UNIVAC
UNIVAC is the name of a business unit and division of the Remington Rand company formed by the 1950 purchase of the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation, founded four years earlier by ENIAC inventors J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly, and the associated line of computers which continues to this day...

. UNIVAC, the first computer designed for business applications, had many significant technical advantages such as magnetic tape for mass storage. As an interim product, the company created and delivered a smaller computer, BINAC
BINAC
BINAC, the Binary Automatic Computer, was an early electronic computer designed for Northrop Aircraft Company by the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation in 1949. Eckert and Mauchly, though they had started the design of EDVAC at the University of Pennsylvania, chose to leave and start EMCC, the...

, but were still in a shaky financial situation. They were purchased by Remington Rand
Remington Rand
Remington Rand was an early American business machines manufacturer, best known originally as a typewriter manufacturer and in a later incarnation as the manufacturer of the UNIVAC line of mainframe computers but with antecedents in Remington Arms in the early nineteenth century. For a time, the...

 and became the UNIVAC division.

Software


Very early in the history of EMCC, John Mauchly assumed responsibility for programming, coding, and applications for the planned computer systems. His early interaction with representatives of the Census Bureau in 1944 and 1945, and discussion with people interested in statistics, weather prediction, and various business problems in 1945 and 1946 focused his attention on the need to provide new users with the software to accomplish their objectives. He knew it would be difficult to sell computers without application materials, and without training in how to use the systems. And so, EMCC began to assemble a staff of mathematicians interested in coding in early 1947. (from Norberg)

Mauchly’s interest lay in the application of computers, as well as to their architecture and organization. His experience with programming the ENIAC and its successors led him to create Short Code
Short code
Short codes are special telephone numbers, significantly shorter than full telephone numbers, that can be used to address SMS and MMS messages from certain service provider's mobile phones or fixed phones...

 (see "The UNIVAC SHORT CODE"), the first programming language actually used on a computer (predated by Zuse’s conceptual Plankalkul
Plankalkül
Plankalkül is a computer language designed for engineering purposes by Konrad Zuse between 1943 and 1945. It was the first high-level non-von Neumann programming language to be designed for a computer. Also, notes survive with scribblings about such a plan calculation dating back to 1941...

). It was a pseudocode interpreter for mathematical problems proposed in 1949 and ran on the UNIVAC I and II. Mauchly's belief in the importance of languages led him to hire Grace Murray Hopper to develop a compiler for the UNIVAC.

John Mauchly has also been credited for being the first one using the verb "to program
Computer program
A computer program is a sequence of instructions written to perform a specified task with a computer. A computer requires programs to function, typically executing the program's instructions in a central processor. The program has an executable form that the computer can use directly to execute...

" in his 1942 paper on electronic computing, although in the context of ENIAC, not in its current meaning.

Career


Dr. Mauchly stayed involved in computers for the rest of his life. He was a founding member and president of the Association for Computing Machinery
Association for Computing Machinery
The Association for Computing Machinery is a learned society for computing. It was founded in 1947 as the world's first scientific and educational computing society. Its membership is more than 92,000 as of 2009...

 (ACM) and also helped found the Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM). The Eckert-Mauchly Corporation was bought by Remington Rand in 1950 and for ten years Dr. Mauchly remained as Director of Univac Applications Research. Leaving in 1959 he formed Mauchly Associates, a consulting company that later introduced the Critical Path Method (CPM) for construction scheduling by computer. In 1967 he founded Dynatrend, a computer consulting organization. In 1973 he became a consultant to Sperry Univac.

Awards


Mauchly received numerous award and honors. He was a life member of the Franklin Institute
Franklin Institute
The Franklin Institute is a museum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and one of the oldest centers of science education and development in the United States, dating to 1824. The Institute also houses the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial.-History:On February 5, 1824, Samuel Vaughn Merrick and...

, the National Academy of Engineering
National Academy of Engineering
The National Academy of Engineering is a government-created non-profit institution in the United States, that was founded in 1964 under the same congressional act that led to the founding of the National Academy of Sciences...

 and the Society for Advancement of Management. He was elected a Fellow of the IRE
Institute of Radio Engineers
The Institute of Radio Engineers was a professional organization which existed from 1912 until January 1, 1963, when it merged with the American Institute of Electrical Engineers to form the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers .-Founding:Following several attempts to form a...

, a predecessor society of IEEE, in 1957, and was a Fellow of the American Statistical Association
American Statistical Association
The American Statistical Association , is the main professional US organization for statisticians and related professions. It was founded in Boston, Massachusetts on November 27, 1839, and is the second oldest, continuously operating professional society in the United States...

. He received an LLD (Hon) degree from the University of Pennsylvania
University of Pennsylvania
The University of Pennsylvania is a private, Ivy League university located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. Penn is the fourth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States,Penn is the fourth-oldest using the founding dates claimed by each institution...

 and aDSc(Hon) degree from Ursinus College
Ursinus College
Ursinus College is a liberal arts college in Collegeville, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.-History:1867Members of the German Reformed Church begin plans to establish a college where "young men could be liberally educated under the benign influence of Christianity." These founders were hoping to...

. He was a recipient of the Philadelphia Award, the Scott Medal
Scott Medal
The Walter Scott Medal is a medal awarded annually for bravery to Garda Síochána police officers and firemen. It is not a state award, being at the gift of the commissioner, but the medals are awarded by the Minister for Justice. FDNY recipients are also awarded $500, donated by the Fire Foundation...

, the Goode Medal of AFIPS (American Federation of Information Processing Societies), the Pennsylvania Award, the Emanual R. Piore Award, the Howard N. Potts Medal, and numerous other awards.

Patent controversy



Mauchly and Eckert's patent on the ENIAC was invalidated by U.S. Federal Court decision
Honeywell v. Sperry Rand
Honeywell, Inc. v. Mc'Donalds., et al. 180 USPQ 673 was a landmark U.S. federal court case that in April 1973 invalidated the 1964 patent for the ENIAC, the world's first general-purpose electronic digital computer, thus putting the invention of the electronic digital computer into the public...

 in October, 1973 for several reasons. Some had to do with the time between publication (the First Draft) and the patent filing date (1947). The federal judge who presided over the case ruled that "the subject matter was derived" from the earlier Atanasoff–Berry Computer (ABC). This statement has become the center of a controversy.

Critics note that while the court said that the ABC was the first electronic digital computer, it did not define the term computer
Computer
A computer is a programmable machine designed to sequentially and automatically carry out a sequence of arithmetic or logical operations. The particular sequence of operations can be changed readily, allowing the computer to solve more than one kind of problem...

. It had originally referred to a person who computes
Human computer
The term "computer", in use from the mid 17th century, meant "one who computes": a person performing mathematical calculations, before electronic computers became commercially available....

, but was adapted to apply to a machine.

Critics of the court decision also note that there is, at a component level, nothing in common between the two machines. The ABC was binary; the ENIAC was decimal. The ABC used regenerative drum memory; The ENIAC used electronic decade counters. The ABC used its tubes to implement a binary serial adder while the ENIAC used tubes to implement a complete set of decimal operations. The ENIAC's general-purpose instruction set, together with the ability to automatically sequence through them, made it a general-purpose computer.

Proponents for the court decision emphasize that the testimony established that Mauchly definitely had complete access to Atanasoff's machine and the documents describing it. Letters he wrote to Atanasoff show that he was at one time at least considering building on Atanasoff's approach.

Mauchly consistently maintained that it was the use of high-speed electronic flip-flops in cosmic-ray counting devices at Swarthmore College
Swarthmore College
Swarthmore College is a private, independent, liberal arts college in the United States with an enrollment of about 1,500 students. The college is located in the borough of Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, 11 miles southwest of Philadelphia....

 that gave him the idea for computing at electronic speeds.

External links

  • John W. Mauchly, Sperry Univac Point of View address, 13 November 1973, Rome, Italy at Charles Babbage Institute
    Charles Babbage Institute
    The Charles Babbage Institute is a research center at the University of Minnesota specializing in the history of information technology, particularly the history since 1935 of digital computing, programming/software, and computer networking....

    , University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. Discusses challenges in building ENIAC
    ENIAC
    ENIAC was the first general-purpose electronic computer. It was a Turing-complete digital computer capable of being reprogrammed to solve a full range of computing problems....

     at Moore School of Electrical Engineering
    Moore School of Electrical Engineering
    The Moore School of Electrical Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania came into existence as a result of an endowment from Alfred Fitler Moore on June 4, 1923. It was granted to Penn's School of Electrical Engineering, located in the Towne Building...

    , University of Pennsylvania; also describes the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation
    Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation
    The Eckert–Mauchly Computer Corporation was founded by J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly, and was incorporated on December 22, 1947. After building the ENIAC at the University of Pennsylvania, Eckert and Mauchly formed EMCC to build new computer designs for commercial and military applications...

     and the UNIVAC 1 computer.
  • Oral history interview with J. Presper Eckert at Charles Babbage Institute
    Charles Babbage Institute
    The Charles Babbage Institute is a research center at the University of Minnesota specializing in the history of information technology, particularly the history since 1935 of digital computing, programming/software, and computer networking....

    , University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. Eckert, a co-inventor of the ENIAC
    ENIAC
    ENIAC was the first general-purpose electronic computer. It was a Turing-complete digital computer capable of being reprogrammed to solve a full range of computing problems....

    , discusses its development at the University of Pennsylvania and the interaction of the personnel at the Moore School.
  • John W. Mauchly and the Development of the ENIAC Computer - by Asaf Goldschmidt and Atsushi Akera, An Exhibition in the Department of Special Collections Van Pelt Library, University of Pennsylvania
  • Mauchly: The Computer and the Skateboard. The only work to contain archival footage of John Mauchly speaking about the development of the ENIAC.