The Man Who Invented the Computer: The Biography of John Atanasoff, Digital Pioneer

By Jane Smiley

From one among our so much acclaimed novelists, a  David-and-Goliath biography for the electronic age.

One evening within the past due Nineteen Thirties, in a bar at the Illinois–Iowa border, John Vincent Atanasoff, a professor of physics at Iowa nation college, after a tricky day acting tedious mathematical calculations in his lab, hit at the concept that the binary quantity method and digital switches, com­bined with an array of capacitors on a relocating drum to function reminiscence, may yield a computing computer that may make his lifestyles and the lives of different equally stressed scientists more uncomplicated. Then he went again and outfitted the computer. It labored. the total global replaced.

Why don’t we all know the identify of John Atanasoff in addition to we all know these of Alan Turing and John von Neumann? simply because he by no means patented the gadget, and as the builders of the far-better-known ENIAC very likely stole severe principles from him. yet in 1973 a courtroom declared that the patent on that Sperry Rand gadget used to be invalid, establishing the highbrow estate gates to the pc revolution.

Jane Smiley tells the quintessentially American tale of the kid of immigrants John Atanasoff with technical readability and narrative force, making the race to enhance electronic computing as gripping as a real-life techno-thriller.

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Ninety seven. 18 “This atmosphere did anything”: Ibid. , p. 103. 19 “although lets have taken over”: Ibid. , p. 108. 20 “the innovation and progressiveness”: Ibid. , p. 109. 21 “With no administrative or govt powers”: plant life, “Colossus,” p. eighty three. 22 “exacerbated, and … even provoked”: plant life, “Colossus,” p. eighty three. 23 “almost as sizeable a deal”: Gustafson, own conversation, April 6, 2010. 24 “supplied exact circuit design”: Copeland, “Colossus and the increase of the Computer,” p. 109. 25 “The code he indicates is”: Hodges, p. 352. 26 “It is apparent that”: Gustafson, own conversation, April 2010. 27 “were commonly at variance”: Hodges, p. 353. bankruptcy 8 1 “all those that desire to proceed as employees”: McCartney, p. one hundred sixty. 2 “Well, the list is clear”: Stern, interview with Irven Travis, p. 18. three “perfect[ing] them in additional detail”: McCartney, p. 138. four “Mauchly used to be a dreamer”: Burton, p. a hundred and sixty. five “Mauchly used to be assigned the patent work”: Cox, interview, February 22, 2010. 6 “It was once one room in a Victorian building”: Copeland, “Colossus and the increase of the trendy Computer,” p. 111. 7 “The 6th military Group”: Colley, p. A27. eight “every [press] release”: Clark, p. 26. nine “the collage [of Manchester]”: Hodges, p. 406. 10 “that his choice used to be influenced”: Copeland, et al. , p. 187. eleven “with the Russians”: Marton, p. 183. 12 “all these sitting around”: Macrae, p. 333. bankruptcy 9 1 “had met with the Pentagon”: McCartney, p. 147. 2 “The software used to be wide and unfocused”: Ibid. , p. 148. three “the Princestitute”: Macrae, p. 299. four “People inspiration he was once strolling away”: Cox, interview, February 22, 2010. five “He couldn't deal with a screwdriver”: Macrae, p. 371. 6 “I have loads of affection”: Kaplan, interview with John Atanasoff, August 28, 1977, p. thirteen. 7 “In many ways”: Hodges, p. 438. eight “transformed his body”: Wansell, http://www. dailymail. co. uk/news/article-1212910/How-Britain-drove-greatest-genius-Alan-Turing-suicide–just-gay. html. bankruptcy Ten 1 “became paranoid”: Cox, interview, February 22, 2010. 2 “There could have been comparable systems”: Eckert, “A Survey of electronic reminiscence Systems,” magazine of the Institute of Radio Engineers, October 1953, reprinted in Burton, p. a hundred sixty five. three “he had heard rumors”: Mollenhoff, p. eighty three. 157 “If you are going to support us”: Burton, p. a hundred sixty five. four “Now within the United States”: Zuse, p. 114. five “still didn't thoroughly trust”: Ibid. , p. one hundred fifteen. 6 “screaming in horror”: Rhodes, own communique, April 2010. 7 “I didn't wish to spend the remainder of my life”: Kaplan, interview with John Atanasoff, August 28, 1977, p. 19. eight “Retirement mellowed Atanasoff very little”: Burton, p. a hundred seventy five. nine “At Harvard they have been nonetheless thoroughly convinced”: Zuse, p. 116. 10 “We had precisely a part an hour”: Ibid. , p. 121. eleven “Many a night”: Ibid. , p. 122. 12 “An electric computing machine”: “Machine Remembers,” Des Moines Tribune, January 15, 1941, reprinted in Mollenhoff, p. 163. thirteen “An fascinating sidelight”: Ibid. , p. ninety nine. 14 “I am unsure what Dr. Atanasoff instructed you”: Clifford Berry, quoted in Mollenhoff, p. ninety nine. 15 “left him in large pain”: McCartney, p.

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