L'ENIAC, el primer ordinador electr˛nic

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Any : 1946
Va ser presentat en públic el 15 de febrer del 1946. Tenia 18.000 tubs electrònics, pesava 30 tones i omplia tot un primer pis a la Moore School. La llegenda vol que, cada cop que s’engegava, a tot el barri oest de Filadèlfia els llums feien un pampallugueig perceptible. Tenia una “memòria” de 20 nombres decimals de 10 xifres. Era encara decimal i podia fer 5.000 sumes per segon. L’ENIAC feia en una hora la feina que fins aleshores havien fet les 200 dones calculistes dels BRL (Ballistic Research Labs) amb llurs calculadors de sobretaula, en dos mesos”.

Ton Sales. La primera generació als USA: de l’ENIAC al transistor (1946-1958).
Novàtica, vol. 6, núm. 34 p. 25-52.


En la programació de l’ENIAC van intervenir de manera molt destacada sis dones, totes elles especialistes en matemàtiques.Van ser contractades per la Moore School of Engineering de la Universitat de Pennsylvania com a “computadores” humanes per calcular les trajectòries de les bombes de l’exèrcit americà durant la Segona Guerra Mundial. Quan es va decidir automatitzar aquests càlculs, elles van ser elegides com les primeres programadores de l’ENIAC.

“We did have desk calculators at that time, mechanical and driven with electric motors, that could do simple arithmetic. You’d do a multiplication and when the answer appeared, you had to write it down to reenter it into the machine to do the next calculation. We were preparing a firing table for each gun, with maybe 1,800 simple trajectories. To hand-compute just one of these trajectories took 30 or 40 hours of sitting at a desk with paper and a calculator. As you can imagine, they were soon running out of young women to do the calculations.”
Kathleen McNulty.

“The day Eniac was introduced to the world was one of the most exciting days of my life. The demonstration was fabulous. ENIAC calculated the trajectory faster than it took the bullet to travel. We handed out copies of the calculations as they were run. ENIAC was 1.000 times faster than any machine that existed prior to that time. With its flashing lights, it also was an impressive machine illustrating graphically how fast it was actually computing.”
Betty Jean Jennings.


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