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Atanasoff–Berry Computer (2011) (iastate.edu)
51 points by jpelecanos 14 days ago | hide | past | web | 5 comments | favorite

Anyone discussion of the (non-programmable, electronic) Atanasoff-Berry Computer will eventually segue into mentions of Zuse's (programmable, electromechanic) Z3, Babbage's (programmable, fully mechanic, only realized later on) Analytical Engine as well as Eckart and Mauchly's (programmable, electronic) ENIAC, which all were the first computer for some definition of computer.

The (electronic, programmable) chips that are in almost any device from the washing machine to the watch today are a product of a long series of inventions reaching from logic and arithmetic over the first automatons and calculation machines of the 1600s to more complex machines of the 1800s over to the development of electronics through tubes, transistors and integrated circuits of the 1900s.

And today they are a universal part of everyday life that nonetheless depends on large material flows across dozens of countries that would be in danger in any large-scale event like a World War (like the two world wars that have happened in the 20th century, and where anyone who has seen and survived that kind of large-scale war is rather old now).

As an ISU alum and an Iowa resident I’ve always been dumbfounded that we don’t highlight our state’s place in the history of computing more.

I would totally be in favor of changing the state motto from “fields of opportunity” to “birthplace of the digital computer” and putting it on all the “welcome to iowa” signs on the highways, etc.

I'd never heard of the ABC computer before. The Iowa State website seems to have reached the conclusion that Mauchly ripped off Atansoff and Berry.

Every invention, every discovery, emerges from a context, a culture, a society of thinkers. How can credit ever be properly assigned?

I forgot the name but there's a book on the history of this computer. It's a good read. This is apparently a historically controversial topic.

If you mean https://www.amazon.com/dp/B003F3FJKA/, I agree it's interesting -- on an interesting topic by an excellent writer -- but you have to allow quite a lot for the author's poor understanding of computers.

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