A Technological Revolution In 50 Short Years Eugene Garfield Fifty years ago, a revolutionary technology was developed at the Moore School of Engineering and Science at the University of Pennsylvania. On Feb. 14, 1946, John W. Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert, Jr., threw the switch on the first large-scale, general-purpose, electronic digital computer that they had constructed-ENIAC (the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer).

The project grew out of a 1943 military contract to calculate the trajectories of artillery shells. Yet ENIAC had flexible capabilities as a general-purpose computer to solve a wide range of calculations and complex data analyses. This distinguished it from earlier automated calculating machines designed for single problem-solving applications.

Those of us accustomed to compact desktop computers might marvel at ENIAC's technical specifications. It took up 3,000 cubic feet, weighed 30 tons, used 18,000 vacuum tubes and 70,000 resistors, required more than 170 kilowatts of power, and had a...

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