ENIAC: The Triumphs and Tragedies of the World's First Computer

By Scott McCartney | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWO
A Kid and a Dreamer

While still a youngster in knee pants in 1919, John William Mauchly had a habit of reading books and magazines in bed late into the night. The Mauchly family lived in a modest, four-bedroom, one-bath frame house in Chevy Chase, Maryland, long before it became a swank power enclave. The staircase had a landing three steps above the ground floor, and from one or two stairs above the landing, John's parents, Sebastian and Rachel, could see under his bedroom door. If the light was on past bedtime, trouble was at hand.

Young John had a solution to his predicament. He placed a sensor under a loose board on the staircase landing, then wired it to a small light in his room. Whenever someone stepped on the landing, the light went out in his bedroom, giving him time to turn off the main light before

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ENIAC: The Triumphs and Tragedies of the World's First Computer
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction - The Thinking Man's Game 1
  • Chapter One - The Ancestors 9
  • Chapter Two - A Kid and a Dreamer 28
  • Chapter Three - Crunched by Numbers 52
  • Chapter Four - Getting Started 62
  • Chapter Five - Five Times One Thousand 87
  • Chapter Six - Whose Machine Was It, Anyway? 109
  • Chapter Seven - Out on Their Own 135
  • Chapter Eight - Whose Idea Was It, Anyway? 175
  • Epilogue - So Much Has Been Taken Away 215
  • Notes 229
  • Bibliography 243
  • Acknowledgments 252
  • Index 255
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