Was It, Anyway?
Even before ENIAC was formally unveiled, it had begun to capture the attention of the scientific world. But that happened by chance, not by plan.
At the railroad platform in Aberdeen in the summer of 1944, with ENIAC still more than a year from completion, Goldstine had a fateful meeting. John von Neumann, the world-famous mathematician, happened to be waiting for the same train north. As a mathematician who had gone to several of von Neumann's lectures, Goldstine recognized him instantly. "I had never met him," Goldstine said. "I was an egotist, so I decided I'd go talk to this famous guy."
Von Neumann had been part of the scientific exodus to the United States as Hitler's stranglehold on Europe progressed. Between 1933 and 1941, 326 scientists and scholars emigrated across the Atlantic, with some of the best congre-