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What Background Led to ENIAC?

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Randall: What prepared you for building an electronic computer? Eckert: Remember, in that era, Philadelphia was Vacuum Tube Valley. Radios and televisions were predominantly made in Philadelphia. I worked on primitive television at Farnsworth back as a teenager and at Penn I had been working on various radar problems trying to measure the time for a pulse to go out and come back. We needed an accuracy of one part to hundred thousandths, which is more accurate than anything we could do at that time. I figured that out with counters. All this is a good lead-in for building an electronic computer. Randall: Was it you or was it the times? Eckert: Well, I may have been uniquely prepared. I was very good in math and I was fascinated with all electronics. I was designing electronic gadgets as a kid and I not only did academic math, I studied business math. Maybe I had the right fusion of interests. But every inventor stands on the pedestals built by other people. If I hadn't done it, ... more
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