Today in Tech – 1941

On this day in 1941 computer pioneers John Mauchly and John Atanasoff met in Iowa City to see Atanasoff’s latest creation, the Atanasoff-Berry Computer or ABC. This event is particularly significant because of the events that followed some 30 years later, when the two became embroiled in a legal battle over who would be deemed the legal inventor of the first electronic digital computer. Mauchly along with his partner J. Presper Eckert were first to file for a patent on a digital computing device (ENIAC), much to Atanasoff’s surprise. At the end of the court battle however the ENIAC patent was deemed invalid, with the judge explicitly stating, “Eckert and Mauchly did not themselves first invent the automatic electronic digital computer, but instead derived that subject matter from one Dr. John Vincent Atanasoff.”  Atanasoff emerged as the victor and was credited for inventing the first electronic digital computer.

The Atanasoff-Berry Computer, the first official automatic electronic digital computer. -Image taken from computerhistory.org

The Atanasoff-Berry Computer, the first official automatic electronic digital computer. -Image taken from computerhistory.org

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