Who Invented the Computer?: The Legal Battle That Changed Computing History
Foreword by Douglas R. Hofstadter, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of G÷del, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid...a very detailed, compelling, and comprehensive presentation...[Burks] makes this very dry material come alive, putting personalities behind the faces and providing supporting material that clearly demonstrates the trial verdict was correct...a very worthwhile read...Highly recommended. -Choice...this thorough treatment of an important subject is invaluable. -Publishers Weekly...worth reading...a valuable book because it will enable those interested in computer history to make up their own minds on the merits of the contenders in this complex controversy. -Mathematical ReviewsIn 1973, Federal District Judge Earl R. Larson issued a ruling in a patent case that was to have profound and long-lasting implications for the dawning computer revolution. Against all expectations, the judge ruled against Sperry Rand Corp., which claimed to hold the patent on the first computer dubbed the ˘ENIAC÷ and was demanding huge royalties on all electronic data processing sales by Honeywell Inc. and other large competitors. The judge came to the conclusion that in fact the ENIAC was not the first computer but was a derivative of an obscure computer called the ABC, which had been developed in the late thirties by a largely unknown professor of physics and mathematics at Iowa State University, named John V. Atanasoff.Looking back today from our digital world at what was then a little-publicized trial, it is clear that the judge's decision had enormous repercussions. If Judge Larson had ruled the other way, in favor of the patent claim, subsequent manufacturers of computing hardware would have had to obtain a license from Sperry Rand, and the course of computing history would likely have been very different from the galloping revolution we have all witnessed in the past three decades.This book centers on this crucial trial, arguing that Judge Larson correctly evaluated the facts and made the right decision, even though many in the computing community have never accepted Atanasoff as the legitimate inventor of the electronic computer. With meticulous research, Alice Rowe Burks examines both the trial and its aftermath, presenting telling evidence in convincing and absorbing fashion, and leaving no doubt about the actual originator of what has been called the greatest invention of the 20th century.Alice Rowe Burks (Ann Arbor, MI) is an author of both children's books and books and articles on the early history of electronic computers.
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ABC’s add-subtract mechanisms Annals article arithmetic unit Arthur Burks Atana Atanasoff-Berry Computer Atanasoff’s computer attorney automatic electronic digital Bernie Berry Burks calculator capacitors Ceruzzi circuits cited claims Clifford Berry computer’s computing machine Control Data counter course court DeLone device differential analyzer discussions documents earlier Eckert and Mauchly Eckert-Mauchly EDVAC electronic computer electronic digital computer ENIAC patent trial ENIAC trial records equations fact Ferrill Finding general-purpose Goldstine Halladay harmonic analyzer History of Computing Honeywell IAS Computer Ibid ideas invention inventor Iowa issue John Atanasoff John Mauchly John von Neumann Judge Larson June Kirkpatrick Larson’s decision letter Mauchly and Eckert Mauchly deposition Mauchly’s mercury-delay-line memory Mollenhoff Moore School Museum Neumann operations Ordnance Pres Eckert Presper Eckert prior problem pulses puter Regenerative Memory patent Smithsonian Sperry Rand Stern storage stored stored-program concept subtract testimony tion transcript triode UNIVAC Ursinus College vacuum tubes writes