By the numbers

The early history of federal computing is largely the story of the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator. Army personnel from the Ordnance Department and University of Pennsylvania contractors developed ENIAC under a project that led in 1943 to a $61,700 contract for research and development of the massive computer. ENIAC weighed more than 30 tons. Its 19,000 vacuum tubes, 1,500 relays and hundreds of resistors, capacitors and inductors used almost 200 kilowatts of electricity. The Ordnance Department accepted the system in July 1946. By standards of the time, ENIAC was lightning-fast: A skilled person with a desk calculator could compute a ballistics trajectory in 20 hours, while the computer took only 30 seconds.


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