John Atanasoff

atanasoffJohn Atanasoff, a professor of mathematics and physics at Iowa State College, built an electronic binary computer that represents the first applications of electronics to automatic calculation. Despite never being fully operational, his ideas were major contributions to modern electronic computers. He was long familiar with the problems of solving complex linear equations, and in the 1930s began investigating the use of electronics to provide a device that would be faster and more efficient.

In 1937, Atanasoff devises the architecture and with the help of a colleague, Clifford Berry, completes a prototype in 1939. Known as the Atanasoff-Berry Computer (ABC), it has all of the fundamental elements of the modern electronic computer. John Mauchly would later learn of it and visit Atanasoff. The ABC never ran without an error, and he abandoned the project when he took on some war related work. He later won a court case in 1973 concluding he is the official inventor of the electronic computer, a title that actually belongs to more than one person or perhaps Konrad Zuse.

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