• The Triumphs and Tragedies of the World's First Computer
  • By: Scott McCartney
  • Narrated by: Adams Morgan
  • Length: 6 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 11-02-00
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
  • 4 out of 5 stars 4.0 (324 ratings)

Regular price: $18.17

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Publisher's Summary

For all his genius, John von Neumann was not, as he is generally credited, the true father of the modern computer. That honor belongs to the two men - John Mauchly and Presper Eckert - who built the world's first programmable computer, the legendary ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer). Mauchly and Eckert, who met in 1941, developed a revolutionary vision: to make electricity "think." Funded by the U.S. Army, the team they led constructed a behemoth - weighing 30 tons with 18,000 vacuum tubes and miles of wiring - that blazed a trail to the next generation of computers that quickly followed, and in the process ignited a controversy over ownership that exists to this day. After their groundbreaking achievement, Mauchly and Eckert were shadowed by personal tragedies and professional setbacks as their accomplishment was laid claim to by others. They formed the world's first computer company, the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation, but were quickly outdistanced by IBM. Based on original interviews with surviving participants and the first study of Mauchly and Eckert's personal papers, ENIAC is a dramatic human story and a vital contribution to the history of technology, and it restores to the two inventors the legacy they deserve.
©1999 by Scott McCartney (P)1999 by Blackstone Audiobooks
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Glenn on 12-16-02

Fascinating history...

Everyone who assumes that von Neumann invented the computer (as I once thought) really owes it to themselves and the true inventors a listen to this fascinating retelling of the tale. Not overly "geeky," but not overly simplified either, this (audible) book finds the right balance to fill in the missing pieces of the invention of the computer. The *only* criticism that I have of the reading is the author's raised pitch when reading quotes from women. It sounds silly and somewhat demeaning, and isn't necessary to get the quote across. Otherwise the reader articulates well and is easy on the ears.

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23 of 23 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Chen on 04-23-04

excellent book on history and ideas of computing

Except for the first dozen minutes that repeat what we all know about the computers of today, the rest of the book is a fascinating account of the background, the people, and the critical events in the early days of computing. I have never seen a more complete and comprehensive account of how the science, the technology, the engineering, the war effort, and most interestingly, the people came together to give birth to ENIAC. I learned for the first time the commercial efforts after the invention and before the dominance of IBM. Except for the beginning part, I find the content highly informative not only because of the detailed account of historical events but also because of the description of many of the early technical problems and solutions. As a college professor teaching computer science, I highly recommend this book for any one who is interested in learning the history and the basic elements of computing.

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9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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