Age of Electronic Computer

Age of Electromechanical Computers

  •  Mark-1:

Howard H. Aiken (1900-1973), a Harvard engineer working with three engineers of IBM, constructed a large automatic digital computer based on IBM electromechanical parts in 1937. This machine is called Harward Mark-1. It was also called IBM ASCC (Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator). The Mark is called brain child of Aiken. It was a slow machine with capacity to handle 23-decimal places numbers.

Mark 1

Mark 1

It consumes 3 to 5 seconds in multiplication, 12 seconds in division but fully automatic without intervention of human. The modified version of Mark-1 is called mark-II come in existence in 1947. The modified version of Mar II was introduced as Mark III, and its modified version Mark IV up to 1952.


  • College (now called Iowa State University) and his graduate student, Clifford Berry, had designed first electronic digital computer on the basis of on/ off circuiting of Boolean logic in 1940. The main memory contains many valves and capacitors, and punch card was used as secondary memory.


Age of Electronic Computers


  •  ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator):

This electronic machine was designed by Dr. John W. Mauchly and Dr. J. Presper Eckert. It was built from 18,000 vacuum tubes, and 70,000 resistors. Its power consuming capacity was 50, 00, 000 Kilowatt. It was set up on 1,800 square feet of floor space. ENIAC operated on punch cards, which were the input/ output devices and had one multiplier, one divider/ square rooter and twenty adders. It was a very fast machine compared to the earlier electromechanical machines. It could add two numbers in 200 microseconds and multiplication of two numbers in 2800 microseconds.


  • John Von Neumann (1903-1957):

He was born on 28 December 1903 in Budapest, Hungary. His father, Max Neumann, was a top banker. He studied chemistry at the University of Berlin until 1923 when he went to Zurich. He received diploma in chemical engineering from the Technische Hochschule in Zurich in 1926 and same year obtained doctorate in mathematics from the University of Budapest on set theory. Von Neumann designed the Electronic Discrete Variable Automatic Computer (EDVAC) with team of J.P. Eckert and J.W. Mauchly which memory holds stored program as well as data.

This “stored memory” technique as well as “conditional control transfer,” that allowed the computer to be stopped at any point and then resumed, allowed for greater versatility in computer programming. The key element to the von Neumann architecture was the central processing unit, which allowed all computer functions to be coordinated through a single source. He was regarded as “father of stored program”.


  •   EDSAC (Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Computer):


Designed by Maurice Wilkesat Cambridge University mathematical laboratory in 1947. It used a mercury delay line storage system where the access time was one millisecond. It contains 3000 vacuum tubes and operated on 30KW. Time required for addition was 1500 microseconds and that for multiplication was 4000 microseconds.


  •  EDVAC (Electronic Discrete Variable Automatic Computer):


It was built at Pennsylvania University and was completed in 1950 under mastermind of J.P. Eckert and J. Mauchly.


  •  UNIVAC (Universal Automatic Computer):

It was the first and most powerful computer commercially available in this generation. It was capable of processing numeric and alphanumeric data and based on principle of stored memory of John Von Neumann. It was used for business data processing. J.P. Eckert and J.W. Mauchly had developed in 1961, but due to some financial problem, sold out to Remington Rand.

In 1951, the UNIVAC I (Universal Automatic Computer), built by Rand, became one of the first commercially available computers to take advantage of these advances. Both the U.S. Census Bureau and General Electric owned UNIVACs. One of UNIVAC‘s impressive early achievements was predicting the winner of the 1952 presidential election, Dwight D. Eisenhower.

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