Thursday, October 28

John Atanasoff: an ungrateful life and a late recognition | Digital Trends Spanish


Today, computers are one of the most widely used technological inventions on the planet.

For this reason, a special section of its history should be dedicated to John Atanasoff, considered the inventor of the world’s first computer.

Atanasoff was born in Hamilton, New York, on October 4, 1903, precisely on a day like today 118 years ago.

He was a prominent Bulgarian-born electronic engineer who studied electrical engineering at the University of Florida. Later, and after obtaining a degree, Atanasoff began working as a professor at Iowa State University.

The first computer

It was precisely in this room where the inventor began to develop what would be his most outstanding work.

Back then, the Monroe mechanical calculator was the best tool an engineer had to perform his calculations, however this was limited and impractical.

For the same reason, the inventor began the search for a method that would allow him to perform calculations more quickly.

Thus, in September 1939, he built the prototype of the Atanasoff Berry Computer. This apparatus was the first to use the binary system. It also relied on Boolean logic to solve up to 29 simultaneous linear equations.

No recognition

The Atanasoff’s invention was overshadowed in 1945, when John Mauchly and John Presper Eckert introduced their digital electronic computer, which for several years was considered the first computer in history.

Both inventions could be linked, since in 1941, Mauchly visited Atanasoff to examine and learn more about his invention.

The engineer had to wait until 1973 for his creation to finally be recognized. For this, a federal judge had to annul the patent that the Sperry Rand firm had on the computer invented by Mauchly and Presper Eckert, indicating that this was a device that came from the one invented by Atanasoff.

Shortly before his death, former President George Bush awarded the inventor the National Medal of Technology in 1990.

John Atanasoff died in Frederick, Maryland, in June 1995 when he was 91 years old, as a result of a brain congestion.

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