J. Presper Eckert


J. Presper Eckert

Infobox Person
name = J. Presper Eckert



image_size = 275px
caption = Eckert and Mauchly examine a printout of ENIAC results in a newsreel from February 1946.
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birth_date = April 9, 1919
birth_place = Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
death_date = death date and age|1995|6|3|1919|4|9
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nationality = American
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known_for = ENIAC
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occupation = electrical engineer
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John Adam Presper "Pres" Eckert Jr. (April 9, 1919June 3, 1995) was an American electrical engineer and computer pioneer. With John Mauchly he invented the first general-purpose electronic digital computer (ENIAC), presented the first course in computing topics (the Moore School Lectures), founded the first commercial computer company (the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation), and designed the first commercial computer in the U.S., the UNIVAC, which incorporated Eckert's invention of the mercury delay line memory.

Education

Eckert was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to a wealthy real estate developer John Eckert and was raised in a large house in Philadelphia's Germantown section. During elementary school, he was driven by chauffeur to William Penn Charter School, and in high school joined the Engineer's Club of Philadelphia and spent afternoons at the electronics laboratory of television inventor Philo Farnsworth in Chestnut Hill. He placed second in the country on the math portion of the College Board examination. [ cite book | last=McCartney | first=Scott | title=ENIAC: The Triumphs and Tragedies of the World's First Computer | publisher=Walker and Company | location=New York | year=1999 | id=ISBN 0-8027-1348-3 ]

Eckert initially enrolled in the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School to study business at the encouragement of his parents, but in 1937 transferred to Penn's Moore School of Electrical Engineering. In 1940, at age 21, Eckert applied for his first patent, "Light Modulating Methods and Apparatus". [http://www.google.com/patents?vid=USPAT2283545&id=R7ZuAAAAEBAJ&printsec=abstract&zoom=4] At the Moore School, Eckert participated in research on radar timing, made improvements to the speed and precision of the Moore School's differential analyzer, and in 1941 became a laboratory assistant for a defense training summer course in electronics offered through the Moore School by the United States Department of War.

Invention of the ENIAC

Dr. John Mauchly, then chairman of the physics department of nearby Ursinus College, was a student in the summer electronics course, and the following fall secured a teaching position at the Moore School. Mauchly's proposal for building an electronic digital computer using vacuum tubes, many times faster and more accurate than the differential analyzer for computing ballistics tables for artillery, caught the interest of the Moore School's Army liaison, Lieutenant Herman Goldstine, and on April 9, 1943 was formally presented in a meeting at Aberdeen Proving Ground to director Colonel Leslie Simon, Oswald Veblen, and others. A contract was awarded for Moore School's construction of the proposed computing machine, which would be named ENIAC, and Eckert was made the project's chief engineer. ENIAC was completed in late 1945 and was unveiled to the public in February, 1946.

Entrepreneurship

Both Eckert and Mauchly left the Moore School in March 1946 over a dispute involving assignations of claims on intellectual property developed at the University. In that year, the University of Pennsylvania adopted a new patent policy to protect the intellectual purity of the research it sponsored, which would have required Eckert and Mauchly to assign all their patents to the University had they stayed beyond March.

Eckert and Mauchly's agreement with the University of Pennsylvania was that Eckert and Mauchly retained the patent rights to the ENIAC but the University could license it to the government and non-profit organizations. The University wanted to change the agreement so that they would also have commercial rights to the patent. In the following months, Eckert and Mauchly started up the Electronic Control Company which built the Binary Automatic Computer (BINAC). One of the major advances of this machine, which was used from August 1950, was that data was stored on magnetic tape. The Electronic Control Company soon became the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation and it received an order from the National Bureau of Standards to build the Universal Automatic Computer (UNIVAC). In 1950, Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation ran into financial troubles and was acquired by Remington Rand Corporation. The UNIVAC I was finished on December 21, 1950.

Later career

Eckert remained with Remington Rand and became an executive within the company. He continued with Remington Rand as it merged with the Burroughs Corporation to become Unisys in 1986. In 1989, Eckert retired from Unisys but continued to act as a consultant for the company. He died of leukemia in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania.

Some computer historians—and Eckert himself—believed that the widely-adopted term "von Neumann architecture" should properly be known as the "Eckert Architecture," since the stored-program concept central to the von Neumann architecture had already been developed at the Moore School by the time von Neumann arrived on the scene in 1944-1945.

References

* "From Dits to Bits... : A Personal History of the Electronic Computer", Herman Lukoff, 1979. Robotics Press, ISBN 0-89661-002-0

External links

* [http://www.cbi.umn.edu/oh/display.phtml?id=120 Oral history interview with J. Presper Eckert] Eckert, a co-inventor of the ENIAC, discusses its development at the University of Pennsylvania and the interaction of the personnel at the Moore School. Oral history interview by Nancy B. Stern, 28 October 1977. Charles Babbage Institute
* [http://www.luckbealady.com/EckertProject/Default.htm A Tribute to Dr. J. Presper Eckert Co-Inventor of ENIAC] . 2000 Daniel F. McGrath, Jr.
* [http://www.seas.upenn.edu/~museum/index.html ENIAC museum] at the University of Pennsylvania
* [http://www.computerworld.com/hardwaretopics/hardware/story/0,10801,108568,00.html?source=NLT_AM&nid=108568 Q&A: A lost interview with ENIAC co-inventor J. Presper Eckert]
* [http://www.kurzweilai.net/meme/frame.html?main=/articles/art0645.html?m%3D3 1989 interview of Eckert] by Alexander Randall 5th, published February 23, 2006 on KurzweilAI.net. Includes Eckert's reflections on the creation of ENIAC.
* [http://americanhistory.si.edu/collections/comphist/eckert.htm Interview with Eckert] Transcript of a video interview with Eckert by David Allison for the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution on February 2, 1988. An in-depth, technical discussion on the ENIAC, including the thought process behind the design.


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Presper Eckert — John Eckert Eckert et Mauchly examinant une impression des résultats fournis par l’ENIAC dans un film d’actualités en février 1946. John Adam Presper Pres Eckert Jr., né le 9 avril 1919 à Philadelphie en Pennsylvanie …   Wikipédia en Français

  • J. Presper Eckert — John Eckert Eckert et Mauchly examinant une impression des résultats fournis par l’ENIAC dans un film d’actualités en février 1946. John Adam Presper Pres Eckert Jr., né le 9 avril 1919 à Philadelphie en Pennsylvanie …   Wikipédia en Français

  • J. Presper Eckert — (links) und John William Mauchly (rechts). John Presper Eckert (* 9. April 1919 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; † 3. Juni 1995 in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania) war ein US amerikanischer Computerpionier. Zusammen mit John W. Mauchly konstruierte er 1946 …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • John Presper Eckert — Nacimiento 9 de abril de 1919 Filadelfia …   Wikipedia Español

  • John Presper Eckert — (* 9. April 1919 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; † 3. Juni 1995 in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania) war ein US amerikanischer Computerpionier. Zusammen mit John W. Mauchly konstruierte er 1946 den ENIAC. Mauchly konzentrierte sich auf das Gesamtdesign des …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • John Presper Eckert — n. (1919 1995) United States electrical engineer and co builder of the first electronic computer (known as ENIAC) …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Eckert — ist der Familienname folgender Personen: Achim Eckert (* 1956), österreichischer Mediziner Adam Claus Eckert (* 1946), deutscher Manager Albert Eckert (* 1960), deutscher Politiker (parteilos) Allan W. Eckert (1931–2011), US amerikanischer Autor… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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  • Eckert, J. Presper, Jr. — ▪ American engineer in full  John Presper Eckert, Jr.   born April 9, 1919, Philadelphia, Pa., U.S. died June 3, 1995, Bryn Mawr, Pa.       American engineer and coinventor of the first general purpose electronic computer, a digital machine that… …   Universalium

  • Eckert–Mauchly Computer Corporation — The Eckert–Mauchly Computer Corporation (EMCC) (March 1946–1950) was founded by J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly, and was incorporated on December 22 1947. After building the ENIAC computer at the University of Pennsylvania, Eckert and Mauchly… …   Wikipedia


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