74 years ago, work began on the first ever general-purpose digital computer

It was said to weigh 30 tons (that’s about 20,000 times the weight of the human brain and 65 concert-type Grand Pianos!) and needed 18,000 vacuum tubes to process data.

ENIAC was the first general-purpose digital computer.

Remember our first computer lessons in primary [or secondary] school when we were taught the history of the technology that has now come to define the world? First, second and third generation computers? Charles Babbage?

Well, today is a special day — in relation to those computer history lessons — because on April 11, 1943 (about 74 years ago), researchers at the University of Pennsylvania began work on the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC). When completed, the ENIAC would become the first ever general-purpose digital computer.

At the time, computers did not have operating systems, they were ridiculously slow and could barely do complex tasks. The ENIAC was the first ever computer to be capable of solving “a large class of numerical problems”, although it had to be reprogrammed to do that.

It was said to weigh 30 tons (that’s about 20,000 times the weight of the human brain and 65 concert-type Grand Pianos!) and needed 18,000 vacuum tubes to process data. Still, it was 2,400 times faster than the human brain — it needed so much power that lights dimmed in certain parts of Philadelphia the first time it was turned on.

Good thing we can now do what the ENIAC used to do and a whole lot more with devices that weigh over 10,000 times less. Can I get three Gbosas for the evolution of tech? No be small thing.

More tech history coming at you tomorrow. Stay tuned.

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