- Series: Science Matters
- Mass Market Paperback: 272 pages
- Publisher: Berkley Trade; Reissue edition (February 1, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0425176444
- ISBN-13: 978-0425176443
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.8 x 7.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 45 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,760,234 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Eniac: The Triumphs and Tragedies of the World's First Computer (Science Matters) Mass Market Paperback – February 6, 2001
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Engagingly written...this book an absorbing read for anyone who savors the human stories that always underlie great events. -- Wired
McCartney has performed an important service by rescuing this tale from obscurity. -- Philadelphia Inquirer
About the Author
A staff writer for the Wall Street Journal, Scott McCartney is the author of Defying the Gods: Inside the New Frontiers of Organ Transplants and coauthor of Trinity's Children: Living Along America's Nuclear Highway.
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The book consists of eight chapters and is only a couple of hundreds of pages and is an easy read. The books follows the lives of Eckert and Mauchly chronologically, starting at their childhood and how they met. Eckert the more engineer focus and Mauchly the more theoretical focus together convince the US defense to fund the project of building ENIAC, the first electronic computer (or so they thought). In a couple of years, they build the ENIAC and it worked and was used for years after that. Eckert and Mauchly set up perhaps the first electronic computer company. They build several computers before being bought by larger companies.
A large part of the book covers the struggle Eckert and Mauchly had over the patent battle for the computer patent, something they eventually lost. And how these great inventors never received enough credit (according to the author) for building one of the first electronic computers.
The book was very easy to read. It is a "journalist book" and not a scientist book. This probably caused the better writing style, but also means that it is sometimes inaccurate or short on technical details. Thats said, there aren't much alternatives books or better studies in the lives of Eckert and Mauchly. If you like history of computing, then this is probably a book you want to read. Recommended, 4 stars.
Who are those guys, and why don't we automatically think of them when we talk computers is answered in Scott McCartney's fabulous book, ENIAC: The Triumphs and Tragedies of the World's First Computer The author explains how Eckert and Mauchly came up with the hair-brained idea of an electronic computer in the first place; how they painstakingly built both ENIAC and UNIVAC from the ground up, and, then, how the very industry they had created turned viciously against them and drove the two real inventors of the electronic computer out of the public consciousness and into deep oblivion.
Anybody who is fascinated by scientific cut throat will find this story absorbing, informative and even a little frightening. It's a literal road map of what not to do with your revolutionary idea. It should definitely be required reading for all aspiring inventors. I give the book 000001 bits.
My mind is changed about the history of the first computer. After checking the author's facts against what I thought I knew, I discovered that, as Will Rogers said, "It's not what we don't know that gets us in trouble, it's what we do know that 'taint so." McCartney's book is an important work of scholarship, not yet another candy-coated trip down core memory lane.
Bottom line: Eniac is a book worth reading and worth owning. Read it, visit a library and use the excellent bibliography to check the author's conclusions.
Most recent customer reviews
This book provides a good overall view of the origins of computers, the nature of the creative process, how we got to where we...Read more
Scott McCartney is a staff writer for the `Wall Street Journal' . This 1999 book is about John Mauchly and Presper Eckert, who designed and built...Read more