The computer industry was born with construction of the ENIAC in 1946.
Even so, the term goes back farther than 1946. It
was coined during World War II to describe workers, mostly women, who used
cumbersome mechanical calculators to determine the trajectories of
artillery shells. Since their jobs were to "compute" the shell
trajectories, they came to be called "computers."
When the first machine that could perform such
calculations came along, ENIAC, it naturally was called a computer as
Built at the University of Pennsylvania's Moore
School of Electrical Engineering, ENIAC stood for "Electronic
Numerical Integrator and Computer," but its birth lay in World War II
as a classified military project known as Project PX.
The ENIAC laid the foundations for the modern
electronic computing industry. More than any other machine, the ENIAC
demonstrated that high-speed digital computing was possible using the
then-available vacuum tube technology.
Microcomputers, what virtually everyone has on
their desks in the late 1990s, were born a short time later through the
invention of the transistor at Bell Laboratories in 1947.
The first transistorized computer is completed in
1956. It's called the TX-O (Transistorized Experimental computer), and is
built at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
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