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Those fancy lights with numbers are just light bulbs. They perform no function, but Eckert and Mauchly thought it help the public see that the computer was actually working. UNIVAC, another computer designed by the two professors, predicted the outcome of the 1952 presidential election and put computers in the public imagination. UNIVAC, too, had extraneous Christmas lights.
Courtesy of the Smithsonian.
See footage of the ENIAC's creators with their computing machine in action, bright lights, vacuum tubes and all.
"I was already wearing a plastic pocket protector and thick black glasses--taped together--so I didn't need something to increase my social dysfunction."
"I bought my first computer when I was 15 in 1980. It was an Apple II, which back then was the most popular PC in the U.S."
"I still had to re-key them everytime I wanted to change programs, but this wasn't too bad as the TI-58 only had enough memory for about 240 instructions."
See the men, women, and metal behind the making of the ENIAC.
Editors: Kari Dean McCarthy; Mike Yamamoto
Production: Bernie McGinn; Jennifer Guevin; Vincent Tremblay
Design: Ellen Ng