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John Vincent Atanasoff. By: William Moore. Introduction. John Vincent Atanasoff was born October 4, 1903 in Brewster, Florida His father was Ivan Atanasoff, he was an electrical engineer His mother was Iva Lucena Purdy, she was a school math teacher

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John vincent atanasoff

John Vincent Atanasoff

By: William Moore


  • John Vincent Atanasoff was born October 4, 1903 in Brewster, Florida

  • His father was Ivan Atanasoff, he was an electrical engineer

  • His mother was Iva Lucena Purdy, she was a school math teacher

  • He was one of ten childern, eight of whom survived until adult hood

Early education
Early Education

  • At the age of nine he learned to use a slide rule, and had taught himself how to repair faulty electric wiring and light fixtures in his house

  • This fascination with mathematics led him to study logarithmic and trigonometric functions at a very early age

  • He attended Mulberry High School which he graduated from in two years

College education
College Education

  • In 1925, Atanasoff received his Bachelors in electrical engineering from the University of Florida

  • In 1926 he earned a Masters degree in Mathematics from Iowa State College

  • He finally completed his formal education in 1930 by earning a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from the University of Wisconsinwith his thesis, The Dielectric Constant of Helium

  • Upon completion of his doctorate, Atanasoff accepted an assistant professorship at Iowa State College in mathematics and physics

A grand idea
A Grand Idea

  • Partly due to the drudgery of using the mechanical Monroe calculator, which was the best tool available to him while he was writing his doctoral thesis, Atanasoff began to search for faster methods.

  • In 1936 he invented an analog calculator for analyzing surface geometry. The fine mechanical tolerance required for good accuracy pushed him to consider digital solutions.

  • The Atanasoff-Berry Computer (ABC) was conceived by the professor in a flash of insight during the winter of 1937-1938 after a drive to Rock Island, IL.

The first computer
The First Computer

  • In September 1939 Atanasoff and his graduate student Clifford Berry received $650 of grant money, they had a working prototype by November of that year

  • The key ideas employed in the ABC included binary math and Boolean logic to solve up to 29 simultaneous linear equations

  • The ABC had no CPU, but was designed as an electronic device with vacuum tubes for speed. It also used separate regenerative capacitor memory, a process still used today in DRAM memory

John w mauchly
John W. Mauchly

  • In 1941, Atanasoff received a colleague, John W. Mauchly, into his home as a guest.

  • Mauchly had expressed great interest in the work Atanasoff was doing relating to computer technology and had enthusiastically accepted Atanasoff’s invitation.

  • Using the information that he gathered from Atanasoff’s research Mauchly and a John P. Eckert produced the ENIAC which would long be considered the first ever computer

  • Some 26 years later, Atanasoff sued Mauchly and Eckert saying that they had stolen his invention and used it to develop the ENIAC

  • The Courts ruled in favor of Atanasoff, this made the ABC the first ever computer

World war ii
World War II

  • During World War II Atanasoff was drafted into the military

  • He began working at the Naval Ordnance Laboratory (NOL), where , he was put in charge of testing acoustic mines, depth charges, and other similar projects

  • From 1942 to 1966, Atanasoff's scientific research centered on the dynamic principles of naval ships.

  • During this time, he patented more than 30 devices

John vincent atanasoff

His Inventions

  • the first mine-sweeping unit for blowing up hydrodynamic naval mines

  • instruments for detection and recording of high amplitude seismic and sonic waves

  • a unit computing and recording projectile trajectory errors in artillery shelling

  • postal sorting systems

  • automated systems for parcel post handling

  • quick search systems for classified information items

  • electronic quartz clock

Postwar life
Postwar life

  • Following World War II Atanasoff remained with the government and developed specialized seismographs and microbarographs for long-range explosive detection

  • In 1952 he founded and led the Ordnance Engineering Corporation until he sold the company in 1956.

  • In 1961 Atanasoff started another company, Cybernetics Incorporated.

  • Over the next couple of decades he received many different awards for his work in the fields of mathematics

  • He finally retired in Maryland and died in 1995.