John Presper Eckert

Born: 9 April 1919 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania , USA
Died: 3 June 1995 in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, USA

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J. Presper Eckert was a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania. He was a researcher at the Moore School of the University of Pennsylvania when he began working with John W Mauchly on ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer) in 1943. When they completed ENIAC, in 1946, it had 500 000 hand soldered connections and used punched cards to store data. ENIAC was used by the U.S. Army for military calculations.

In 1946 Eckert and Mauchly started a business partnership that become the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation. In 1949 Eckert and Mauchly launched BINAC (Binary Automatic Computer) which used magnetic tape to store data.

In 1950 the Remington Rand Corporation acquired the Eckert-Mauchly company and changed the name to the Univac Division of Remington Rand. Later research resulted in UNIVAC1 (Universal Automatic Computer), a computer containing many of the elements of today's machines.

In 1955 Remington Rand merged with the Sperry Corporation to form Sperry Rand. Eckert remained with the company and became an executive. He continued with the company as it merged with the Burroughs Corporation to become Unisys. In 1989 Eckert retired from Unisys but continued to act as a consultant for the company.

Between 1948 and 1966 Eckert took out patents on 85 inventions, almost all electronic in nature. He received many awards for his pioneering work on computers, perhaps the most prestigious being the US National Medal of Science in 1969. Both Eckert and Mauchly received the IEEE Computer Society Pioneer Award in 1980.

Eckert died from complications relating to leukaemia.

References (3 books/articles)

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JOC/EFR December 1996