What was the name of the first Electronic Computer?
The first ELECTRONIC COMPUTER was. Colossus I, built at a secret government research establishment at Bletchley Park, Herts, under the direction of Prof. Max Newman, who headed up a team which included the brilliant and ill-fated mathematician and computer pioneer Alan Mathison Turing. Colossus I, which became operational in December 1943, was a single purpose, all-electronic digital computer designed expressly for crypto analysis—the cracking of codes. Working with punched paper tape, it was capable of scanning and analyzing 5,000 characters a second. It proved to be one of the most seminal of all the technological aids to victory in World War II, enabling the British to break the otherwise impenetrable Enigma series of enemy codes.
Colossus I and the nine other models which followed remained secret until 1976, which is why ENIAC is usually hailed as the world’s first electronic computer. One of the most notable achievements of the machines was deciphering the Nazi plans for countering the D-Day landings in Normandy. This enabled changes to be made in the invasion plans, ensuring their complete success; although details remain secret, without Colossus the Allies might have been stopped on the beaches.
The first general-purpose (i.e. capable of being programmed) all electronic computer was the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC), developed for the US Army Ordnance Dept by J. Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchley of the Moore School of Electrical Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, and completed in February 1946. Weighing some 30 tons, it contained 18,000 vacuum tubes and semiconductor diodes, and 1,500 relays. The Ordnance Dept installed it at the Ballistics Research Laboratory of the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, where it was employed to calculate firing tables for artillery, taking into account such variables as the velocity of the wind, type of shell and temperature of the air.
The first Electronic Computer Manufactured in regular production was introduced simultaneously by Remington Rand of Philadelphia in the USA, and by Ferranti of Hollinwood, Lancashire in Britain. The first Ferranti Mark I machine in operation was installed at Manchester University and working during the first half of 1951, though only formally inaugurated on 9 July of that year. Remington Rand’s first Univac I computer was installed at the US Census Bureau in Philadelphia during the same period and was the subject of an official dedication ceremony on 14 June 1951. Univac was notable as the first computer with input from magnetic tape.
The first Electronic Computer in regular business use was the Lyons Electronic Office (LEO), which began full-scale operation at the headquarters of the J. Lyons & Co. food and catering organization, Cadby Hall, London, in January 1954.