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Uploaded on Nov 11, 2014
Recorded: June 25, 1981
Professor Maurice Wilkes introduces Dr. Brainerd, who begins by detailing the founding and evolution of the Moore School of Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania from 1923 onwards. Dr. Brainerd gives his views on early computational devices, including differential analyzers. He discusses the running of the lab, including the issues that led to the definition of the problems that ENIAC (1946) would be used to tackle. He outlines the securing of the contract to build ENIAC and the roles played by several of the key members of the team, including Herman Goldstine, Arthur Burks, J. Presper Eckert, and John Mauchly. Brainerd also looks at the interactions between the team creating ENIAC and the US Army, MIT, and Ballistic Research Labs during the height of World War II. Reliability of the machine was an issue, and Brainerd outlines the difficulties, especially with the vacuum tubes and other electronic components used in the system. He spends some time discussing the choices to work in the decimal system instead of binary, as well as the stored program concept. The lecture concludes with questions from the audience.