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Friday, November 26, 2010

John Atanasoff

I am a long time follower of how historians and media address the history of computing technology.   A new biography of John Atanasoff is now out:  The Man Who Invented the Computer: The Biography of John Atanasoff, Digital Pioneer, by Jane Smiley.   There is still controversy on this topic.  There are some with axes to grind that are ready to wield them.  When I looking at this topic in detail the 'J Prosper Eckert and  John Mauchly' answer was the standard one to the 'who invented'  question.  In recently years the answer John Atanasoff has taken over.  In part this depends on the definition of computer and its specification as a 'practical, general purpose, stored-program digital logic machine'.  I see in Amazon it gets some rocky reviews, some of which are eyebrow-raising.   Read them.  I am awaiting a full read of the book.   The current NYTimes review is particularly unsatisfying.

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