Short for Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer, the ENIAC was the first electronic computer used for general purposes, such as solving numerical problems. It was designed and invented by John Presper Eckert and John Mauchly at the University of Pennsylvania to calculate artillery firing tables for the US Army's Ballistic Research Laboratory.
Its construction began in 1943 and was not completed until 1946. Although it was not completed until the end of World War II, the ENIAC was created to help with the war effort against German forces. During the war, there was a shortage of male engineers, so the programming was done by a team of six women computers: Betty Jean Jennings (Bartik), Marilyn Wescoff, Ruth Lichterman, Elizabeth Snyder, Frances Bilas, and Kathleen McNulty
In 1953, the Burroughs Corporation built a 100-word magnetic-core memory, which added to the ENIAC's memory capabilities, which at the time only held a 20-word internal memory. By 1956, the end of its operation, the ENIAC occupied about 1,800 square feet with almost 20,000 vacuum tubes, 1,500 relays, 10,000 capacitors, and 70,000 resistors. It also used 200 kilowatts of electricity, weighed over 30 tons, and cost about $487,000.
The picture is a public domain U.S. Army photo of the ENIAC. The wires, switches, and components are all part of the ENIAC with two of the team of operators helping run the machine. The ENIAC is now being displayed at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. In 1996, the U.S. Postal Services released a new stamp commemorating the 50th birthday of the ENIAC.