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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (118 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Scott McCartney Narrator: Adams Morgan Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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The true father of the modern computer was not John von Neumann, as he is generally credited. That honor belongs to the two men, John Mauchly and Presper Eckert, who built the world’s first programmable computer: the legendary ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer). Their three-year race to create the ENIAC is a compelling tale of brilliance and misfortune that has never been told before.

Mauchly and Eckert developed a revolutionary vision: to make electricity “think.” Funded by the US Army, the team they led constructed a behemoth the size of a three-bedroom apartment. It weighed thirty tons, cost nearly half a million dollars—plus $650 an hour to run—and had eighteen thousand vacuum tubes with miles of wiring. But in 1945, the ENIAC was the cutting edge in technology and a herald of the digital age to come, blazing a trail to the next generation of computers that quickly followed. 

Based on original interviews with surviving participants and the first study of Mauchly and Eckert’s personal papers, ENIAC is a dramatic human story and a vital contribution to the history of technology that restores to the two inventors the legacy they deserve.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “[ENIAC] tells an absorbing story and sheds light on a moment when our world was transformed.”

    New York Times

  • “This lively account of the computer pioneers of another era not only fills a black hole in the history of technology, but demonstrates that the same chaotic and unpredictable creative processes that gave birth to the PC led, decades earlier, to the creation of the first mainframes. Without ENIAC, there could have been no Apple II, no IBMPC, no Macintosh.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “McCartney has performed an important service by rescuing this tale from obscurity.”

    Philadelphia Inquirer

  • “Engagingly written…this book an absorbing read for anyone who savors the human stories that always underlie great events.”


  • “[A] great story…McCartney offers excellent documentation, interesting asides, and real drama.” 

    Publishers Weekly

  • “A lively account…focuses on the human interest. Adams Morgan gives a crisp, brisk, documentary-style reading that keeps us involved throughout.”


  • “McCartney writes in a clean, smooth, journalistic style, as free as possible of jargon, which makes the story of ENIAC’s development a fascinating, yet easy read.”

    School Library Journal

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Tim Pozar | 12/5/2012

    " A bit "pop" and non-techy in its review of the history of the ENIAC. It skips over contributions from the programmers, mainly women. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Judy | 10/16/2012

    " Well done, great read. Unsung heros... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Michael Connolly | 9/21/2012

    " Presper Eckert and John Mauchly invented the computer at the University of Pennsylvania during World War II. Due to secrecy restrictions, they were not able to publish their work, so they have never received the recognition they deserved. This book attempts to correct that omission. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Kmfurr | 7/18/2012

    " Rereading this -- first read it in Coronado in the mid 1990s I think. The first computer (depending on how you want to define that), ENIAC, was created by Eckert & Mauchly in Philadelphia. Jon von Neumann weaseled in and stole credit for their ideas. "

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About the Author

Scott McCartney is an award-winning staff writer for the Wall Street Journal. He is also the author of Defying the Gods: Inside the New Frontiers of Organ Transplants and coauthor of Trinity’s Children: Living along America’s Nuclear Highway. He lives in Dallas, Texas.