The year is 1937 and in the state of Iowa, a physics professor and an electrical engineering graduate student are together on Iowa State University campus about to invent their way into history.

What is the Atanasoff-Berry Computer (ABC)?

The Atanasoff-Berry Computer (ABC) was the world’s first electronic digital computer according to Iowa State University.

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Two men by the names of John Vincent Atanasoff and Clifford Berry constructed the computer at Iowa State University between the years 1937 to1942.

"In the project’s proposal, Atanasoff had planned to hire an electrical engineering student to assist him in building the computer. He then met an electrical engineering professor, Harold W. Anderson, while walking across campus. Atanasoff told Anderson the type of student he wanted and Anderson replied, “I have your man: Clifford Berry”"-Iowa State University.

Now the ABC looked and weighed NOTHING compared to the computers we buy and use today. It weighed 750 pounds and was the size of a large office desk.

This first electronic digital computer actually contributed a lot of things that are still used in modern-day computers such as: a binary system of arithmetic, separate memory and computing functions, regenerative memory, parallel processing, electronic amplifiers as on-off switches, circuits for logical addition, and subtraction, clocked control of electronic operations, and a modular design.

The ABC's Invention Date Discrepancies

With the invention of something so revolutionary, such as the ABC, it hasn't come without its controversies as to who technically invented it first.

During WWW II,  Atanasoff and Berry moved on to other projects while J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly, developers of the ENIAC machine at the University of Pennsylvania, were the first to actually patent an electronic digital computer.

BUT Eckert and Mauchly patented the electronic digital computer-based off on the one Dr. John Vincent Atanasoff made back in Iowa.

"In 1973, however, U.S. District Judge Earl R. Larson overturned the ENIAC patents, writing, “Eckert and Mauchly did not themselves first invent the automatic electronic digital computer, but instead derived that subject matter from one Dr. John Vincent Atanasoff” "-Iowa State University.

Source: Iowa State University

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