February 14, 2016 was the 70th anniversary of the commissioning of ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator & Computer) which was developed right here in Philadelphia! The project was commissioned in the wartime years, primarily to develop computing capability to determine the path of shells and bombs to increase target accuracy. ENIAC also assisted in the development of the nuclear capability and was so fast that it was able to compute the landing position of a shell faster than it took the shell to travel its trajectory!
My good friend Jim Scherrer, founder of Compuseum (http://www.thecompuseum.org/) was kind enough to invite me to the celebration at the Moore School at the University of Pennsylvania. A fairly large percentage of the attendees were family members of those involved in the original project. One of the two key engineers on the project, Bill Mauchly (son of John Mauchly) was at this celebration. It was a privilege & an honor to meet Bill & exchange words/insight into the building of ENIAC. We were also able to visit the displays which consisted of some of the panels of the original machine still intact from 70 years ago! It was also interesting to find out that the word “computer” related to the people who worked with the machine, and not the machine itself!
Some other insight I found interesting came from Tom Haig & Mark Priestly of UPenn. They provided the details that went into the development of the ENIAC. They spoke about the original budget of $150,000 that ballooned to $500,000 (some things don’t change!), and that male engineers were in charge of hardware, but the software, wiring, and programming were all done by women. It seems there were around 40 women involved & they all loved their jobs on the cutting edge of technology in a world that was male dominated! There is an interesting paper on the women of ENIAC which can be read here: http://courses.cs.washington.edu/courses/csep590/06au/readings/00511940-frist.pdf.
Unfortunately, the percentage of women involved in the world of programming today is much less that what it was in the early years. EBS is proud to support the effort to promote women in science, by helping set up a high school visits to the Microsoft Technology Center in Malvern, Pa. Microsoft is a big supporter of education, and EBS is a sponsor for the Technovation Challenge (http://www.technovationchallenge.org/) initiative in Delaware County, Pa, which promotes girls to learn and participate in programming activities. EBS is a Microsoft Silver Partner, and deals with custom applications, CRM and technology staffing for school districts.