John Mauchly: Computer Pioneer

Inventor of the ENIAC and the UNIVAC

John Mauchly (left) and Dr Presper Eckert Jr with ENIAC, the. Hulton Archive / Getty Images

Electrical engineer John Mauchly is best known for co-inventing, alongside John Presper Eckert, the first general-purpose electronic digital computer, known as ENIAC. The team later co-invented the first commercial (for sale to consumers) digital electronic computer, called the UNIVAC.

Early Life

John Mauchly was born on August 30, 1907 in Cincinnati, Ohio, and grew up in Chevy Chase, Maryland. In 1925 Mauchly attended Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, on a full scholarship and graduated with a degree in physics.

John Mauchly's Introduction to Computers

By 1932, John Mauchly had received his Ph.d. in physics. However, he had always maintained an interest in electrical engineering. In 1940, while Mauchly was teaching physics at Ursinus College in Philadelphia, he was introduced to the newly developing field of electronic computers.

In 1941, John Mauchly attended a training course (taught by John Presper Eckert) in electronics at the Moore School of Electrical Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania. Immediately after completing the course, Mauchly also became an instructor at the Moore school.

John Mauchly and John Presper Eckert

It was at Moore that John Mauchly began his research on designing a better computer and began his long working relationship with John Presper Eckert. The team collaborated on the construction of the ENIAC, completed in 1946. They subsequently left the Moore school to start their own business, the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation.

The National Bureau of Standards asked the new company to build the Universal Automatic Computer, or UNIVAC—the first computer to be produced commercially in the United States.

John Mauchly's Later Life and Death

John Mauchly formed Mauchly Associates, of which he was president from 1959 to 1965. He later became chairman of the board.

Mauchly was the president of Dynatrend Inc. from 1968 to his death in 1980 and also president of Marketrend Inc. from 1970 again until his death. John Mauchly died on January 8 1980, in Ambler, Pennsylvania.

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Bellis, Mary. "John Mauchly: Computer Pioneer." ThoughtCo, Apr. 3, 2017, thoughtco.com/john-mauchly-computer-pioneer-1992169. Bellis, Mary. (2017, April 3). John Mauchly: Computer Pioneer. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/john-mauchly-computer-pioneer-1992169 Bellis, Mary. "John Mauchly: Computer Pioneer." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/john-mauchly-computer-pioneer-1992169 (accessed December 16, 2017).