It had less processing power than a modern wristwatch, weighed more than 27 tons, and was the size of a bungalow, but the early electronic computer — the Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer, or ENIAC — was one of most important machines ever built.

On February 15, 1946, the ENIAC was dedicated. Though this machine differed significantly from the computers that followed, this World War II-era creation was the starting point from which people learned how to build and program computers. In a presentation on Thursday, February 16, the Princeton ACM/IEEE will discuss how the ENIAC worked and how it was used. The free event takes place at 8 p.m. in Princeton University’s computer science building. Visit www.princetonacm.acm.org or call 908-285-1066.

Speaker Brian Stewart, a professor of computer science at Drexel, will look at a number of details of the internal operation of the ENIAC. These details will be illustrated though demonstrations of the ENIAC in the form of a recently developed pulse-level simulator. The presentation will also include some discussion of the simulator implementation.

Stuart’s interest in the history of computing was sparked by stumbling across the manual of operation for the Harvard Mark I — an electromechanical computer used during World War II — while an undergraduate. That interest continues today with a small collection of computing artifacts he maintains, restores, and enhances in his basement. He holds degrees from the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, the University of Notre Dame, and Purdue University and has published a textbook on operating systems.

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