Publisher Information: London: The Patent Office, May 26, 1954.
ENIAC. Patent specification 709,407 . . . Electronic numerical integrator and computer. 188pp. 65 diagrams (all but 1 folding). London: The Patent Office, 26 May 1954. 275 x 191 mm. Library buckram. First edition.
First Printed Edition of the Patent for the the Electronic Digital Computer, and the first comprehensive description of the first general purpose electronic computer, the ENIAC. Because the U.S. version of the patent was not granted until 1964, the English version of the patent, with text and illustrations virtually identical to the U.S. patent, was published nearly ten years before the U.S. patent. Since no prior patent on an electronic computer existed, the ENIAC patent was a general patent, which included the first description in legal language of the design and operation of an electronic computer. The description was extremely thorough and illustrated on 65 remarkable diagrams, many of which had multiple images. Extremely Rare—this is the first copy we have handled in our five-plus decades in the trade, despite our strong interest in the history of computing.
The ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer), commissioned by the U. S. Army’s Ballistics Research Laboratory, was designed by Pres Eckert and John Mauchly and constructed at the University of Pennsylvania’s Moore School of Engineering during the last years of World War II. The ENIAC came on line in the spring of 1945, just as the war was ending, and for the next three years it remained the only operational electronic digital computer in the world. Eckert and Mauchly, the machine’s creators, would go on to found the Electronic Control Company, the world’s first electronic computer manufacturing firm, which produced the first electronic digital computers sold commercially in the United States.
The ENIAC was not a stored-program machine, but in January 1944 Eckert came up with what he later called his “big idea”: “the idea of the stored instruction sequence or program, using a single fast memory for both data and instruction, with no distinction between registers used for many purposes” (quoted in Origins of Cyberspace, p. 535). In August 1944, while still working on the ENIAC, Eckert and Mauchly proposed the construction of a stored-program machine, the EDVAC, based on Eckert’s new design. In March 1946, just before construction began on the EDVAC, Eckert and Mauchly parted ways with the Moore School over a dispute about intellectual property claims, retaining patent rights to the ENIAC. The next year Eckert and Mauchly filed for a patent on the ENIAC that included the stored-program concept; this essentially represented “a general patent on the stored-program electronic digital computer” (Origins of Cyberspace, p. 55).
The British patent on the ENIAC was granted on 26 May 1954, nearly a decade before the American patent, issued on 4 February 1964. On 19 October 1973, after a six-year legal battle, Judge Earl R. Lawson invalidated the ENIAC patent on the grounds that Eckert and Mauchly had derived their ideas from an earlier computer pioneer, John Atanasoff, who invented a special-purpose electronic computer in the 1930s. This landmark decision placed the concept of the electronic stored-program computer into the public domain, with enormous positive consequences for the computer industry.
Book Id: 44702