Proof that large vacuum-tube devices would work

The ENIAC proved that large vacuum-tube device could be built. This started the computer revolution.

The vacuum tube had been around for many years, and everyone knew that tubes could burn out after just a short time. It followed that the more tubes in a machine, the sooner it would fail due to a burned-out tube. For this reason, nobody tried to build any device that depended on hundreds (or thousands) of tubes.

J. Presper Eckert came up with several design ideas that increased the reliability of the vacuum tubes. Thanks to his robust engineering, and also to conservative operation, the ENIAC was able to run for many hours without a failure.

The success of the ENIAC led computer scientists to design and build more (and larger) machines. In the 1950's, the invention of the transistor allowed a new, more reliable generation of computers. By the 1960's thousands of transistors were packaged into an integrated circuit, and these "chips" were being used to make computers smaller, faster, and more reliable.

Continue on to video with Jack and the Virtual ENIAC.

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