The Need for Speed

The promise that the ENIAC offered the army was one of speed. Despite advances in mechanical calculators, such as the differential analyzer, the Army's need for number-crunching far exceeded the ability of any calculating machine of the day.

The Army needed many new firing tables. A firing table was a small booklet attached to a gun that allowed the soldiers to determine the correct firing angle for a given distance. These tables took into account many variables, such as wind, temperature, and even the type of ground under the gun.

The old ways were very slow. Each trajectory took 12 hours to calculate with a mechanical desk calculator.

The ENIAC was very fast. Instead of taking 12 hours, the ENIAC could compute the trajectory of a shell in just 30 seconds.

Here's an example of the operation of the ENIAC.

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