ENIAC: First generation of computation should be a big attraction at Sill
What's more, it's now on public view at Fort Sill for the first time ever.
The granddaddy of all computers can be seen at the Field Artillery Museum, where it takes its chronological place beside its successors, FADAC (Field Artillery Digital Automatic Computer) and TACFIRE.
Field Artillery Museum Director Gordon Blaker said Fort Sill's share of ENIAC returned here Sept. 24 from Plano, Texas, where it has been on loan to businessman and two-time presidential candidate H. Ross Perot for the past eight years.
Perot's company had a big exhibition on the history of computers, and ENIAC was one of many computers displayed there. Libby Craft and Dan Gleason were his leads on getting ENIAC completely refurbished. Prior to that, this portion of ENIAC had been in storage for 50 years.
"They got it all cleaned up. They got it so lights work. They got a lot of the cabling, vacuum tubes, and they just did a fantastic job of refurbishing it," Blaker said.
ENIAC returned here because the building that housed the exhibit has apparently been sold, and Perot had nowhere else to display it, according to Zane Mohler, exhibits specialist. A part of ENIAC ended up at Fort Sill because its original purpose was to provide the Army a better way of computing artillery firing tables.
The firing tables have to do with a round's trajectory. They take into account things like weather, humidity, temperature, wind direction, altitude and other factors affecting the flight of the round, Blaker said.'
"Doing that manually was very time-consuming, and they needed a quicker way to do it, and that was what led to the development of ENIAC," said Blaker.
The massive computer was in use from shortly before the end of World War II to Oct. 2, 1955. Portions of ENIAC reside in many different locations. Fort Sill has one of the largest chunks, if not the largest.