Galina Mihaylova & Anton Ivanov
The forgotten Father of the computer

The forgotten Father of the computer

The forgotten Father of the computer

John Atanasoff – The forgotten Father of the computer

In October 2013 marked 100 years since the birth of the founder of the computer. All information public will certainly honor this bright date. But even more to increase the Bulgarians who know John Atanasov, very few are those who know the details and that is why he is considered the creator of the computer.

John Vincent Atanasoff
John Vincent Atanasoff

John Vincent Atanasoff was born on October 4, 1903 a few miles west of Hamilton, New York . His father was a Bulgarian immigrant Ivan Atanasov, who arrived in America in 1889, he remained an orphan after the April uprising.

His mother was a math teacher. John Atanasov graduated from the school in Mulberry in two years with honors in mathematics. In 1921 he entered the University of Florida and there began to be interested in electronics and mathematics. He graduated in 1925 with honors with a bachelor degree in electrical engineering.

Although received many suggestions for teaching, including Harvard, he only accepted the proposal of the State University of Iowa, because this is the first proposal, which occurs because the institution has a good reputation in engineering and scientific work. There received a master’s degree in mathematics .

One winter night in 1937 in a pub for a drink bourbon in his head was born the idea of ​​a digital computing machine (can not challenge his Bulgarian origin ; – §)) note WebMaster) . Began work on the clarification of the idea and after administration of the university awarded him $650 , began building the first computer . Together with his student – Clifford Berry (1918-1963) , in the basement of the university they create computer ABC (Atanasoff-Berry Computer) between 1939 and 1941.

World War II began. Atanasoff left Iowa and went to work on military projects of naval forces of the United States. He thinks it will take several months, but returned to Iowa quite a few years. During this time, the university administration has done nothing to patent the invention.

Two other scientists Eckart and Mouchli stole research John Atanasov. In 1947 they patented digital computing device, called ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer). ENIAC was created at the University of Pennsylvania and Mouchli Eckart. Work on the ENIAC began in 1943 and was completed in 1946 For many years the two plagiarisms were extolled as fathers of the modern computer. But due to the legal battle for more than 25 years, their patent is revoked and inventors recognized John Atanasov and Clifford Berry.

In the course of the trial demonstrates that Mouchli met with Atanassov in 1940. It was allowed to operate in 1941 almost completed ABC computer during this time read the notes of Atanassov.

The trial began as a patent on ENIAC was sold in 1964 and the new owner Sperry Rand began collecting fees. When Honuel corporation refused to pay because he knows the earlier work of Atanasoff, Sperry sued. Lawyers Honuel consult with Dr. Atanasoff and called him as a witness in the trial in 1971-72 in Minneapolis. After 135 days and fill more than 20,000 pages of testimony of 77 witnesses, the judge ruled that the patent for the ENIAC is invalid. The decision of Judge Larson says “Mouchli Eckart and not self- invented the first automatic electronic digital computer, and actually elaborated the idea of Dr. John Vincent Atanasoff”.

According to monitoring the work of journalists, the blame for all these misunderstandings have lawyers at the University of Iowa, who have not lifted a finger to the patented invention in time. Similar developments in science usually given a Nobel prize, but because of litigation idea is compromised.

Why the John Atanasov is considered the creator of the computer?

Dr. Atanasoff first uses four basic principles for its electronic digital computer:

  • It uses electricity and electronics such as working environment;
  • use binary numbers;
  • using capacitors and memory mechanism to refresh their condition;
  • it uses the logical operations rather than mathematical used in analog computing devices.

By the end of his life, Dr. Atanasoff fails to take patent for ABC, but holds 32 patents for his other inventions.

Dr. Atanasoff died at age 91 of a heart attack on June 15, 1995.

He never made money from his invention. On November 13, 1990 U.S. President George Bush at a ceremony at the White House awarded him the National Medal of Technology, which is the greatest recognition of his merits. Bulgaria also appreciates the merits of John Atanasov. In 1970 he was awarded the medal “Cyril and Methodius” – first degree.

Today the computer is an essential part of human life invariably means for every person and every business. We can no longer imagine life without computers.

The invention of the computer tremendously accelerate scientific and technical progress. Never before in the history of mankind, an invention has not developed as fast as the computer. Over the past 20 years the speed and power of the computer increase exponentially.

So we need to cross any attempts to downplay the invention of John Atanasov and all who feel Bulgarians should be proud of his Bulgarian origin!

(according to materials of the newspaper “Online world ” ®, No. 11 , November 1998)


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