Atanasoff – Berry computer – The first automatic electronic digital computer is being exhibited in Ames

The Atanasoff–Berry computer was conceived in 1937, the machine was built by Iowa State College mathematics and physics professor John Vincent Atanasoff with the help of graduate student Clifford Berry. It was designed only to solve systems of linear equations and was successfully tested in 1942.

The ABC pioneered important elements of modern computing, including binary arithmetic and electronic switching elements, but its special-purpose nature and lack of a changeable, stored program distinguish it from modern computers. The computer was designated an IEEE Milestone in 1990.

Replica of the Atanasoff–Berry Computer at Durham Center, Iowa State University / Image source

The original ABC was eventually dismantled in 1948, when the University converted the basement to classrooms, and all of its pieces except for one memory drum were discarded.

In 1997, a team of researchers led by John Gustafson from Ames Laboratory finished building a working replica of the Atanasoff–Berry Computer. The replica ABC is now on permanent display in the first floor lobby of the Durham Center for Computation and Communication at Iowa State University.

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