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Invisible Man Built the World’s First Computer, You Can Use This Invention to Become a Mail Order Millionaire

If you’ve never heard of John Atanasoff, you’re not alone. I hadn’t either until I read about him in the Oct. 11-17, 2010 issue of Bloomberg Businessweek. He happens to be the inventor of arguably the 20th Century’s most important product. A product you are using to read this very blog. Mr. Atanasoff invented the world’s first computer and it was back before most of you were born.

Here’s how the author of the article describes how it happened. “One night a young physics professor named John Atanasoff got up from his dining room table and went for a drive along the Iowa back roads.’I was in such a mental state,’ he recalled dramatically, ‘that no resolution was possible’. “When he crossed into Illinois, though, Atanasoff spotted a roadside tavern. He went inside, ordered a bourbon and soda, took a sip, and then, with the crispness of a Frank Capra scene, the moment he’d waited for his entire life revealed itself. The design of the world’s first working computer flashed before his eyes. He jotted down the plan on a cocktail napkin. It was 1937.

Author Jane Smiley tells this this fascinating story in her new book The Man Who Invented the Computer: The Biography of John Atanasoff, Digital Pioneer, and quite a story it is. “Born to Bulgarian immigrants, Atanasoff grew up in tiny Brewster, Fla. As a child, he memorized the manual for his father’s Model T Ford and wired his family’s home for electricity. As he got older, he sought the attention of girls by teaching himself to crochet. He spoke often about non-decimal ways of counting and considered himself a precocious mathematician.

While earning his PhD at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Atanasoff became sick of using a Monroe calculator-a typewriter-like device whose power was limited to solving simple equations. After landing a job teaching quantum mechanics at Iowa State University, he tinkered with existing calculators, including one created by IBM, to make them more powerful. With a graduate student and a $650 grant, he built a prototype of his computer, the ABC, in 1940.

There’s a reason you never heard of Atanasoff. Having been called to work on government war programs, he wasn’t able to patent his invention. Only in 1973, after a lengthy court battle, was he credited with being the inventor of the first digital computer. which was assembled in the basement of the Iowa State physics building. The ABC (Atanasoff-Berry Computer) consisted of vacuum tubes and regenerative capacitor memory elements-capable of storing bits of data-that was 6 feet long and more than 3 feet tall, about the size of a souped-up Weber barbecue grill. Atanasoffs story is a reminder of computing’s original mission: to solve equations and problems that humans were incapable of handling themselves. Smiley notes that Atanasoff envisioned a machine much like the human brain, with regenerative operation, and storage memory. As Atanasoff once wrote: “I had been forced to the conclusion that if I wanted a computer suited to the general needs of science and, in particular, suited to solving systems of linear equations, I would have to build it myself.” It was a noble purpose. Thanks to Mr. Atanasoff and the other early pioneers who had no idea what the future would hold for this early invention. At that time it would have taken hundreds of his machines to provide the computing muscle of 15 minutes on the IPhone. Read this book, you’ll be glad you did.

Today’s computers make selling products direct to the consumer via the Internet easier than ever to become a mail order millionaire HOW TO BECOME A MAIL ORDER MILLIONAIRE my newly revised book contains the most complete guide to making profits on line. The book not only shows you how to find products but teaches you how and where to sell them. It is available in hard copy and digital version on line and through AMAZON. For a free copy of the practical chapter from my book 16 SURE FIRE CHECK LISTS THAT GUARANTEE SUCCESS, shoot me an email. No obligation.

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