Atanasoff-Berry Computer (ABC)

1939 - 1942

In 1939, John V. Atanasoff with the help of his student Clifford Berry began building the first all-electronic computer. The two main innovative ideas of the Atanasoff-Berry Computer were the use of vacuum tubes in computing and the expansion of binary logic by using “on” and “off” states of electronic devices to represent data and instructions instead of 0 and 1 [britanica]. For the input of data punched cards were used. The machine consisted of approximately 300 vacuum tubes, making the whole project cost nearly 1000$.

At first the device had only one purpose, the solution of linear algebraic equations [6], but later they decided to change they design opting for a general-purpose computer. However, the project was halted in 1942, due to World War II and Atanasoff’s departure from the Iowa State College. In 1973, the Atanasoff-Berry Computer got credit for being the world’s first electronic digital computer by the U.S. federal court after a dispute between two computer design corporations [7].