ENIAC Turns 70
It was back in 1943 when work began on the Electrical Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC) at the University of Pennsylvania's Moore School of
Electrical Engineering, under the direction of chief engineer J. Presper Eckert
and chief consultant John Mauchly. Thus, my dear old Uncle Presper (just
kidding) initiated construction of the world's first electronic general-purpose
computer, which was not revealed to the public until 1946. Designed to
calculate artillery firing tables for the US Army, it was 1,000 times as fast as
electromechanical calculation devices of its day. The ENIAC cost about $6
million in today's money, which isn't bad for something that's 3 x 8 x 100 ft,
weighs 27 tons, and draws 150 k W. That's quite a bit of power, but it takes juice to run 17,468 vacuum
tubes, even though several of them burned out on a daily basis, leaving the machine nonfunctional
about half the time.
The machine was capable of performing up to 5,000 instructions per second, assuming those
instructions were additions. The number dropped to 357 for multiplications and 38 for divisions.
(Today's Intel Core i7 processors — for comparison — can do 82. 3 billion per second when running at
2. 66 GHz.) The machine was shut down forever at 11: 45 p.m. on October 2, 1955. Pieces of it are still
on display in various museums. NV
October 2013 11
Digitizing the Throne
With everything else in the average household becoming wired, digitized, and automated, it was
only a matter of time until plumbing fixture manufacturers
came up with a super high-tech toilet. It looks like a
Japanese company — INAX ( www.inax-usa.com) — has
become Lord of the Loo with its Regio line, incorporating
"every technology possible today, including the highest
levels of water conservation and automated convenience."
The Silent Stream flush unit is powered by an air-drive
mechanism, so all you'll hear is the sound of a "murmuring
brook." The lid opens and closes automatically, and plays
digital music via remote control while you inhabit the
throne. INAX's Plasmacluster® technology takes care of
disagreeable odors, and the bowl is even illuminated with
LEDs so you can make sure everything comes out all right.
Of course, the unit is equipped with both front and rear
cleansing nozzles offering a choice of spray modes,
including a massage feature.
The white model comes in at $6,903, but you'll no
doubt want to upgrade to black for only about $1,700
more. (There is a gold-plated model for about $40,000
but, after all, you wouldn't want visitors to think you're
pretentious.) Unfortunately, none of these versions include
the remote control stand which will run another $595. It
all adds up to such an elegant experience that you'll be
making extra stops at Taco Bell just to encourage nature
to call. ▲
■ INAX's Regio high-tech toilet:
New comfort for the modern age."
INDUSTRY and the PROFESSION
■ The ENIAC computer circa 1946.