First Electronic Computer

First Electronic Computer
The Atanasoff Story


Tonya Devoto

          The Atanasoff –Berry Computer was the first Electronic digital computer. It was built by John Vincent Atanasoff and Clifford Berry at Iowa State University during 1937-42. It incorporated several major innovations in computing including the use of binary arithmetic, regenerative memory, parallel processing and separation of memory and computing functions. John Vincent Atanasoff was born on 4 October 1903 a few miles west of Hamilton, New York. His father was a Bulgarian immigrant named Ivan Atanasov. His last name was changed to Atanasoff by immigration officials at Ellis Island when he arrived with an uncle in 1889, and later on, his first name was changed to John. His mother was Iva Lucena Purdy, a mathematics schoolteacher. The couple had nine children (one of whom died): John, Ethelyn, Margaret, Theodore, Avis, Raymond, Melva, Irving. After John Vincent's birth, his father accepted an electrical engineering position is Osteen, Florida, and subsequently, in Brewster, Florida. It was here that JV completed grade school and started understanding the concepts of electricity. The Atanasoff home in Brewster was the first house they lived in with electricity, and JV, as a 9-year-old boy found and corrected faulty electric wiring in a back-porch light.
Clifford E. Berry was born in Gladbrook, Iowa on 19 April 1918 to Fred Gordon Berry and Grace Strohm. He was the oldest of four children born to the couple: Clifford, Keith, Frederick, and Barbara. When Clifford was a small child, his father Fred had an electrical appliance and repair store in Gladbrook, where he had several electrical projects. By far the greatest of his projects was a radio--the first radio in Gladbrook. This prompted a stream of town visitors to get a glimpse at the machine. Fred taught his son about the construction of the radio and it was here that Clifford started tinkering with electricity and radio. When he...