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Working on ENIAC: The Lost Labors of the Information Age

The largest part of the ENIAC team by far were the peo­ple that were actu­ally build­ing the thing. And it’s inter­est­ing they’ve been for­got­ten by his­tory, because although their job titles were wire­men, tech­ni­cians, and assem­blers, being a busi­ness his­to­rian I looked up the account­ing records, and some­times they spell out the pay­roll. You sud­denly see all these women’s names like Ruth, Jane, Alice, Dorothy, Caroline, Eleanor show­ing up.

ENIAC Programmers Keynote at WITI New York Network Meeting 1998

I applied and went over and they just talked to us a lit­tle bit. We nev­er saw the machine or any­thing. So then they called us in and Herman Goldstine, who was the Army offi­cer liai­son com­ing in from Aberdeen, inter­viewed me. So Herman said to me, What do you think of elec­tric­i­ty?”

So I said, Well, I had a physics course and I knew that E=IR.”

So he said, No, I don’t mean that. I don’t care about that. Are you afraid of it?”