World's first computer faced a gnawing dilemma

The ENIAC is 75 years old. This complex piece of kit from the 1940s was the world’s first computer. It was commissioned by the US army to calculate missile trajectories. It was officially launched in Feb 1946.

In an article published on KurzweilAI.net on February 23, 2006, ENIAC co-designer, J Presper Eckert was asked about the most unusual aspect of testing the machine. Apparently testing the machine involved mice. Not the wireless variety used to interact with apps, but the warm blooded , four legged rodents that rather like chewing cables.

As Eckert recalls: “The mouse cage was pretty funny. We knew mice would eat the insulation off the wires, so we got samples of all the wires that were available and put them in a cage with a bunch of mice to see which insulation they did not like. We only used wire that passed the “mouse test”.

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