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Computers: Then & Now

November 28, 2007

Then: The ENIAC

Eniac Computer
Photo: Wikipedia

ENIAC is short for Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer.

The ENIAC was the “first purely electronic , ‘Turing-Complete’ digital computer.” Basically this means that it was the first machine that could take a finite input and return a finite output in a finite number of steps.

The ENIAC was designed and built to calculate artillery firing tables for the U.S. Army’s Ballistic.

The ENIAC was massive compared to modern PC’s. It contained 17,468 vacuum seals, 1,500 relays, 7,200 crystal diodes, 70,000 resistors 10,000 capacitors and around 5 million soldered joints. The weight was 27 tonnes and it was approximately 8.5 feet by 3 feet by 80 feet (2.6 m by 0.9 m by 26 m). Oh and the it consumed 150kW of power.

“Input was possible from an IBM card reader, while an IBM card punch was used for output. These cards could be used to produce printed output offline using an IBM accounting machine, probably the IBM 405.”

The ENIAC cost almost $500,000 when finished in February 1946 remained in operation until October 2nd 1955.

As of 2004 a chip of silicon measuring 0.02 inches (0.5 mm) square holds the same capacity as the ENIAC, which occupied a large room.


Now:Sun SPARC Enterprise M4000 Server

Sun Enterprise Server 4000
Photo: www.sun.com

Below I have included some details of a current SUN Sparc Enterprise M4000 Server.

You could fit 2 to 3 of these servers on your average size kitchen table.

Price (standard) $ 99,000.00

Sun SPARC Enterprise M4000 server, 4 x 2.15 GHz SPARC64 VI Processors (2 CPU boards with 2 CPUs each and 5 MB on-chip L2 cache), 32 GB system memory (2 memory modules with 8 x 2 GB DDR2 DIMMs), 2 x 73 GB SAS disks, 1 DVD-ROM, 2 Gigabit Ethernet ports, 1 I/O tray with 4 PCIe and 1 PCI-X slots, 2 power supplies (110V or 220V with 1N redundancy).

With extra warranty a tape drive and a few bits and pieces this Sun server comes to $114,613.00.

Still its not expensive when compared to half a million to build the ENIAC in 1946.

By the way, you could fit more processing power into the little on/off buton on the front of this Sun Server than 2 or 3 ENIACS put together. Sort of scary when you think about how far we’ve come in a relatively short time.

Websites: ENIAC on Wikipedia and Sun Solaris


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