John Adam Presper "Pres" Eckert, Jr. (April 9, 1919 – June 3, 1995) was an American electrical engineer and computer pioneer. With John Mauchly he invented the first general-purpose electronic digital computer (ENIAC), presented the first course in computing topics (the Moore School Lectures), founded the Eckert–Mauchly Computer Corporation, and designed the first commercial computer in the U.S., the UNIVAC, which incorporated Eckert's invention of the mercury delay line memory.
Eckert was born in Philadelphia to wealthy real estate developer John Eckert, and was raised in a large house in Philadelphia's Germantown section. During elementary school, he was driven by chauffeur to William Penn Charter School, and in high school joined the Engineer's Club of Philadelphia and spent afternoons at the electronics laboratory of television inventor Philo Farnsworth in Chestnut Hill. He placed second in the country on the math portion of the College Board examination.
Eckert initially enrolled in the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School to study business at the encouragement of his parents, but in 1937 transferred to Penn's Moore School of Electrical Engineering.
In 1940, at age 21, Eckert applied for his first patent, "Light Modulating Methods and Apparatus". At the Moore School, Eckert participated in research on radar timing, made improvements to the speed and precision of the Moore School's differential analyzer, and in 1941 assisted in teaching a summer course in electronics under the Engineering, Science, and Management War Training (ESMWT) offered through the Moore School by the United States Department of War.
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