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Aiken, Howard Hathaway (08 March 1900–14 March 1973), computer pioneer, was born in Hoboken, New Jersey, the son of Daniel Aiken and Margaret Emily Mierisch. The family moved to Indianapolis, and when Howard was twelve years old, his father left home and the boy became the family breadwinner. He attended the Arsenal Technical High School during the day, working at night as a switchboard operator for the Indianapolis Light and Heat Company. Upon graduation in 1919, Aiken entered the University of Wisconsin in Madison to study electrical engineering, supporting himself and his family with a night job at the Madison Gas Company....

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Atanasoff, John Vincent (04 October 1903–15 June 1995), inventor and computer scientist, was born near Hamilton, New York, the son of Ivan Atanasoff, a Bulgarian immigrant and self-taught electrical engineer, and Iva Purdy Atanasoff, a schoolteacher. John Atanasoff was precocious; by age nine he had corrected faulty home wiring, become fascinated with his father's slide rule and logarithms, and been tutored to college algebra–level mathematics by his mother. One of his mother's books introduced him to nondecimal number bases, a nontraditional concept that served him well later in his pursuit of automatic calculation. He attended Mulberry High School in Florida. In 1925 he received a B.S. degree in electrical engineering from the University of Florida and an M.S. in mathematics from Iowa State College (now Iowa State University) the following year. Also in 1926 he married Lura Meeks; they had three children and divorced in 1949. In 1949 he married Alice Crosby....

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Cray, Seymour (28 September 1925–05 October 1996), electrical and computer engineer, was born in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, the son of Seymour Cray, a civil engineer, and Lillian Cray. Influenced by his father, Cray became interested in technology at an early age, building a variety of electronic gadgets before he reached his teens. In high school he won the school's science prize for his work in chemistry. Immediately after graduation in 1943, Cray joined the army and went to Europe and the Philippines to operate radio communications equipment during World War II. A year after his discharge he returned to Chippewa Falls and in 1947 he married Verene Vole; they would have three children....

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Hamming, Richard Wesley (11 February 1915–07 January 1998), mathematician and computer scientist, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Richard James Hamming, a credit manager, and Mabel Grace Redfield Hamming. His father, a native of Holland, ran away from home to fight in the Boer War and was left for dead on the battlefield with a saber wound in his neck. He spent some time in Texas as a cowboy before settling into an office job in Chicago....

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Kemeny, John George (31 May 1926–26 December 1992), computer scientist and mathematician, was born in Budapest, Hungary, the son of Tibor Kemeny, an import-export wholesaler, and Lucy Fried. Kemeny came to the United States in 1940, and his family settled in New York, where he attended the George Washington High School. In 1945 Kemeny became an American citizen and entered Princeton University. He interrupted his studies to serve on the Manhattan Project at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (1945–1946). Returning to Princeton after his service, he earned the B. A. in mathematics in 1947. During his undergraduate years he worked as research and teaching assistant and as instructor of mathematics at Princeton (1946–1948); he was also research assistant to ...

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Mauchly, John William (30 August 1907–08 January 1980), physicist and inventor, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, the son of Sebastian Jacob Mauchly, a physicist, and Rachel Scheidemantel. The family moved from Cincinnati to the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C., after his father, who had been teaching physics at the University of Cincinnati, took a job at the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism (DTM) at the Carnegie Institution of Washington. That department was a leading center for research in terrestrial magnetism and would become famous for research in high-energy physics in the following decades. Mauchly recalled visiting his father there often as a youth. Significantly, the DTM’s study of the earth’s magnetic field required the sorting and analyzing of large quantities of statistical data gathered from stations around the world. Mauchly’s later efforts to employ computing machines for the analysis of weather phenomena echoed that style of work....

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Packard, David (07 September 1912–26 March 1996), industrialist and philanthropist, was born in Pueblo, Colorado, the son of Sperry S. Packard, a successful lawyer, and Ella Graber Packard, a high school teacher. He knew at the age of ten that he wanted to be an engineer, and he never wavered from that ambition, despite his father's wish that the boy would follow him into the legal profession. The Pueblo of his childhood was something of a rough-and-tumble mining and industrial town, where Packard developed interests in the outdoors and in tinkering with things, especially radios and electronics. In school he was good in math and science, had difficulty with Latin, and excelled in sports....

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Wang, An (07 February 1920–24 March 1990), inventor and entrepreneur, was born in Shanghai, China, the son of Yin Lu Wang, an English teacher, and Zen Wan Cheng. Wang studied electrical engineering at Chiao-t’ung University, Shanghai, and edited a journal that published translations of scientific and technical articles from magazines such as ...

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Watson, Arthur Kittridge (23 April 1919–26 July 1974), corporate executive and diplomat, was born in Summit, New Jersey, the son of Thomas J. Watson, Sr., a business executive, and Jeanette Kittridge. At the time of his birth, Watson’s father was in the process of transforming the Computer-Tabulating-Recording Company into what would become the corporate giant International Business Machines (IBM). Watson’s often-stormy relationship with his father and his older brother ...

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Watson, Thomas John, Jr. (08 January 1914–31 December 1993), computer company executive, was born in Summit, New Jersey, the son of Thomas John Watson, the president of International Business Machines Corporation (IBM), and Jeannette Mary Kittredge. Watson graduated from Brown University in 1937 and began working as a salesman for IBM, covering the Wall Street district of New York City....