Kay McNulty Mauchly
Kay McNulty Mauchly Antonelli
The Kathleen McNulty Mauchly Antonelli Story
How It All Began
The earliest thing that I can remember is lying on the vestibule floor of my house with my two brothers. We were looking under the door to see if the goat was outside the house. If he was, we weren’t going out. This happened in my house in Ireland where I was born on February 12, 1921. It was in the northwest part of Ireland in a small town called Creeslough in Donegal County. Creeslough means “surrounded by lakes.” It is about 25 miles from Letterkenny. I was born on the same land where my father’s family had lived since 1804. They had received a big portion of land on the slope of a hill called Cruckatee in sight of an ugly sand mountain called Muchish. It is the second largest of 2 mountains in Donegal. Although ugly and so rocky and sandy nothing can grow on it, the Muchish sand was used to make very fine porcelain for several years .. Our land was a big portion of about 160 acres, that ran from the top of Cruckatee Hill where there was a lake down to the ocean.
My father’s family had lived there for over a hundred years. There were 7 children in his family. He was the youngest. His oldest brother was 12 years older. His father died when he was 2 and his mother when he was 14. His oldest brother had inherited the place. My father wanted to find a career for himself. An older brother had gone to America and was studying to be a stonemason. Also, he had 3 uncles who had gone to America. So, he decided to come to America, too, and take a 3-year apprenticeship to become a stonemason. One of the people who happened to study with him was John B. Kelly who later became a famous builder in Philadelphia and Washington, D. C. and even later became the father of Grace Kelly who married Prince Ranier of Monaco. My father became friends with Kelly and they remained friends for the rest of their lives. My father usually worked for Kelly.
While serving his apprenticeship, he was also active in Irish Politics in the Philadelphia Area where it was very active. My father became an Irish Volunteer (picture) and studied how to drill and train troops. The group raised money for guns and ammunition and trained to return to Ireland to throw out the British. He wasn’t all work and seriousness. He was also a champion Irish Step Dancer and won many medals for it. In 1915, he got typhoid fever and went home to Ireland to recover.
While he was there, my mother and father decided to get married. She lived about 20 miles from Feymore, the name of my father’s family farm. My father asked his brother who owned the farm if he could build a house for the couple on the farm. His brother gave him permission, and he built an American-style house. He built it in 1916 and 17. It was a 2-story house. My mother and father were married in February, 1917 and had the wedding reception in the new house. The house was built with a secret panel in the floor, where he stored a secret cache of guns and ammunition for the Irish Rebels. My father became very active in the rebellion and trained the local troops.
In 1918, my brother Patrick was born, one year later my brother James was born and 2 years later, in 1921, I was born. The night I was born, my father was arrested and kept in Derry Jail in solitary confinement for 2 years without any charges ever being brought against him and no trial. What happened was that he was with a group of men who blew up a bridge. The other men fled and hid on a hill behind our house. My father, who had left my mother with the midwife, knew my birth was imminent. He came home to be with my mother and stayed until I was born. He had time to tell them to call me Kathleen after his mother and grandmother before he was arrested by the Black and Tan. Many Irishmen were arrested that night but most of the other men with him at the bridge were not caught. After 2 years, he was brought to trial, but there were no charges against him so he was released. By the way, the Black and Tan when they searched the house never discovered the guns and ammunition hidden under the floor.
After his release from jail in 1923, my father felt that he just couldn’t live under the new Irish Free State regime, so he decided to return to America and arrange for his family to move there later. One of his brothers was in Philadelphia so my father came and joined him to form a company to buy land and build houses in Chestnut Hill, a northwest section of Philadelphia. After a while, he built a house for us in Wyndmoor, a section of Chestnut Hill, and sent for us. In the meantime, a little sister Anna was born. We made arrangements to go to Philadelphia, and we all had to be vaccinated for smallpox. My little sister got vaccine poison and we couldn’t travel until she recovered. In October, 1924, we sailed for the United States. My father met us in New York and took us to our new, furnished house in Wyndmoor, where we lived for 2 years.
We spoke only Gaellic in our house in Ireland and the United States. My brothers, however, had started school and learned English. They brought their books home and I learned to read in English, although I probably didn’t pronounce the words right. After another little sister Cecelia was born, we sold our house in Wyndmoor and bought a larger house on Highland Avenue in Chestnut Hill. When I was finally ready to go to school in 1927, I was already 61/2 years old, and I had learned English and arithmetic from my brothers. I was quite advanced for my grade and did very well in school.
When I was in the second half of third grade, I was advanced to the second half of fourth grade, thus I skipped a grade. Every year, I got the highest grades in my class. I was never absent or late. I loved school. I loved everything about it, the classes, the games, the friends, There was a library near, and I could stop on the way home from school and check out these wonderful books I wanted to read. Also, on the way home from school, there was a bank with semicircular steps in front of it. I used to sit on the steps in front of the bank and tell stories to the other children gathered around me. I told both the stories I read in books and also those I made up. Eventually, my mother would send one of my brothers to tell me to come home.
One of my favorite things to do was ice skate. When that wasn’t possible, I would roller skate. I never had my own bicycle, but I did occasionally borrow one of my brothers” bikes to ride. There was a wonderful playground in Chestnut Hill where they taught gymnastics and tap dancing. They also gave a play every year, so I was always involved in that sort of stuff. I also started to take piano lessons when I was in fourth grade. I never could sing. I never could carry a tune. I was not musical although I plunked away on the piano.
Eventually, as all the children went to school and learned English, we spoke English at home. In fact, Anna, Cecilia, and little John born in 1929, never learned Gaellic. I was always good in math, but my brother Jim hated it, so my mother made me sit and help my brother with his math problems. My brother Patrick hated memorizing poetry, but his school forced him to learn one poem such as “The Charge of the Light Brigade” every month, so my mother made me sit with him at night and listen to him recite a poem over and over until he learned it. Working with my brothers, I learned the course work for each grade long before I got there.
My father’s oldest brother got very lonely living in the family house in Ireland when all his brothers and sisters had moved away, so he decided to come to America to live with us. He cane in 1928, and he lived with us until he died at the age of 84. He never married and had no children so he willed the family home in Ireland to my father.
At about the same time, my mother’s younger brother decided he too wanted to come to America and live with us. He lived with us until he married in 1937. So all the time I was growing up these two uncles lived with us. It was a good thing actually because after the stock market crash in 1929, few people were buying custom-built houses so my father and his brother decided to split up and seek employment elsewhere. My father went to work for John B. Kelly. Most of the time, during the 1930s, my father worked in Washington, D. C., coming home only every other weekend. He worked on the Jefferson Memorial, the Treasury Building and the Pentagon.
Fortunately, the house on Highland Avenue was quite a large one to accommodate this Irish family, a mother and father, 3 boys, 3 girls and 2 uncles. The uncles were always there to help with homework or anything else that required an adult male’s help.
I absolutely loved my father. He had an easy sense of humor and had a number of quaint sayings that he would use to make a point. For example, if he asked me a question and I replied with “Maybe,” he would say “Maybees don’t make honey.” He believed that education was something that was not heavy to carry around with you, thus he wanted all of his children to get as much education as possible.
Later in life, when I visited my father’s sister in California, she told me that when he was young, my father could talk to animals. Rabbits and foxes would come and sit by him while he talked to them. I noticed in my own house when I had German Shepherds, which I love even though they tend to be protective and hostile to outsiders, they always treated him with respect and walked beside him. . We always had Collie dogs when I was growing up. Not the small Border Collies but large English Collies. .
My father was a gentle, loving man. When he died in 1978, he was living in Ireland, but we brought his body back to Philadelphia to be buried beside my mother. There were many people who came to the funeral whom I did not know. When I would ask them who they were, they would say, “You don’t know me. I just came to honor an Irish hero.”
My mother was a very attractive woman. Through necessity and temperament, she was quite bossy and managed the family very well. She could do everything. She made almost all of our clothes. If she found a particularly nice piece of fabric, she would make 3 identical dresses for Anna, Cecilia, and me. She felt that learning to be a “lady” didn’t cost anything so we girls should learn to be one. I had to learn how to do Irish crocheting, Irish embroidery, knitting, how to set a table, and how to sit down carefully in a chair. Both of my parents seemed to believe that having bright kids made them obligated to be sure that they did well in school. My mother always expected me to bring home “first” prizes. Anything else was unacceptable. She also wanted to prove that Irish immigrants could be as good, if not better, than anybody. She was very well organized and very hard working. She didn’t manage my father, however.
We were the only children on Highland Avenue. All the other people who lived there were older with children grown and gone. All of them treated us as though we were their grandchildren. We always went to show them how we looked in new clothes. They always had us run little errands for them, such as going to the store for bread or milk. My mother was always generous with her time and hard work which she gave to any neighbor that needed it.. They gave us presents for Christmas. When we had a special occasion, such as first communion, we had to go show the neighbors how we looked in our finery. It was a wonderful, friendly street.
My parents had a good relationship. They had lots of friends. Both loved to dance. There were many Irish “living out girls” in the area. These were Irish immigrant girls who worked for wealthy people. The local Catholic Church sponsored dances for these girls as well as other parishioners. My parents went to these dances as well as to parties at the Kelly house. My father always planned an outing when he came home for the weekend. I can remember canoeing on Wissahichon Creek in Fairmount Park. I remember also that there was John Barry Day every year. It was named after Commodore Barry the one that the Commodore Barry Bridge was named for. He was a famous Irishmen, and there was a celebration every year down by Independence Hall where we would go to meet famous Irishmen.
I had a wonderful relationship with my brothers. I was especially close to Jim, who was very placid, and loved history. We were close up until he died a few years ago. Also, we looked alike.
Patrick, on the other hand, was very bossy, in temperament like my mother. He was always captain of his sports team, football or basketball. No matter what was arranged, he was always in charge. I had a good relationship and understanding with him, however. For example, one time in our later years, he bought a house in Ambler near where I lived. I went to see it and he took me out to the garden where he was growing some peas. He just bent down and picked some pea pods and gave them to me. He never said a word but opened the pods in his hand and began to eat them as I also did with those in my hands. We didn’t say a word, but we both remembered doing this as children in our garden in Chestnut Hill. Although we didn’t talk about it, I just always knew that we had the same wonderful feelings about a lot of things.
My sister Anna went to the University of Pennsylvania where she majored in Accounting and went on to become a CPA. Cecila went to Chestnut Hill College for a Major in History. Then she got a Masters in Special Education and taught in the Philadelphia School System. My brother John never went to college but worked for John B. Kelly as an appraiser. Four of us were married within a year and a half after World War II. Jim in November of 1947, I in February, 1948, Anna in August, 1948, and Cecilia in April of 1949.
Outside the Home
When I graduated from grammar school, I got a prize for perfect attendance for the 7 years I was there. I got a first prize for my grades, and one for my handwriting. Unlike today, handwriting was considered an important skill. Everything was wonderful.
Then I went to Hallahan High School, an all girls school. It was located in downtown Philadelphia, across from the Franklin Institute at 19th and Vine. It took me 1¼ hours to get there every day. I rode a bus, then the subway, and walked the last mile. I went there for 4 years. All my friends went there, too. I had a great time. I never went in for any sports. I was never good at sports. I did work on the newspaper. I was a good student, on the honor roll for 3 years. My mother was ill when I was in my sophomore year, and I had to stay home to care for her. The school had the rule that a student couldn’t be on the honor roll if she missed more than 2 weeks of school, which I did when my mother was ill, so no honor roll that sophomore year.
I took only one exam for a scholarship, the Mayor’s Scholarship, but I didn’t win it. Shortly after I graduated, Chestnut Hill College offered me a scholarship because of my high school marks. That was absolutely wonderful because otherwise I had no idea what I would do. I had taken an academic course in high school. I had taken 4 years of math, 4 years of English, 4 years of Latin, 3 years of French, and s year of each biology and chemistry. When I got to college and my counselor asked me what I wanted to major in, I thought that since I was there on a scholarship, I would have to keep my marks up. The easiest way to do that was to take math as a major. I loved it and found it fun and easy to do. I didn’t want to teach. I just wanted to do the math puzzles.
I took algebra, differential calculus, integral calculus, differential equations, different kinds of geometry, astronomy, and 2 years of physics. Originally, I intended to minor in physics. At the end of my sophomore year, I begin to think about what I could do to earn a living after I graduated. What on earth could I do except teach with a degree in math? I didn’t want to teach. I thought that business sounded like a good thing, so I changed my minor to business administration. Then I took courses in business, accounting, money and banking, and anything else that had to do with business.
World War II had started in December of my senior year. My two older brothers, Patrick and Jim, joined the navy. This really shook my family up because every thing about Pearl Harbor frightened everyone. My brothers were working in what would become defense plants before enlisting in the navy. Patrick had been doing very well. He was quite ingenuous and had a number of patents, but, like all other young men, he wanted to get in a military service and do his part for the defense of the country. Actually a number of young men from Chestnut Hill were killed at Pearl Harbor
The summer before my senior year, everyone was anticipating the war, and I took a job for a company that made fuse cups out of bakelite. That summer, I thought I should do something that might be something I could do after graduation. I went to an employment agency, and they said that they had a job for a bookkeeper. I had taken accounting, but I knew nothing about bookkeeping. They told me to report to this company on Monday morning. I went to the library and asked for all the books they had on bookkeeping and proceeded to spend the weekend learning all I could about it. It worked out very well and I stayed with that company until school started in the fall
My Career During WW II
About 2 weeks after I graduated in the Spring of 1942, there was an ad in the Philadelphia paper saying, “Looking for women math majors.” The army was looking for math majors, and they were to report to a recruiting office, which happened to be the Union League in downtown Philadelphia. There were only 3 math majors in my class, Fran Bilas, Josephine Benson and me. I phoned them and suggested that we go down and apply. Jo lived in the Northeast Section of Philadelphia and she said her parents wouldn’t let her work at night. The ad had indicated there was some night work. So she didn’t go, but Fran and I went down the next day to apply for the jobs. When we got there, the recruiter asked us about what math courses we had taken. When we told him, he said that we were exactly what they needed and to report to the Aberdeen Proving Ground group at the Moore School of Electrical Engineering at the University if Pennsylvania on July 1. The Moore School was on the corner of 33rd and Walnut Streets in Philadelphia
Fran Bilas and I were hired as “computers” with a sub-professional rating of SP-6 for a salary of $1620 per year base salary with extra for Saturday. We worked 6 days a week with only Sunday off. We thought it was a magnificent salary for it worked out to be over $35 per week while secretaries made about $15 per week. In fact, it was more money than I ever dreamed of earning.
When we got to the Moore School, we were taken to a room where there were about 8 other women and 2 or 3 men. The manager of the group was John Holberton, a Southerner from Virginia with a pronounced Southern accent. The immediate supervisor was a little woman named Lila Todd. She had gotten her math degree a couple of years earlier. She was tiny but a little dynamo.
We were told that we had been hired to calculate trajectories and here was a book (Scarborough) to tell us how to do it. We read it but didn’t know any more when we finished than when we started. Finally, they showed us these big sheets of paper with columns that represented the calculations showing the path a shell traced as it traveled from the mouth of a gun through the air until it reached the ground. We were to use the desk calculator, a Marchant, Friden or Monroe, to perform the additions, subtractions, multiplications, divisions and square roots required by the numerical integration method Aberdeen used to calculate the trajectory. It took a person about 40 hours to do the calculations for each trajectory using the desk calculator.
The army supplied a complete firing table for each new gun they used. A firing table required many trajectories tracing the path of the shell for different angles of elevation of the muzzle of the gun. The soldiers used the firing table to tell them what the angle of elevation should be to reach a distant target. The trajectory calculations took into account the muzzle velocity of the shell, the angle of elevation of the muzzle, the distance the gun was from sea level, the air temperature and the humidity, all of which affected the speed of the shell, the height to which it traveled and the distance it traveled. . Many new guns were introduced during the war and Aberdeen was having a hard time getting the firing tables done for them.
Now there was a large machine called the Differential Analyzer at the Moore School. It was an analog computer, i.e. it used gears and shafts to represent the numbers used to calculate trajectories. Because of the war, it was requisitioned by Aberdeen to do these trajectories. It could calculate a trajectory in about ¾ of an hour to within 5% accuracy. It took about 3 to 4 days to set it up with the various conditions for each new gun. It was being run by army personnel with the technical supervision and assistance from Moore School personnel.
When Fran and I were at the Moore School, we did hand calculation of trajectories for about 2 weeks. Then they told us about the Differential Analyzer, which was in the basement of the Moore School. We were taken to see it and given instructions on how to set up the analyzer to do trajectories. They wanted to recall the military personnel and replace them with civilians, Fran and me. The Differential Analyzer was run 16 hours a day. The military personnel was kept on for about a year until Fran and I were trained and until 2 more women were hired because the University required at least 2 people in the Analyzer room all the time. Then Fran and I split the different shifts and each ran the Analyzer with other women.
Joe Chapline was the maintenance engineer of the Analyzer, and Cornelious Weygandt was the overall manager of it. Both Joe and Dr. Weygandt worked for the Moore School, but Fran and I worked for Aberdeen. Jack Cook and Jack Davis who were still students also worked to improve the Analyzer.
The Moore School was quite small at that time with only 7 or 8 Professors and less than 100 students. It had only 2 stories, the third floor was added in 1945
The hand calculations were more accurate than the Analyzer, so at least one hand calculated trajectory was done before the Analyzer was set up for a new gun. The setup of the Analyzer was done to mirror as much as possible the hand calculation for the first trajectory. Over time, the gears and settings would drift somewhat. The engineers were always working to improve the machine’s accuracy.
The Differential Analyzer room was marked as a “Restricted” area and the door to it was kept locked. It was also the only air- conditioned room in the Moore School. It was air conditioned to maintain a constant temperature so the Analyzer hardware would not be affected by temperature changes because metal expands and contracts as the temperature goes up and down.
I’m not sure how restricted the analyzer room was the first summer I was there, the summer of 1942, because it was ungodly hot that summer and the professors would come down and use the room for meetings. Pres Eckert and a group of engineers were working on the roof of the Moore School under a contract with MIT. It was for radar studies. It was hot, they were all in shorts except Pres, and they would come in the Analyzer room to cool off. Pres was always dressed in dark trousers with a white monogrammed shirt and tie. One time, I asked him why he dressed that way, and he said, “I just put on whatever my mother lays out for me to wear.”
Eventually, the Moore School set up a V-5 program providing officers’ training for the navy. One of those students was Josh Gray who eventually became my brother-in-law when he married my younger sister Cecilia.
In the fall of1942, Lieutenant Goldstine was sent up from Aberdeen to coordinate operations and to be the liaison between the Moore School and Aberdeen. His mission apparently was to speed up the production of the firing tables. He recruited his wife to help him recruit more women math majors or women who had had some math. She recruited women from all over the country. Adele Goldstine was a mathematician. In fact, Herman met her when she was a student of his at the University of Chicago. She set up courses to train new recruits in calculating techniques on desk calculators. Some women showed up in the Differential Analyzer room for training on its operation and use.
In 1943, we heard there was a new calculator being built at the Moore School, but we knew nothing about it. We had nothing to do with it. New employees showed up and eventually a group of women were hired to work on wiring what was the ENIAC although at that time it was called the Project X.
The first time I really knew anything about it was in early 1944. Pres Eckert and John Mauchly came into the Analyzer room one night, all excited, and said for us, Alice Snyder and me, to come and see this. They took us to an enclosed area in front of the room where the PX was being built. The enclosed area was about 6 or 8 feet square with a big sign saying, “High Voltage, Keep Out.” Inside, they had 2 accumulators connected together with a long cord attached with a control button on it (a remote control). They said, “Look at this.” One accumulator had a 5 in it. One of them pushed a button and the 5 appeared in the other accumulator 3 places over, reading 5000. We were dumbfounded and asked what was so great about that. You used all this equipment to multiply 5 by 1000. They explained that the 5 had been transferred from the one accumulator to the other a thousand times in an instant of time. We had no appreciation at all of what this really meant.
This was the famous 2-accumulator test that proved their idea for the PX (ENIAC) would work. No wonder they were excited. This was my first introduction to the ENIAC although I hadn’t seen the actual machine.
We knew this calculator was being built at the Moore School, but nobody talked to us about it, and we really had no idea what it looked like. I never went into the PX room because it was classified “Confidential” with signs saying that no one without clearance was allowed in the room. I don’t remember who told us they were looking for ENIAC operators, but I do remember that we were asked if we would be willing to go to Aberdeen with it. I thought that if that was where the job was, I would go there. I don’t remember who told me that I had been selected or even remember the train ride to Aberdeen. I do remember what it was like once we got there. This was the first time I had ever been to Aberdeen Proving Ground. I had heard about it but never seen it.
We were housed in a one-story women’s dormitory with about 30 rather austere rooms, each room was shared by two people. It was probably built on a cornfield. It was on the far side of Aberdeen. We always got there by walking. It had a large lavatory with about 8 sinks, 4 shower stalls and several toilets. It also had a large living room where we could greet and entertain guests from Philadelphia. There were 5 of us. Betty Snyder had worked for the computing unit at the University of Pennsylvania as long as I had although I had never worked with her. Marlyn Wescoff had worked for John Mauchly at the Moore School then had moved over to the Aberdeen computing group. Ruth Lichterman had been recruited from New York. I had seen Ruth and Marlyn but didn’t know them. Betty Jennings had come from Missouri, and I had never even seen her before.
Ruth and Marlyn were friends and roomed together. Although the 2 Bettys didn’t really know each other, they roomed together. I never really got to know my roommate very well, but I do remember that she got up every morning to iron a shirt for her boyfriend.
I had lived at home when I went to college so this was the first time I had ever lived in this sort of place. It was really like a barracks.
There were no cooking facilities in our dorm so we walked every night to a diner on the main highway in Aberdeen. For breakfast, sometimes, we ate in town. But usually we ate breakfast and lunch on the base. There was a small train that ran from a terminal in the middle of Aberdeen to the Army Base and to the new Ordnance Laboratory that was built to house the ENIAC and the other computers that were there, the IBM punched card machines, the Stibitz Machine.and the Differential Analyzer. Their Analyzer was about half the size of the one at the Moore School.
None of us had ever had any experience with IBM Punched Card Equipment. We had a wonderful instructor. He taught us how to handle the cards and how to wire up the plugboards to control the card reader, card punch, keypunch, verifier, sorter and tabulator. Aberdeen had a lot of punched card equipment. IBM had even built them a multiplier. I remember the woman who ran the group was Minerva Masoncup. She was a martinet but very competent. Our teacher even let us document a fourth difference board he had designed for the tabulator .He was very supportive and wonderful to us.
The Ordnance Laboratory was a new building, and it had separate toilet facilities for the blacks. I was horrified. I had never seen anything like this before. I was amazed and appalled. Maryland was really a Southern State. There were separate schools for the blacks and the whites. The schools for the whites were in town and beautiful while the schools for blacks were outside of town and shacks. I couldn’t believe that any state would tolerate this. There were not very many blacks employed by Aberdeen.
We gradually learned our way around and sometimes went to Baltimore, which was only 30 miles away, for dinner. We didn’t know each other so we had a good time discussing all sorts of things. We were all very different from each other and we had great discussions about religion, our families, politics, and our work. Me, with my Irish Catholic background. Betty Snyder, with her Quaker upbringing. Betty Jennings, with her Midwest, Bible Belt, farm experiences. Ruth, with her Jewish New York City sophistication. And Marlyn, with her more relaxed Philadelphia Jewish traditions. We had so much fun sitting up at night arguing and telling stories. We never ran out of things to say to each other. We were always happy to be with each other. We were a very cohesive group. It was a great, wonderful experience.
When we got back from Aberdeen, we weren’t really given anyplace to sit. I couldn’t go back to the Analyzer room because I no longer worked there. We just found whatever place we could to sit. The first place we were assigned was a roon next to Dean Pender’s offices. There we were introduced to Stan Frankel and his wife Mary, who were from Los Alamos. We knew nothing about Los Alamos, but we enjoyed meeting them. They had been there earlier but they were called back to Los Alamos. It turned out that they had been called back for the atom bomb test at Almagordo for the Trinity test in late July 1945.
Shortly thereafter the atom bombs were dropped on Hiroshima, August 6, and Nagasaki, August 9. Then on August 14, Japan surrendered. It was the end of the war with Japan. Everyone was ecstatic. All of us had expected the war with Japan to continue for years, but the dropping of the atom bombs had changed all of that. I remember VJ Day but it is all hazy because of the excitement. John Holberton took me to pick up my sister-in-law. Pat was in the South Pacific on Admiral Halsey’s ship, and I knew she would be delighted. We went to downtown Philadelpia where there was wild cheering, singing, dancing and laughing. Everyone was grabbing everyone else and kissing them. We were all so happy that the war was finally over. We were out of our minds with joy.
After that, we spent our time learning to read block diagrams and wiring diagrams. We had no programming manuels, just block diagrams of the machine. I do remember sitting in a classroom with Arthur Burks who told us how to read a block diagram. Nobody else remembers this so perhaps it was before we had our own places to sit. That is how we learned to program the ENIAC, by reading block diagrams.
Sometime in here, we took some time off to do some trajectories by hand. I believe John Holberton assigned them to us. Then for a couple of months, we just sat in our room and figured out how to program the ENIAC.
Finally, one day in October, we were invited down to the ENIAC room where we were met by Herman Goldstine, John Mauchly, Pres Eckert, Stan Frankel and Nick Metropolis. We were told that Nick and Stan had programmed a problem related to their work in Los Alamos and it was to be test problem for the ENIAC. We were given the strips of paper that told us switch settings and cable placements on each panel to do the problem. We had never seen any of these units before, but the punch card reader and punch which were the Input/Output for the ENIACc were familiar to us. We were all very excited because none of us, the Programmers, had ever seen it before. Nick and Stan had also worked out a test run for their problem. The Moore School group also had tests that they ran on the ENIAC. They were a series of calculations of sines and cosines to test that all the units of the ENIAC were working error-free.
The ENIAC had a feature that helped test a program as well as the hardware. It could be set to run at full speed, 100,000 cycles/pulses per second. Or it could be set to run one-add time at a time. There were 20 pulses in an add-time so it stopped at every 20 pulses. Or it could be set to run one pulse at a time. This gave the operator the chance to look at the state of the machine at these various intervals to determine just when an error had occurred. These controls were mounted on a small unit that could be held in the hand. It was attached to a flexible cable so it was a remote control. As operators, our job was to track down where an error had occurred. Once we found out which tube was malfunctioning it was up to the maintenance man, either Homer Spence or Goldstein, an army corporal, to replace the failing unit.
I worked on one of the shifts with either Nick or Stan to run the program. It seemed that Eckert and Mauchly also alternated working with Nick and Stan. Stan and Mauchly were night owls and tended to work at night while Nick and Eckert worked in the daytime. From notes we would find in the morning, it seemed that Mauchly had usually worked all night. Nick and Stan had run the IBM Punched Card Group in Los Alamos. They were very sophisticated punched card users. After the problem was finished, we were told that the Los Alamos Problem had used 1,000,000 IBM Punch cards. They continued working during December and January.
Then we were told that Aberdeen wanted to have a big event announcing the introduction of the ENIAC on Feburary15, 1946 for the army brass, government agencies, universities and world class scientists.. However, they had a pre-announcement for the press on February 1. The press was forbidden to make the announcement until after the big announcement later that month. For the Press Event, only the test programs for the ENIAC were run. The trajectory program was not run as the demonstration problem until the February 15. event. This date is always considered the announcement date of the ENIAC.
For the big announcement, the ENIAC Programmers were asked to be hostesses to greet all the big shots and show them around. Someone told me that Dr. Norbert Weiner was here. I went up to him and said I would like to take his coat and hang it some place where he could get it later in the day. He said, “Oh, my coat. I guess my wife packed it in my suitcase and I haven’t taken it out.” He had come all the way from Boston on this cold, cold day without an overcoat. Most attendees were from various universities and government agencies. That night Penn gave a big dinner with all the army brass, and I think that is the day that this picture was taken. (picture) The funny thing is that they had all the men take off their glasses so they are all squinting.
I ran the tabulator to print up the sheets that were the output of the demonstrations. These we handed out to the attendees. Everyone wanted a copy for a souvenir.
The interesting thing about that demonstration was that the neon lights that showed the numbers being calculated in the accumulators were faint and didn’t show up on the newsreels. To make them show up for the big demonstration, Pres and John screwed what looked like ½ ping pong white balls into the front of the accumulators and painted the number on the front.of the balls. This made quite a spectacular display ln the accumulators.
After the demonstration, Dr. Frankel had to leave, but Dr. Metropolis stayed and a physicist named Tony Turkovitz came and put the Los Alamos Problem back on the ENIAC. They worked for about a month. Nick left and Tony’s brother John who was a physicist came to work on the problem. Tony and John’s father was the Metropolitan (head bishop) of the Greek Orthodox Church in Chicago.
Sometime in here, the engineers decided to redo parts of the square rooter which had some flaws in it.
Then Harry Husky and Dr. Hans Radamacher from Penn did some studies on roundoff and truncation errors. The ENIAC rounded off by putting a 5 in the least significant digit of an accumulator, if programmed to do so. This meant that all numbers were rounded up when the least significant digit of a number was a 5 or larger and down if the least significant number was less than 5. As more and more numbers were calculated the roundoff errors grew. In numerical integration when replacing a curve by a series of straight lines, the calculated series of lines becomes closer to the curve when the interval of integration is small. When the interval is small it takes more and more calculations to generate the lines The more calculations the greater the roundoff errors. These studies were done to try to determine what the optimum interval of integration should be to produce the calculations that most closely followed the curved line.
Sometime in April of 1946, Dr. Douglas Hartree arrived from Cambridge, England to work on a problem that he wanted to put on the ENIAC. I understand that he had been here before and had seen the ENIAC. Although it was supposed to be a classified project, it was known about in a number of places. Apparently, Goldstine had invited a number of people from England to come see the ENIAC. Anyway, Hartree arrived with his problem that had to do with the boundary layers of the airflow around an airplane wing. He had already programmed his problem, which meant he was already familiar with the ENIAC.
I was given his program to go through and see if the programming was right. There were some errors and he and I worked together for a couple of months trying to put his program on the ENIAC We never got any useful results. One time he had to go to the University of Wisconsin where there was a world famous astronomer named Chandra Seckar. Hartree gave me all sorts of instructions on what to do if I ever got to run his problem on the ENIAC while he was gone, but I never got any time on the computer. Hartree came back and stayed another couple of weeks. I’m not sure whether he had found an error in his calculations of the problem at that time or not. But, he did leave about the middle of July, after he had given one of the famous Moore School Lectures that had been organized by Pres Eckert and John Mauchly for Dr. Carl Chambers of the Moore School. Later on, he did discover that he had made some false assumptions in his calculations, and. even if we have run it, the results would have been invalid.
Dr. Hartree was a complete delight to work with in every way. He was interesting, fun, thoughtful.
It is interesting that when I was in Aberdeen for the 50th Anniversay of cmputing there, they were still working on refinements of the boundary layer problem
Vacation At Last
I don’t really remember what all happened that summer. Eventually, we were told that the ENIAC would be moved to Aberdeen, and we wouldn’t be needed to work on it so we could take a vacation. Having not taken a vacation for a number of years, I had a lot of vacation time built up. I wrote to my aunt, my mother’s sister Margaret McCahill, in San Francisco and asked her if I could come to visit her. She wrote back that she would be “delighted” for a visit from me. In those days, nobody went anywhere by plane. One went by bus, train or automobile. I don’t remember whether I mentioned my trip to Betty or John Holberton, but both of them said they would like to go with me. John said that if he came with us, he would supply the car. That was just great. All of us had 10 weeks of paid vacation time, so we began to plan this grand trip. I wrote to my aunt Margaret that I would soon be arriving with my 2 friends. Then, I also wrote to my father’s sister, Ellen.McSweeney, in Los Angeles, that I would soon be visiting her with my 2 friends.
So, in September, we took off on our trip across country. The Pennsylvania Turnpike had been built and traveled across Pennsylvania to end up on a dirt road in Ohio. It was the only wide, paved, high speed turnpike in the country. John and I took turns driving while Betty was the navigator, read the maps and planned our route. We traveled across the cornfields of Ohio and on to Chicago. There we visited with Nick Metropolis and the Trukovitzes, John and Tony. We had dinner with them and they took the next day off to show us Chicago. We had never been there before and had a wonderful time with them.
One nice thing about traveling with John Holberton was that his father had been an agent for the Agriculture Department, and John knew every brand of cow, pig or horse and all the different crops, plants and trees. He knew them in every state across the country. I had never heard of Poland China pigs before. I never even knew that pigs were different. It was quite an agricultural education. We went to Denver, then to Boulder, and on to Salt Lake City, Utah. We stayed in the national parks and in the little motels along the way. Occasionally we would stay in a hotel for $3 per night per person. We could get a huge steak dinner for $0.60.
We traveled across California to my Aunt Margaret’s house in a suburb of San Francisco .She was close to Stamford University, and she took us there. We went to see Dr. Lehmer at Berkeley and went out to dinner with him and his wife.
Then, we went down to Los Angeles to visit the McSweenys, my father’s sister’s family there. They had a boatyard. During the war, they built PT Boats, now they were building gorgeous yachts, made out of solid mahogany. My father had not seen this sister since he was 14. She was about 10 years older than he and had gotten married and gone to America. After I got there, she called my father and I remember they were crying and talking and crying. She had 3 daughters: one was married to a lawyer who became a Federal Judge, one was married to a man who had founded the Boy’s Club of America and the other built the yachts. They all lived nearby. They showed us a wonderful time, entertained us quite royally. We went to Catalina Island, visited Mt. Palomar where we saw them polishing the mirror on the telescope there. We went to UCLA thinking to look up some professors who might be interested in the ENIAC.
One day, we went down to San Diego where Betty had a sister. From there, we went down into Mexico to see some of the sights along the border. From there, we took the famous Route 66. It wasn’t much of a route at that time. Most of the roads were just gravel roads. We drove across the Painted Desert and on to the Grand Canyon. From there, we went across country to New Orleans. I guess we had left a general delivery address there for, when we got there, I had a letter saying that my professional P-3 (Professional –3) rating had come through. That meant that I would go to Aberdeen for I had given that as a condition for going there with the ENIAC. We celebrated this happy event in New Orleans.
We then traveled across Florida to Miami. We visited with a friend of John Holberton’s in Florida. Then we headed back toward John’s home in Virginia. We arrived there on Thanksgiving. All in all, we were gone about 10 weeks. It was a wonderful trip, and when we got back found out that our dear friends Betty Jennings and Marlyn Wescoff were engaged and getting married. It turned out that only Fran. Betty, Ruth and I were going to Aberdeen.
When we got to Aberdeen, the ENIAC was just being delivered. Josh Gray and Dick Merwin were going to get their masters’ degrees for reassembling it. I spent many cold, dreary days testing it as they put it back together. I don’t remember it ever running any problem all during the time I was there. I left in February, 1948. The 60-order code, which made it a stored program computer, was not put on it while I was there. In the meantime, I had been corresponding with Dr. Hartree. When he got back to England, he discovered a major mistake in his analysis of his problem. Thus, his results were invalid. He wanted changes made to the program and rerun. I never got the chance to rerun it.
When I was there, I worked in an office next to Dr. Dederich’s. He had 7 or 8 mathematicians working on problems to be put on the ENIAC, but, strangely, nobody seemed interested in knowing how the ENIAC worked. Along about this time, George Reitweisner and some other people joined the staff, including Homey McAllister whom he eventually married. Nobody seemed to be doing anything with them, so I began teaching them. Sometime in the summer of 1947, this manuel just mysteriously appeared on my desk. It was the manuel that Adele Goldstine had written on the operation of the ENIAC. It was very good but long, long overdue.
John Mauchly had a contract with some agency in Washington, D. C. Sometimes he went down by train and sometimes he would drive down. When he drove, he would stop in Aberdeen to check on how the ENIAC was doing. Eventually, he began to stop to take me out to dinner. Over the 4th of July weekend in 1947, he invited me to go on a trip with him and his children, Sidney and Jimmy, down to the Luray Caverns. Which I did. After that, we became an item.
The ACM had a meeting in Aberdeen. Kite Sharpless from Moore School was there. His family had a home that straddled the Mason-Dixon Line. I remember he had a big party there, and I can remember seeing some of the stones that marked the Mason-Dixon. Line. John and I went to that party, and I think it was there that we began telling people we were going to get married. That was in November of 1947. That was quite a decision on my part. I knew that my family would object terribly. The night that I had the engagement party for Betty Jennings at our house, John Mauchly was there. He was going to give Betty Jean away at her wedding. When my family asked who that tall, thin man was, and I told them John Mauchly, my mother said, “Don’t ever bring him around here again.”
John had so many problems. His wife’s tragic death occurred in August of 1946. He had 2 children, plus his mother was living with him. He also had a graduate student who was working on his doctorate and his wife living with him. His mother didn’t like the couple. His children hated them because they made them do their homework and other things on schedules, and, I guess, generally ran the house differently than their mother had run it. John was trying to get a new company started. I learned later that Jimmy had cut school for 65 days by March of that school year. He was pretty desperate. The wife of the graduate student was pregnant, and they intended to leave once the baby was born. The wife did all the cooking. The baby was due in March. Also, unknown to me, he had this dreadful bleeding disease, Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia (HHT).
Because of these problems, we decided to get married rather quickly, on February 7, 1948, which threw my mother into a frenzy. She was horrified. She felt John was too old for me, being 14 years older. He had a ready-made family while I should have one of my own. His wife had died under bazaar circumstances. He was not a Catholic. He was not Irish. I had nice acceptable Irish Catholic men who wanted to marry me. He was not good enough for my mother. On the other hand, my father wrote me a letter saying, “You are 26 years old. You are old enough to make up your own mind about what you want to do. It is your decision.”
When I got up on the morning of my wedding, my parents were gone. In fact, I never saw them again until my first child was born. We were married without them at the rectory of my Catholic Church. It was a simple ceremony. My brothers and sisters were there. Pres Eckert was John’s Best Man and my sister Anna was my Matron of Honor. John’s daughter Sidney who was 9 was there and John’s first wife’s brother Edward and his wife. John’s mother didn’t come because she didn’t feel well and her sister had just died. Jimmy who was 14 didn’t come either. But, friends came although no invitations had been sent out. It was a rather quiet affair, and we went to New York on our honeymoon
We had a great time in New York going to many shows. Also we went out to dinner at his sister Betty’s house one night, and one night to his friend Henry Eisenbrandt’s house. An early ENIAC Navy student invited us to a big dinner/dance at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. One night after a show, we stopped at a bookstore. When we got back to the hotel room, John said, “I have a present for you.” When I said, ”What is it?.” He said, “Here it is. It’s a cookbook. You are our new cook.” At the time, I thought it was funny. I didn’t know how to cook. I’d never cooked.
Life with John Mauchly
When we got back home to John’s house on St. Marks Street, it turned out that Bill and Lois had the master bedroom and bath on the second floor. John had been sleeping in the upstairs living room on a couch. In those houses, this back room was very nice. That night when we got there, John’s mother met us on the stairway and said, “You’ll find linens in the linen closet.” I’d never been upstairs in their house. John said that we could make the couch into a double bed, but we were practically sleeping on the floor. We made up the bed, and that is where we slept until Bill and Lois moved after the baby was born on March .15.
The next morning, I was informed that I was the one who was to fix breakfast. It was rather rough, cooking for a household of 7 people, but somehow it didn’t seem to phase me. When I was out sweeping the porch on that first morning, my next door neighbor brought me a gift to welcome me to the neighborhood. Everybody knew we had been married because Walter Winchell, on his Sunday Night broadcast, had announced that John Mauchly, the inventor of the computer, had secretly married Kathleen McNulty. The neighbors across the street also came over with gifts. The next year, when Sally was born, all the neighbors came with gifts. It was wonderful. Those large but ordinary row houses are quite expensive today. I saw in the paper the other week that one had recently sold for $485,000.
I had my new cookbook, and Lois the housekeeper was very helpful telling me what everybody liked to eat. John loved to entertain and he invited anyone who came to town for dinner. We had a wonderful life together. I was very busy getting the kitchen painted and organized. I turned an old back stairs into storage for the kitchen. There was a big barrel in the kitchen. When I asked what it was doing there, they said that it was Grandma Mauchly’s Haviland China. She was going to ship it up to her daughter on Long Island. When I asked how long it had been there, they said that it was since Grandma came to live with them. How long was that? Three years.
The next year, Sally was born. We called her Sally because it was a name that I liked. When I was in Jefferson Hospital the day after Sally was born, my mother came to visit me with a complete layette for the baby. This was the first time that I had seen her since I was married. She and my father never invited us to their house and I didn’t invite them to mine. I had a good relationship with my brothers and sisters, however. I was surprised to see my mother and asked her how she happened to come to see me. She said that when John had called the house to say that Sally was born, my father’s first cousin Helen was there. Helen said to my mother, “I hope you are going down to see that baby.” My mother said, “I don’t know.” Helen said to her, “If you don\t go down to see that baby, you don’t deserve to ever see that baby as long as you live” Apparently, my mother took it to heart and went out to buy all this stuff for the baby and came to visit me.
We were now living on St. Marks Street, John and me. Grandma, Sidney, Jimmy and the new baby. John didn’t change his ways very much. Every time somebody new came around, he invited him/her/them to dinner. He might call late in the afternoon that he was bringing 2 people home for dinner. Maybe a new employee, somebody he was thinking of hiring, or a friend who was in town. Now, they had a grand piano, which was quite large. They kept it in the dining room, making it a music room. So, the family always ate in the kitchen. He was always inviting people home for dinner and would pull up a stool or something for them to sit on. I didn’t like it so I hired some movers to move the piano into the living room, and then turned the dining room back into a dining room. This worked out very well.
One night, John had invited several people for dinner. I decided to make a roast of beef and apple pie. When John had given me the cookbook, he had said that I could cook if I could read. I had read and did know how to cook roast beef and apple pie. Unfortunately, I cooked them in the oven at the same time with the apple pie sitting on the rack in the oven above the roast beef. The juicy apple pie bubbled over onto the roast beef so the gravy that night tasted like apple pie. One time, when Grace Hopper came to dinner, I went out to the kitchen to get the dessert. When I came back, there sat everyone with the dining room table on their laps. The Center legs had separated and the table collapsed.
John always liked to have lots of people around. He was especially fond of the Hartrees. He invited them to stay overnight with us. Our house had 2 extra rooms on the third floor. One time, the Hartrees were there and their son came down after visiting friends in Canada. The Hartree children had spent the WW II years in Canada. After I served her son bacon and eggs for breakfast, Mrs. Hartree said, “You just served my son a month’s ration of bacon.” This was 1949 and England still had strict rationing of food.
Grandma Mauchly had sold her house in Washington and moved in with John. Mary Mauchly, John’s first wife always worked. So Grandma Mauchly was incredibly lonely. Also, she had the same blood disease that John had, HHT. When I married John and was at home all the time, Grandma had some one to talk to so she told all kinds of family stories. Many of which she had never told her children. I had a wonderful relationship with John’s sister Betty, and, in later years, when I would tell her some of the family stories, she would say, “Where did you hear that?” I would just say the Grandma had told me. Betty is now 89 years old and is still teaching the piano. She can hardly see, but she can hear. (She died in 2005.)
Grandma and I got along very well. The neighborhood began to change, and a couple of neighbors were robbed. These were very tough times for John trying to get a company going and trying to get in a position to have a regular salary so he could support his family.
We decided to move and bought Little Linden Farm in Ambler for $25,000. It had originally been on the market for $50,000, but it had been on the market since WW II had ended. No one had bought it, and the owner was getting anxious to sell. It included a 21-room house and 50 acres of land. Although Mr. Eckert, Pres’s father, acted as our agent, the house was found for us by my political science teacher from college, Dr. Rowland. He had gotten interested in real estate. My father often bought and sold houses, and Dr. Rowland told my father to have us look at this house in Ambler. We loved it. The house had been built in 1701. It was definitely colonial. We bought Little Linden Farm in February of 1950 and moved in May, the day before Memorial Day after the children’s school year was over. The kids were able to enjoy this big house and the 50 acres. It was absolute heaven.
Grandma Mauchly remarried. After Sally was born, she had married her brother-in-law. The two of them bought a house jointly in Florida. They spent winters in Florida and summers with us at Little Linden Farm. It was a very full house. It had come with a houseman, Stewart, who helped me keep this place going. John was always busy and very absorbed in his work. Even at St. Marks street, we would sit in the back living room where we had spent the first weeks of our marriage. I would help the kids with their homework. John would come in and tell me about things he was working on and ask me if I thought this or that would work. He would be working on some codes and ways of addressing the computer one way or another.
As time passed, I began to pay all the bills and took over the running of the household. John had so many things to do. There was so much involved, starting a company, and John didn’t know anything about business. He just was not money oriented, in any way...
The Security Nightmare
The worst thing that happened to John was the security clearance problem. It started in 1949. That was when they were building the Binac. When the notice of his denial of clearance came in, Mr. Straus was still alive. He said that he knew Hoover personally and he would get it cleared up. The company was not doing any work that involved security devices, they were just building computers. Straus did get it cleared up.
It was strange that each time his security was questioned, it came from the Philadelphia Ordnance Department. When I got John’s FBI file, it didn’t tell me where the information came from. But, it always came from Philadelphia. It was so persistent..
This file shows that John was a subscriber to Consumer Reports which was declared communist oriented. Also, it shows him as a member of the Association of Philadelphia Scientists. John declared that he never joined such an organization The only thing he could figure out was that he may have put his name on a list for literature at some time and they took that as joining. He was also accused of hiring security risks, such as Bob Shaw.
Bob was a brilliant engineer and an albino with very limited eyesight. Bob owned a car. He could not see well enough to drive so he had various friends chauffeur him around. One time, one of his friends asked to borrow the car to drive to Washington, D. C. The friend drove it to Washington on a weekend when there was a parade that was considered pinko-oriented. Bob’s car was parked on the street while the chauffeur visited a friend. The police went along the street writing down license plate numbers. They traced the car to Bob. Bob wasn’t even there. Bob was also cited as getting various organization newsletters.
John’s file also tells the story that when the Northtrop people came to consult with Eckert-Mauchly while the Binac was being built, they felt that their hotel room had been searched one evening while they went out to dinner. They felt that it had to be someone from Eckert-Mauchly because nobody else would know they were there. Why this has anything to do with John’s clearance is hard to understand.
It is hard to believe that such garbage was taken seriously. But it was and was devastating to John. It took so much of his time. And, he couldn’t get a handle on it. He couldn’t figure out how to counter it. At this time, he was working on a program generating language with Anatole Holt and Bill Turanski . It was prior to the Fortran language developed by IBM.
Because of the clearance situation, John was not allowed in the company building. and Remington Rand put him in one of their offices downtown. He couldn’t really do work for the company so he worked on meteorlogical problems and calculations like the work he had done much earlier, forcasting the weather. John was devastated by the whole security clearance debacle. When the election publicity with CBS was proposed, John worked on it for about a year with Dr. Woodbury, who spent a lot of time at our house. John collected data on past elections in various states to develop the methodology for doing the prediction of the election. Of course, John couldn’t be there on the night of the election because he wasn’t allowed in the building.
John’s security clearance problems were not cleared up until about 1954. Then, he was allowed back in the building and he began to work with Taransky and Holt again.
Life Goes On
In the meantime, life with John was just wonderful. He liked to work at night and sleep during the day. He would get home about the time the children went off to school, eat a good breakfast, then go to bed. He got up for dinner, then go off to work. He always liked to have company for dinner. When my kids were in college, they always brought lots of their friends home for the weekend. The house was so large there was always room for whoever arrived. Also, by this time using my cookbook and knowing from experience that I always had to cook “elastic” meals that could serve any number of people, I could handle almost anything. We loved Little Linden Farm and our life there. People loved to talk to John. In fact, a number of our children’s friends have told me how much they enjoyed coming to our house and talking to John Mauchly. One of Gini’s friends went to work for Microsoft writing manuals. He wrote me how much fun he had talking to John and he dedicated one of the manuals to him.
We had 5 children. Sally who was the oldest, was born in 1949. All of our children went to Parochial School here in Ambler, then they went to Mount St. Joe’s Academy in Flourtown, which is about 7 miles from Ambler. All did well in school. Sally was a bright little girl. She skipped one or two grades. When she went to Chestnut Hill College, she majored in math. Then, she went on to Temple University in Philadelphia and got her masters degree in math education. So, she is a math teacher and now teaches in one of the big high schools in Philadelphia. She married a few days after graduating from college in 1970 to a man who was also a math major. He went on to become a doctor, an obstetrician who specializes in high risk pregnancies. They have 3 children, 2 girls and a boy.
My next daughter is Kathy who was born in 1951. She majored in biology and got her degree from Chestnut Hill College , then she got her master’s degree from Temple with a major in biochemistry. She works for Merck Sharp and Dome doing initial research on drugs before they go into the testing phase. She has 2 adopted sons and a son and daughter of her own. After John died, and I married again, she and her husband bought Little Linden Farm where they now live.
My next child is a son, Bill, who was born in 1953. He was born on my birthday. He was a math major at Temple. But, before he went to college, he spent 8 years traveling around the country with a band that he had. He gave concerts and tutorials at various colleges in different states. After college, he decided that he liked electrical engineering better than anything else, so he joined a company that made equipment to make electronic measurements of the brain. He worked there for a number of years. In the meantime, he developed a piano synthesizer. He and a group formed a company to make the synthesizers. The company did very well, and the synthesizers were sold all around the world. He finally sold it to a Japanese company. He formed a new company to build receivers that capture signals from satellites. He has about ten people working for him. He is made in his father’s and my father’s image, a wonderful combination. All my daughters adore him. He is always able to say just the right thing and do the right thing. He has a quirky sense of humor.
My next daughter is Gini, born in March, 1954. She went to Temple University and majored in languages. She learns them easily. She speaks French, Italian and German fluently. She is the only one of my children who graduated from college Summa Cum Laude. After college, she went to Germany for a year. Her husband is a fundraiser and vice president of York College in Pennsylvania. Ginil has a company that does fund raising for various organizations.
My youngest daughter Eva was born in 1958. She has always had this tremendous voice and is a really good singer. All of my children are quite musical. It doesn’t come from the McNultys. Must come from the Mauchlys. Eva went to Johns Hopkins, affiliated with the Peabody Institute of Music in Baltimore. She didn’t finish there but, eventually, came back and got her degree in music from Chestnut Hill College. She has starred in many musicals, such as, playing “Marion, Marion, the librarian” in Music Man. She gives voice lessons. She is also working on a Ph.D. She has 5 children.
Through all the years when my children were growing up, I was active in the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts .I started a Girls Scout Troup for my four daughters and stayed a leader for 14 years. For my son, I was a Den Mother of the Boy Scouts for 3 years and on the Boy Scout Committee for many years..
When I married John, my stepson Jimmy was 14, and my stepdaughter Sidney was 9. I have always gotten along with them very well. Jimmy was a teenage Hellion, but a lovable one. Sidney was never a problem, always lovable and happy. Both have become Catholics. Sidney has 7 children and Jimmy has 5. All of their children consider me their grandmother. Jimmy opened and ran a large hardware store in New Hampshire. He has now sold it, but he still works with the new owners.
All of my children including Jimmy and Sidney love each other and get along very well. Over the years John usually discussed his ideas with me and asked me what I thought of them. Once he began forming his own companies, I would be the treasurer. So I generally knew what was going on with them.
John had a horrible blood disease, Hereditary Hemorrhagic Talangiectasia (HHT). I did not know about it when I married him. I knew that he suffered from anemia and had to go to the hospital periodically to have blood transfusions. In fact, not much was known about the disorder until Yale began studying it in the last 50 years. The disease is hereditary. It is a dominant gene.characteristic disease. That means that if one does not have the disorder, that person cannot carry the disorder to the next generation. If one is a carrier, it may or may not be carried to the next generation. John’s mother had HHT. John had it. His sister did not. John’s first 2 children Jimmy and Sidney do not have it. My daughter Sally does not have it, but all my other children do have it. No one really knows why some descendents have it and some do not. It is one of the tragedies of our lives. It is hemorrhagic because it is characterized by nosebleeds and internal bleeding of the capillaries. Sometimes, there are also tumors formed in the brain, also holes in the lungs. Yale University Hospital has developed operations to sew up the holes in the lungs and to zap the tumors in the brain if they occur. Several of my children and grandchildren have gone to Yale for operations. It is called talangiectasia because it is characterized by dilation of the capillaries and the arterioles (twig of an artery that ends up as a capillary) that often form a tumor made up of blood or lymph vessels.
My daughter Eva has studied the disorder and is determined to find its cause. She has traced the family back for 200 years. They were known as bleeders because of the nosebleeds. They usually died in their teens. Although its results are quite devastating, it appears to have no effects on intelligence or creativity. She has suggested that the reason John’s 3 oldest children are HHT-free is because John was younger when they were conceived. That does not hold for my grandchildren who have it. Hopefully, someday it will be understood and cured.
There is a national organization for HHT, and it met in Baltimore recently. My daughters Kathy, Gini and Eva went. Some doctors got up to say it needn’t be diagnosed until children were in their teens. Gini got up and said, “This is absolutely false. It should be diagnosed at least by the time the children are 8. The earlier it is diagnosed, the earlier it can be treated.” Afterward, doctors and parents asked her to join them and to continue to speak out for them because nobody was listening to them saying the same things.
John stayed with Remington Rand for 10 years after they bought Eckert-Mauchly. He had a 10-years contract. After it was over, he had had it with their management. He felt that he was getting nowhere. Also, one of his promising boys, William Turanski, was killed by an automobile in Philadelphia. As he was walking down the street, an automobile ran up on the sidewalk and hit him. He died from the accident. John had been in Colorado and just come home. In the meantime, his mother had been ill and had gotten pneumonia. She was in the hospital and died on January 16, 1960. That was the same day that John got the call saying that Bill had died. Two great shocks for John, on the same day.
After Univac, John formed a company called Mauchly Associates. He had worked out a plan to use computers to manage large construction jobs. The computer program was used to plan the whole job so that materials and labor could be ordered and placed onsite just when needed. It took into account lead times as well as construction times. The technique was called Construction Project Management (CPM). He hired people to teach the method. As soon as it was set up, IBM sent a group to their classes and right away IBM set up the group to compete with Mauchly Associates. They planned construction of schools, hotels, bridges and other large projects.
I remember that I went to Algeria with John for a job. Algeria had just gotten its independence from France and wanted to build its own oil refineries. His company had the job of planning the building of them. They also wanted to build hospitals and other things.
The company did very well, but what happened was that as soon as people came and worked for John for a while, they went out and formed their own companies. They sprang up all over. So competition became pretty fierce.
Sometime in the 1970s, John formed a company with Brad Shepherd called Dynatrend. Brad had been an EDVAC and Binac engineer working on the mercury delay-line storage unit for the computer memory. He had to leave Eckert-Mauchly because his father-in-law had died leaving no one else to run his wife’s family business, the Struik Trucking Line. Brad ran it for several years until it was sold to Fruehof. Then, he got back to computers. Dynatrend’s business was to forecast the performance of the stock market. It was never successful.
Also, about that time, John began to develop adult diabetes and continued to have nosebleeds. He went back to Univac as a consultant for a short while.
The ENIAC Patent Trial was in 1973. John was asked to testify for several days. We stayed at the same hotel as the Minnesota Vikings. I remember they ate platter-size steaks for breakfast. John had just gotten out of the hospital and was suffering massive nosebleeds every morning, and he was in very bad shape. The Honeywell Lawyers had their own agenda to punish Univac and John was the victim. Plus, the Univac lawyers never called anyone from Ursinus to testify. People who knew that John had been working for years on computer components long before he met Adanasoff were never asked to testify. How could it be that they were so incompetent? It was shameful, and John was just beaten down and exhausted.
John had been interested in computers even as a child when he did calculations for his father, S. J. Mauchly, who was a physicist and chief of the Terrestrial Electricity and Maagnetism at Carnegie Institution in Washington, D C. His father developed the methods and instruments for measuring the electrical field strength of the atmoshere over the ocean and land. John did the calculations on a “Millionaire” calculator, which multiplied directly by collecting the units and tens digits of the partial products. Actually this was the way multiplication was done on the ENIAC, which looked up the partial products in a function table. This work ignited John’s lifelong interest in weather data and computation. When he was at John Hopkins University he worked on measurements and computation at the wind tunnel of the National Bureau of Standards. After getting his Ph.D.in Physics in 1933, he became a Professor of Physics at Ursinus College in Collegeville, Pennsylvania where he stayed until June of 1941.
Scientists at that time knew that the solar activity of the sun affected the earth’s meteorological data, i.e. the weather. He used some of his physics students to help collect weather maps and other data from the Carnegie Institution where he had worked, and also from the U. S. Weather Bureau in Washington. He was able to pay about 12 students through the U.S. Government National Youth Administration (NYA) to reduce the data using desk calculators, Marchants and one Monroe. With the vast amount of data, it was a slow process. He noted that most of the time was spent entering data into the calculator and most of the errors were made there, transcribing the numbers incorrectly. His first objective was to find a way to store numbers so they were entered into the calculator only once. He first thought of a storage device on the calculator.
Shortly thereafter, he came down to breakfast and said, “This egg is dancing on my plate.” At the hospital, it was believed that an infectious matter from the carotid artery had gotten up to his brain. He was unconscious for some time. Then, he was in the hospital for about a month. When I got him home, I found that he had 4 intervenous entry tubes still in his arms. When I called the doctor to ask what to do, he said, “Take them out.” “How do I do that?” “Just take them out.” And so I did. This was in 1974.
We moved our bed downstairs to a playroom that had a full bath attached. He couldn’t walk up and down stairs. Every day for a year, I got him up, gave him a shower, shaved him and helped him dress. Every day, he had nosebleeds. He finally was able to walk down the driveway. He improved enough so we could move him back upstairs.
Although John was not a good business man, he and I did make one very fine investment. That was Little Linden Farm. As Ambler and the Philadelphia suburbs were built up, our 50 acres became very valuable. We sold off some of the land and gave some to Ambler for parkland and still had 8 acres surrounding the house.
John was very bitter about the overturn of the ENIAC patent. Also Univac and IBM signed an interlicensing agreement whereby IBM would pay Univac $10,000,000 for the agreement. Pres and John’s agreement ran for 9 Years. Univac arranged for the payout to be over a 10-year period. It overlapped Pres and John’s agreement by only one year. Before he died, John was in the habit of calling Joe Chapline late at night and talking for up to 2 hours. Joe tells the story that one night John said that his life reminded him of Matthew 13,12 in which Jesus said, “For whomever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that he hath.” . That sort of sums up how he felt about the events surrounding his career in computers.
In 1979, all the kids had come down for the Christmas holidays. Jimmy and his wife and 5 kids. Jimmy’s oldest daughter had just gotten engaged so her fiancé was there. Sidney and her husband and 7 kids were there. John’s sister was up from Florida. All were staying at our house. It was quite a crowd. John was in pretty good shape and able to talk to everybody. I went in the bathroom one morning of the holiday and there was John with his nose bleeding so badly that he couldn’t get it stopped. Anyway, I took him to Chestnut Hill Hospital. .They stopped up his nose and bandaged it. That day we assembled everyone and took pictures of the whole family, with John and his bandaged nose. (picture) Finally everyone left.
A few days later, when I brought up John’s lunch, he said he was very cold. My son Bill and I hugged him trying to keep him warm. I called the doctor who ordered an ambulance. As I went to the hospital with John, he began gasping for breath, I told the attendant to put on the oxygon mask. She said, “I don’t know how.” I put it on him.
When we reached the hospital, they no more than got him on his bed when he was surrounded by about 6 doctors. When I asked what was going on, they said that these doctors had never seen a case of HHT before so they had brought them in to see one. HHT causes the capillaries under the skin to leak.
Finally, they came and said they were going to operate on him because they believed the aorta was leaking. We went to the operating theater to watch. After a while, they stopped. A doctor came out and said everything was fine. They had stopped to wait for some more oxygon. Later a doctor came out and said they had started the operation again. After about half an hour, a doctor came out to say that John had died. The aorta wasn’t leaking, all the capillaries in his body had finally completely relaxed and weren’t carrying any blood any more.
When I went in to see him a short while later, I looked at him lying there, and I was happy. It had been so long since I had seen him when his nose wasn’t bleeding and he wasn’t gasping for breath. It was a joy to see him just peacefully lying there and out of his misery. The dear man was gone, but he was 72 years old. Many times he had told me that he had already lived longer than he ever expected to live because of his disease. That was January 8, 1980.
After John Mauchly
After John died, I was often asked to speak as John’s widow for various occasions. I discovered that my time would be up and I hadn’t finished my story. My planning on time was terrible. I knew what not to do when giving a speech. So, I decided to do something to learn how to give a talk. I joined the Toastmasters Club. Shirley Lukoff(ref) joined with me. I began to plan and give small speeches, and I began to win first prizes when we had little contests. Often people would ask for a speaker from the Toastmasters Club. One time, I spoke at the Chamber of Commerce in Ambler. At the end of the year, I was told that I had been voted their favorite speaker of the year. I learned how to construct a talk and began speaking at various functions. Univac hired me to be their representative at various national sales meetings and other places. I gave the keynote address at the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the ENIAC, when we met Kathryn Klieman. I always spoke as John’s widow, not as myself.
MIT had gotten a grant from the Sloan Foundation to make an oral history of the origins of the Computer. In 1982, Pres and I were invited to Boston to be part of this project. First of all, I was annoyed because Pres refused to go. The people at the conference were very congenial I think the idea was to get the people together in groups of interest and have them reminisce about what they and others had done. I was in the ENIAC Group with Herman Goldstine, Grist Brainard, Richard Clippinger, Harry Husky and Jan Raychman. (picture)All went very well until Dr. Goldstine brought up the “stored program” concept and how it had developed in a 2-week period late in August and early September of 1944. I was surprised at his attitude during the following confrontation although he behaved in the same cold manner as he always had behaved. His attitude was that he was always right.
John and Pres had written of the stored program in a report to Aberdeen in December of 1943. Then Pres had written an article, that was really meant to be used for a patent application, for a stored program computer in January, 1944. (Exhibit) John had signed the article. Goldstine just treated this document as if it didn’t exist, and that he and I were just voicing our opinions. Brainard supported me about the December report. Goldstine ignored him. Husky said that when he came in July of 1944, Pres told him of a computer with a stored program. Goldstine ignored him . He continued to say, “Kay, you and I will always disagree.” I realized that it didn’t matter what I said, what documents I had, what anybody else said, Goldstine was going to continue treating it as if this were just an argument between the two of us.
John wrote a letter to the editor of Datamation magazine in response to an article in the May 1979 issue.The magazine ran it as an article in the October issue. In this article, John tells of von Neumann and the EDVAC. As the work progressed on the ENIAC, he and Pres realized that many things would be different in the next machine. It would have more memory and have stored programs. The work progressed in their spare moments when not working on the ENIAC, late at night and at other times. In fact, they were having meetings with the ENIAC engineers planning its design. When von Neumann visited the ENIAC project in September, 1944, Pres Eckert was skeptical of Aberdeen’s so-called expert, von Neumann. Pres said that if he asked one particular question then Pres would know if von Neumann really knew anything. He did ask the question when he saw the 2-accumulator demonstration. The question was, “How do you control it?” After that, Pres felt free to share their information with von Neumann.
When he learned that Pres and John were having meetings on the ENIAC’s successor machine, the EDVAC, von Neumann asked if he could attend the meetings. They agreed that he could. As John said, “Of course, von Neumann learned what they were doing very quickly.” But, he began using his own terminology for what they were doing. In fact, the EDVAC Report restated their design in von Neumann words for teaching or for communications purposes. In fact, when Pres and John read it, they thought it was notes on their meetings for discussion purposes. Goldstine, ignoring Reid Warren’s permission for ”internal distribution only” went ahead and basically published it by distributing it throughout the government and university communities.
In my confrontation with Goldstine as taped by the MIT Project, Goldstine said that von Neumann was very generous in giving credit to others even “if they were only in the room when he wrote,” and he was sure that von Newmann would have added notation if he had been the one distributing it. But, it was Goldstine who had distributed it and he had not made any such notations. That is a pretty thin argument, considering how important the document was to the history of computing and to Pres and John. Here, von Neumann was taking full credit for something he had not done. Von Neumann was no Ozark hill-billy. He was a world-renowned mathematician. He had access to all sorts of publications where he could have corrected the story. He chose not to do so. Thus, he wanted his unearned credit.
Let us now enumerate the ways von Neumann fouled their lives. His writing of the EDVAC Report. That report made a patent on the EDVAC impossible because it was publicly disclosed more than one year before the patent was allied for. Plus, von Neumann and Goldstine preceded Pres and John in applying for a patent. That certainly proved he was claiming credit for its invention. His influence in having the Los Alamos problem put on the ENIAC in the fall and winter of 1945 caused all sorts of trouble with the ENIAC Patent. It was argued that this secret program was “Public Use” and happened more than one year before the patent was applied for. Although the Patent Office issued the Patent, it was gratuitously overturned by Judge Larson in the Honeywell challenge to the Patent. He ruled that the patent was invalid due to “Public Use” more than a year before the patent was applied for. Yes, indeed, the curse of von Neumann lived on long after he died. They certainly did not need him to help them develop computers. They went on to build Binac, Univac amd Larc. These machines had far more influence on the course of computer history than the Johnniac, er ah the IAS machine.
Now John admired von Neumann. Esther Carr, a friend of John’s, made 18 hours of video tapes of John reviewing his life. These tapes were made in 1977. One question she asked him was who at the Moore School he had most admired.
First, he mentioned Dean Pender who had also gotten his Ph D at Johns Hopkins and had worked with Rolland its founder. John had also taken over some of Pender’s classes and they had worked together on others. Also, Pender had been a founder of IRC (International Resister Company), a very successful company that had made Pender quite wealthy.
Second, he mentioned von Neumann, whom John considered a genius and very impressive. He did deserve many honors and was a great man. But, John went on to say that von Neumann took every honor offered him, never disclaimed anything, never saying that he didn’t deserve the honor because it wasn’t his to receive. He said that von Neumann was a great storyteller. Then John went on to say that von Neumann became a great salesman promoting the use of computers, giving many speeches about computers as though he had indeed been the EDVAC inventor. John attended some of them and would sit on the front row. Von Neumann never once acknowledged him.
The third person he admired at the Moore School was Dr. Carl Chambers, whom John described as an ex-football player, who went on to get his Ph D and become Director of Research at IRC and a Professor at the Moore School. He encouraged John and told him he could make as much money as Chambers made.
The other person that John said he admired was Ronald A. Fisher, an agricultural statistician who led him to a book by Mills. This book was keyed to the work of Pierson who turned John on to the use of statistics to determine if a theory was true. John felt this was a turning point in his thinking. He then joined the Institute of Math Statistics and from then on statistics became an important tool in his problem solving.
In his career, the most admired and dominant person was Pres Eckert. As John described him, he was the one who was responsive to his ideas, not with skepticism but with the positive response that it could be done with care. He was the most influential person in the history of computer devices. Pres was the one who insisted that all the engineering work be done with extreme care to ensure reliability. He was the one who insisted the vacuum tubes used in the ENIAC be ordinary tubes made in great quantities by the manufacturer so he could do reliability and life tests on many tubes. He was the one who insisted that all the circuits were designed to rigid standard with components used to 50% to 55 % of capacity so that if a unit didn’t perform quite up to par the computer still worked. He was the one who insisted the ENIAC not be turned off because the surge in current when first turned on caused tubes to fail. It is his meticulous emphasis on life tests and reliability that convinced other engineers that he was the greatest engineer of the 20th Century.
John says many interesting things in these tapes. When asked if he had anticipated the speed of developments in the computer industry. He said that he had. He just wondered why it took so long. He said that someone had said that it took 5 years to build a computer from its inception to its completion. He remarked that it had taken just that for the development of the Univac. He did say that he never, never anticipated the miniaturization of the computers. That was a total surprise and a profound development. This was 1977 and he held in his hand a Texas Instruments hand calculator, which John pointed out contained more computing power than the ENIAC and almost as much as the Univac. He was delighted with it. In fact, I remember that John had someone at Texas Instruments on the phone almost every day asking questions of why they did this or that.
When asked about his greatest accomplishments, he did mention the Univac, but surprisedly, to me anyway, he felt the development of magnetic tape as a mass storage device was a major breakthrough for commercial processing almost as great as the Univac itself. Up to this time, the tapes were either paper tapes or acetate tapes. These were much too slow. They wanted to use metal tape because it was strong and reliable. The tape needed to run at speeds up to 10 feet/second to match computing speeds.
Ted Bonn was given the job of figuring out a coating for the metal tape to provide for reliable reading and writing at high speeds. Frazier Welch was given the job of providing the mechanical means for moving and handling the tape. According to Ted, metal alloy on metal tape was not good enough. Ted had fashioned a loop of metal alloy tape with the 2 ends soldered together. John was looking over Ted’s shoulder as he was testing the tape. There was no electrical output until the tester came to the soldered joint, but John noticed it gave an electrical output there. This gave Ted the idea of electroplating the tape instead of heating because heat treatment as done with the solder weakened the base metal. Eventually, Ted developed a coating made up of nickel, cobalt and phosphorous. The same plating was used on the Larc drum and on the Fastrand drum used on the Solid State 90.
To make the magnetic tape fast enough to keep up with the Univac, it was written on the tape in blocks of 60 words each. A word consisted of 12 alphanumeric characters. Each alphanumeric character consisted of 7 bits. Two bits were the zone bits. Four bits defined the character within the zone. One bit was the parity bit, which assured that the character had an odd number of bits in it. If a character already had an odd number of bits in it the parity bit was zero. If the character had an even number of bits in it or no bits in it, the parity bit was a one. This was the main odd/even checking system in the Univac although all circuits that did not get checked by the odd/even check were duplicated and their output checked.
The reason John felt the magnetic tape was crucial for a commercial computer because of the need for a mass storage device that could provide permanent records. It could be changed and it could be handled. The Census Bureau bought the first Univac. It did the census every 10 years. They collected a tremendous amount of data on each resident of the United State: age, race, sex, marital status, address, employment, education, national origin, and family relationships. This data was used to determine public policy in many instances by the federal government as well as state and local governments. It was used by researchers in many different fields. The data was stored and sorted over and over again using different criteria.
In fact, the Census Bureau had spurred the development of punched cards in the early 1900s. Prior to Univac, punched cards were their storage device. In order to compare past data with current data, Univac had a punched card to magnetic tape converter.
In talking of the importance of computers, he stated that he felt that perhaps their greatest achievement might well be their skill in information retrieval. This was 1977 long before Google. He would have loved using the wonders of Google. He pointed out that sciences were becoming so complicated that keeping track of things was humanly impossible. Computers were needed for that. He also mentioned CAT (Computer Aided Technology) scans in medicine where doctors could see 3-dimensional pictures from getting very tiny samples.
When asked what is important now, John replied that what is important is, “What is next.”
I Move On
The house at Little Linden Farm was huge and far too big for me to live in alone. My daughter Kathy, who had adopted 2 little boys, said that she would move in and live with me for a year. If she and her husband felt they could manage it they would buy it from me. Living with them that year, I found that I had no privacy.
There was a carriage house on the Farm and I thought about converting it into a place for me to live. One of my friends told me about a man who had converted a carriage house on a farm in Ambler to a residence. He asked me if I would like to see it. I said, “Sure.” He made an appointment, and we went out to lunch with the man, then on to see his house. It was a beautiful house with a central spiral staircase, large hall, living room, dining room and kitchen. It had been designed by a student of Frank Loyd Wright. The farm had belonged to his wife’s family, and they had rebuilt the carriage house on an acre of ground. As soon as I walked in, I said there was no need to show me anymore because this was much more elaborate than what I had in mind. We left.
The man who owned it was Severo Antonelli. The next week, Severo called and asked me out to lunch. He was a photographer and had three photography schools in the Philadelphia area. He was also quite a famous photographer. He had been into a style called “Futurism,” which had started in Italy in about 1910. There was going to be an exhibit of his work in New York and he asked me to go to it with him. I accepted and he hired a limousine to take us to New York to the exhibit.
That fall, he went off to Florida to a condo he owned down there. He went with his brother and sister-in-law. At Christmas time, he sent me a huge bouquet of flowers and again at Easter. Kathy questioned me but I said they were from someone I hardly knew. When he returned to Ambler in the spring, I. met some of his friends. He was very social and belonged to numerous organizations and Italian societies. He and his wife never had children, and she had died several years earlier. By this time, John had been dead for about 5 years.
After he came back from Florida, Severo began to take me out to lunch. He belonged to a group called the America Italy Society, which had been formed to update and restore deteriorating artworks in Venice. Each year, they raised money for this project. That year, they were sponsoring a trip to Northern Italy. It was expensive, and I had been to Italy a couple of times with John. But, I had never been to Italy with anyone who spoke Italian. Severo was Italian and spoke Italian fluently. I decided it was too good an opportunity to miss. It was a 2-week tour. I decided .to go. There were about 40 people on the tour. All were associated with the arts in Philadelphia, such as the Philadelphia Opera, the Orchestra, the Academy of Fine Arts. It was a magnificent trip. We had a wonderful time.
We stayed in a grand hotel in Bologna. They had a Mercedes Bus with an Italian guide, actually a countess. In every town we visited, the mayor would invite us to lunch. Each town had its own special pasta, but not a tomato did we see in Northern Italy. We had tours of an automobile factory, a procutto factory where they hang the hams to cure, different vineyards, plus all the art galleries, and the Stradivarius museum, We also went to an opera.
At the end of the 2 weeks, Severo asked if I would like to go down to see his hometown. I said that we were scheduled to go home the next Tuesday. Severo said he would make new reservations if I would go with him. Which I did. His little town was about 20 miles from the town of Pescara towards the middle of Italy, on the Aegean Sea side. That is a city of about 1,000,000 people. His little town is called by its old Latin name, Faeo Filiorum Petri, which means the Association of the Sons of Peter. It is a walled town high up in the mountain. This was in October when we were there, and it was absolutely beautiful. There was the house where Severo had lived until the age of 13 when he came to America. His grandfather had been a guard of the town. His father was a cabinetmaker. He came to the United States and eventually became the head cabinetmaker at RCA in Camden. In 1920, when his father had made enough money to buy a house and support his family, he had sent for his wife and 3 sons.
After Severo came to the United States, he became a photographer, a very good one. He had gone back to Italy when he was 22 to photograph the triumvirate ruling Italy. It included Mussolini. Severo’s picture of Mussolini appeared on the front page of Time Magazine. This would have been in 1931 or 1932. Severo went on to photograph many celebrities in Philadelphia and actors and actresses traveling through Philadelphia. He photographed Leopold Stokowski who was then conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra.
We visited his relatives, and they were all gracious and wonderful to us and to me. He also had a friend there from Phildelphia, who had come to Italy and married a doctor. He had a hospital there, and it had been one of the first hospitals in Italy to do MRIs. People came there from all over Italy for treatment. They were quite wealthy and had 4 cars in their garage. One day, Severo told me that his cousin, Mira, had said to him in Italian. “Don’t let her get away.” Then he asked me if I would consider marrying him. I said that I would. I was so delighted with everything. We called home to tell his brother that we were getting married.
After we got back, I began to plan my wedding. In November, I decided to stage a reunion of the ENIAC crew. Severo belonged to the Union League. In fact, he had joined at the same time as Leopold Stokowski joined. A new hotel called the Four Seasons was opening in Philadelphia on the Parkway. Severo had met the new manager at the Union League so he asked him if he could give me some special rates for my reunion. The manager could and did. We had wonderful rooms and facilities for very modest prices. All of the ENIAC crew attended, John and Betty Holberton, Homer and Fran Spence, Marlyn and Phil Wescoff, Ruth and Adolph Teitlebaum, Betty Jean Bartik and me. (picture.) What a grand time we had catching up and reminiscing. We spent the weekend there. It also gave me a chance to introduce everyone to Severo.
We were married on December 27, 1985. I left Little Linden Farm and I moved into Severo’s house with nothing but my suitcase and my Waterford glassware. John had given me a cookbook on my honeymoon. Severo arranged for his sister-in-law to come to our house during our first month of marriage to teach me how to cook Italian food.
An interesting thing happened 10 years later when Severo had died at the nursing home close to my house on December 14, 1995. I waited for the undertaker to come to take him to the funeral home. When he arrived, he told me, “I remember when you got married.” He explained that when I called the Monsignor to tell him that I wanted to get married, he was there at the rectory. The Monsignor was out so another priest answered the phone. When he hung up, he said, “Oh, somebody wants a quicky marriage.” When asked who it was, he answered, “Mrs. Mauchly.” This young man knew me and he thought it was funny that a 65 year old woman would want a quicky marriage. I had called at the end of October and wanted to get married in December. The Catholic Church normally required a 6-month cooling off period except for the quickies.
After Severo and I were married, he would go with me when Univac sent me to various places to speak. He went to Texas and California. One time he suggested that the Union League invite me to give a talk about the ENIAC. They did invite me and I did speak. At the end of the year they voted my speech the most interesting one of the year. This was before they had women members. It isn’t that I’m such a great speaker. It’s that the subject is so interesting.
My life with Severo was different from anything I had experienced before. He was very social and we went to many social functions. We went to Italy every year. We went to Florida every winter. He was interested in the fine arts as were his friends. He had great taste. He had all his clothes made in Italy. He went with me to pick out my clothes. I had beautiful clothes.
He loved my children, but he came first in my life. In fact, before we were married, he asked me if I could place him first in my life and I did. He was a wonderful man, and I was always glad that I had married him. He died of Parkinson’s Disease, which is a cruel disease. The last 2 years of his life were sad, but he lived a long full life. We had 10 years together. He donated a room in the Woodmere Gallery in Chestnut Hill. His first wife was a beautiful model and lots of his pictures are of her. The Woodmere has an exhibit of his photos every 2 or 3 years.
Life As a Celebrity
All the years I gave talks about the ENIAC, I always talked about it as John’s story, not my story. Although I mentioned that I had been an ENIAC Programmer, it was just in passing. I told of John’s part in the development of ENIAC, about Binac and Univac, and his companies. I wrote a monthly article about John Mauchly for a little bulletin for some computer club. A member of that club arranged for Jean Bartik, Kathe Jacoby and me to speak at Princeton about our experiences. I think that was the first time that I spoke for myself.
In 1984, I wrote an article for the Annals of the History of Computing on John Mauchly’s Early Years.(ref) It was written in response to an article by Arthur and Alice Burks about how John had gotten the idea for ENIAC from Dr. John Atanasoff. My article pointed out that John had been interested in computing since he was a young man and had been working on devices to help him reduce weather data for years before he ever met Atanasoff. John had made an early attempt to make a flip-flop counter using neon tubes. He had envisioned decade counters that were controlled by electronic switches to transfer date from one counter to another. He had designed and demonstrated a cipher machine that was digital, used flip-flops and had a function table, all elements used in the ENIAC. He built a biquinary counter, a pulse former to ensure the reliability of the counter. In 1939-1940, he built an Harmonic Analyzer. He built a voltage regulator for his analyzer again to ensure reliability. He understood very well the care needed to ensure that his computer didn’t drop a pulse. In fact, John had a reputation for constantly talking about computers. The president of Ursinus College was quoted in John’s FBI Security file as complaining about John’s lectures and his only thinking about computers.
Despite the Ursinus President’s disdain, John’s Christmas lecture, which included a skit on how to determine what is in a Christmas package without ever opening it, was so popular other professors dismissed their students to hear it. He used the laws of Physics to give him the clues to its contents. He measured it. He weighed it. He submerged it in water. He poked it with a long needle. The night before the last day before Christmas break, the students generally stayed up all night partying. The professors couldn’t dismiss the students. On the other hand, the students were too wasted to concentrate on anything. But, the professors could dismiss them to go to John’s lecture. It was so well attended if was generally held in the auditorium. Some of the professors were actually sitting in the front row.
John’s lectures on Newton’s Laws of Motion were also well-known and popular because John built what later became a skateboard by fixing roller skates to a board. He skated into the classroom, climbed up on the lab table and demonstrated the forces of motion on the skateboard on the desk. Years later, a professor said the marks made by the skateboard were still on that lab table. His exciting lectures were developed because, when he came to Ursinus, it had no Physics Department and gave no degrees in Physics. It gave the course only to pre-med students who required it. At that time, there were only 3 med students in the school. He needed to attract students to his courses. Later a general science course was required by all students to graduate and John would teach that course. Gradually, he did build up his Physics department.
In fact, John met Atanasoff when Atanasoff came to hear John’s talk on the Harmonic Analyzer at the AAAS meeting in Philadelphia in December 1940. John was delighted to meet Atanasoff because he was also interested in computers. They were kindred spirits. Atanasoff told him he was building a computer to solve linear simultaneous equations. He invited John to come out to Ames, Iowa to see it. He said that it used vacuum tubes and it cost only $2 per digit. John also was interested in using vacuum tubes in his computer, and he wondered how Atanasoff could build something so cheap. Atanasoff was very secretive about his computer and refused to tell John about it unless he visited him. Atanasoff appeared concerned that IBM or some other company would learn of his ideas. This visit was, according to the Burks duo, the inspiration for the ENIAC. In the article, I traced how John’s earlier work had led naturally to the conception of the ENIAC.
In 1991, Arthur and Alice Burks authored The First Electronic Computer The Atanasoff Story. In this book, they proceed with a venomous attack of John’s integrity and intellectual acuity. On page 181, the book says, “they (Pres Eckert and John Mauchly) were greedy, for fame and fortune, and did not want to acknowledge any prior inventor.” This despite the fact that Mauchly and Eckert had asked all the ENIAC engineers/designers (Shaw, Sharpless, Chu, Burks, and Husky) prior to the patent application if they had anything they wanted to patent, and the response was, “No.” In Appendix B in the book, they rip me apart, also impugning my integrity and honesty. They make fun of me. Anything that presents Mauchly in a good light is discounted and anything that even vaguely shows Adanasoff in a good light is lauded to the heavens. Adanasoff never applied for a patent of his ABC computer. He never thought that he had invented the first electronic computer until Honeywell told him that he did, and, if they could overturn the ENIAC Patent, they would pay him $300,000.
Atanasoff’s department at NOL was given $400,000 to build an EDVAC-like computer he never built a thing. The money was taken away from him because nobody in his group could build one, according to von Neumann as recounted by Calvin Moors. (ref)
Throughout his life, John was known as a born teacher and a very giving person. As mentioned earlier, John trained his competitors when he was in business. He was always full of ideas and suggestions about projects of all sorts. He characterized his time with Atanasoff as mainly spent talking about such questions as, “Why didn’t you…?” “Why not do…?” “How about…?” Atanasoff’s ABC computer was partially built. It was a combination of electronic and mechanical so it could not really utilize the speed of the vacuum tubes that it used for calculations. John wasn’t interested in it for his purposes. The low price per digit was due to the storage being mechanical in nature.
The Burks book made me literally sick to my stomach. I gave it to my son to read, and he said, “Mom, ignore it, the truth will take care of itself.” And so I did. However, an incident had occurred that had always bothered me. . When the ACM (Association of Computing Machinery) had its annual meeting in Washington in 1967. John and I had a small suite at a hotel. When we arrived back at our suite one evening, there was a message from Arthur Burks saying that he wished to speak to John. When he arrived, he told us that he wanted to talk to John privately. I went into the bedroom while John met with Dr. Burks.
John returned in about 5 minutes in a fury. He said that he wouldn’t be a party to blackmail. Arthur had told him that a lawyer had suggested to him that he could make some money from the royalties Univac would receive from the ENIAC patent if he could get his name on the patent. As John understood him, Arthur would testify at the ENIAC Patent Trial for Univac if Arthur’s name was put on the patent, but he would testify for Honeywell if it was not. Although he was angry, John was also hurt because he had liked Burks, had roomed with him when they both took the Moore School Electronics Course before both became instructors, and had respected him as a logician and a member of the ENIAC design team.
In his Deposition for the ENIAC Patent Trial, John tells something of this incident.in pages 1426 through 1430. John said that Arthur indicated that if Mauchly could be persuaded that there was “ propriety in these claims on his (Arthur’s) part and on the part of others, that it would be very helpful if I would join with them, announce my help; and that, on the other hand, if I did not, he (Arthur) thought that things would go very badly and my reputation would suffer, indeed.”
In a series of Customer Reviews on Amazon.com of the Alice Burks book Who Invented the Computer? between Jean Bartik and the Burks duo, Arthur denies that this meeting ever took place. He had been careful to make sure that there was no witness to the meeting by asking me to leave the room. I, however, had an uneasy feeling about this encounter and wanted to preserve my memory of it. When Nancy Stern was writing her book From ENIAC to Univac, I told her of this incident. She accompanied me when I went to Univac and signed an affidavit describing the Burks visit and John’s reaction to it.
When Tom Petsinger’s articles appeared in the Wall Street Journal in 1996, they were really about Betty Holberton and Betty Jean Bartik and not much about the other ENIAC Programmers. The Women In Technology International inducted all six of the ENIAC Programmers into their Hall of Fame in 1997. I missed the ceremony because I was booked on a tour to Paris with some friends from Chestnut Hill College days. I was flattered. The next year, we were invited to Boston where we received the WITI Hall of Fame Statuette. It is beautiful. I felt that the women in computers today couldn’t really relate to us. The times were so different. I enjoyed meeting Milly Koss and having lunch at Harvard.
When Aberdeen celebrated the 50th anniversary of the introduction of the ENIAC, Judith Eckert and I were invited to attend. I really think it is fine to honor people who have spent many years working in the computer field. But what did Aberdeen do? They spent their money flying in Gillan’s family from Germany. Gillan named the ENIAC. Then who did they have as the keynote speaker? They had von Neumann’s daughter. I’m sure she is a bright woman. But von Neumann had nothing to do with the ENIAC until afterward when he worked on the instruction set of the 60-order code. Who was the man of the hour? Goldstine. The review of the troops, the panel discussions, the overblown oratory without once mentioning Eckert and Mauchly. Oh, yeah, they had Judy Eckert and me cut the cake. The handouts included Goldstine’s book, a lecture he had given and a few odds and ends. The only thing worthwhile was a panel of the women who had worked on the ENIAC.
The Aberdeen crew members were trying to celebrate themselves. They introduced a poorly designed commemorative stamp (Exhibit). Moore School had one designed that was very appropriate, ENIAC spelled out in vacuum tubes. Aberdeen thought that honored Moore School too much. They didn’t want to give Moore School any credit. Aberdeen footed the bill so they deserved the credit. My cousin had initiated the stamp in the first place. It was infuriating that Aberdeen had cancelled the original stamp and approved that ugly meaningless stamp. “No good deed goes unpunished.”
Betty Jean Bartik and I have given many, many talks together at universities and companies including IBM and Microsoft. We have done the speaking because Fran and Marlyn have never been interested in doing it. Ruth had died. Betty Holberton had a stroke in 1991 and was confined to a wheelchair. I love doing it, but I mainly talk about being there. We even gave the keynote speech for an awards banquet of ACM. I went with Betty when Northwest Missouri University named their computer museum after her. I worked for over 2 years on the ENIAC before I married John Mauchly. After that, I was involved in the computer industry only through John. But, thinking about it, most of our lives have been spent around those who had been associated with ENIAC.
One day in 1997, I received a telephone call from an Irishwoman named Pat Sharky. She had been doing some geneology searches on the internet. Her mother had been a McNulty, and she discovered me. Not only was I a McNulty but I had also been an ENIAC Programmer. Pat was an entrepreneur with her own business of advising people about setting up websites on the internet. We talked several times. Then she got the idea that various people in Ireland would be interested in learning about me because Ireland had a large software industry but no connection to computer history. I could be a connection. What she proposed was to make a documentary about me. She would find funding to bring me to Ireland to visit various places while she would have me videotaped by a professional crew. Later she would visit the US with her crew and videotape me at the University of Pennsylvania and at my home with my family.
She did get funding from 3 places: Limerick University, Dublin University and the Institute of Technology in Letterkenny. I had told her that I usually traveled and spoke with Betty Bartik, so she was included in the trip. We had a wonderful time. Pat met us at the airport in Limerick and took us out to Bed and Breakfast for the night. The next day we went to Bumratty Castle and visited around town. It looked very much like the descriptions given in Frank McCourt’s book, Angela’s Ashes. It is a dreary looking little town, but I knew it was home to Irishmen with dreams. That night we went to the Castle for dinner. It was wonderful. ( picture of us at Bumratty Castle)
The next day, we spoke at Limerick University where our photographer and a crew met us and videotaped us. From then on, we were shadowed by the cameraman videotaping us all the time. I was not too disturbed by it because I had been followed around by photographers many times when I was with John. Betty was more bothered by it for a while.
In Dublin, we spoke at the University there. Then we were off to Donegal and the Letterkenny Institute of Technology there. I was so surprised when we arrived and I was met by about 20 of my relatives in Ireland. Somebody had contacted all of my relatives in the area. Some I had never even known I had. It was wonderful. They were all invited to our lectures and to the luncheon afterwards. Our pictures were taken for various newspapers around Ireland. I had a wonderful time. They also named an award for me. The award goes to the best student in computer science each year.
The next day, we visited my father’s home at Feymore and some cousins. I was so upset because my father’s place was run down and not well-kept. Later we met up with a free-lance photographer in Letterkenny. He said the light was bad in Letterkenny so he took us to a bridge for some pictures of me draped over a bridge rail. I thought it was a little much for an old lady like me. I never saw the pictures that were published in the Irish newspapers.
The greatest delight of my life was being married to John Mauchly. Somehow, he was always bigger than life. He was so intelligent and had so many ideas. It was a joy being with him. He was not only lovable, he was loving.
The next biggest joy of my life are my children, grandchildren, and now great grandchildren. Sidney and Jimmy and their children and grandchildren are included as mine also. They all love each other and are included in everything. I have had a wonderful life.
The only thing that I really regret is that Pres and I did not write our book about the ENIAC, EDVAC and Univac. Pres was always very angry about the lies that were told and copied from one book to the next, He said that they could go ahead and write their books, but he and I would write one telling the real story. When I wrote the article for the Annals in 1981 about John’s work at Ursinus, Pres came over every day to help me. He said then that we should go on and write the full story. One time, he, Judith, Severo and I went to a banquet in New York when ACM moved to new headquarters. It was in 1990/91. We went up by limousine. On the way home, Severo and Judith went to sleep. Pres and I talked all the way home about what we would put in the book. Somehow, we were wrapped up in our lives and never got around to writing the book.
If I am remembered at all, I would like to be remembered as my family storyteller. It has been a great life.