Newsreel reveals that even 1946 debut of ENIAC was greeted with ‘1984’-ish suspicion

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Credit: U.S. Army via Wikipedia

A “today in history” post from The Poynter Institute includes an old newsreel showing that ENIAC, the first general-purpose electronic computer, was also the first to raise the specter of government prying eyes ... or a least a look over your shoulder.

Here’s that 20th Century Fox newsreel, with a transcript below for those who’d rather read:


In 1946, moviegoers got their first glimpse of an astonishing new machine.

Are people becoming obsolete? A giant electronic brain has started cogitating at the University of Pennsylvania. It’s made of vacuum tubes like your radio and it can add up a column of figures a yard long in a second. It’s the world first electronic computer. Right now it’s solving mathematical problems for the U.S. Army, but who knows, someday a machine like this might check up on your income tax.

Or, who knows, maybe even monitor your phone conversations?

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