Iowa State University

Inside Iowa State
October 23, 1998

ABC replica stops in Omaha

by Skip Derra

An authentic working replica of the world's first electronic digital computer, the Atanasoff-Berry Computer (ABC), will be turned on and demonstrated at the Durham Western Heritage Museum, Omaha, at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 28. The demonstration kicks off the ABC replica's stay at the museum through Nov. 8.

The ABC replica formally was unveiled and demonstrated last October at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Since then, it has toured several Iowa communities including Des Moines, Dubuque, Cedar Rapids, the Quad Cities and Sioux City.

Physics and math professor John Atanasoff and engineering graduate student Clifford Berry built the original computer at Iowa State from 1939 to 1942. The original ABC never was patented and eventually was discarded. The replica was built to honor the two men.

A major contributor to the ABC replica and its public tour is Omaha civic leader and former student of Atanasoff, Charles Durham, who will symbolically "throw the switch" at the Oct. 28 demonstration.

Durham, now retired, is a 1940 ISU graduate who became chairman and chief executive officer of Henningson, Durham and Richardson, a design services firm, and later, Durham Resources Inc. He and his wife, Margre, have been honored frequently for their civic and philanthropic activities, including support of Iowa State. He received ISU's Distinguished Achievement Citation, the highest alumni award, in 1992, and is an ISU Foundation Governor.

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