Plugging into History: ENIAC’s Electrical Power Demands


Could you detail the electrical power requirements for operating the ENIAC system?


The ENIAC required a staggering

150 kilowatts

of power to operate. To put this into perspective, an average modern laptop consumes around 60 watts of power. This means the ENIAC used the equivalent power of approximately 2,500 laptops!

Cooling System:

Due to its immense power consumption and the heat generated by its 17,468 vacuum tubes, the ENIAC needed a dedicated cooling system. This system included transformers and an elaborate setup to prevent overheating, which was crucial for maintaining the machine’s operational stability.

Physical Size and Infrastructure:

The machine’s physical size was also a testament to its power requirements. It weighed over 27 tons, took up 1,800 square feet of floor space, and required two 20-horsepower blowers to deliver cool air.

Operational Costs:

The operational costs for the ENIAC were significant, not just in terms of the electrical power but also the maintenance and infrastructure needed to support such a large-scale machine.

In conclusion, the ENIAC’s electrical power requirements were a reflection of its era—an age where the scale of computing power was directly proportional to the physical and power footprint of the machine. Its legacy, however, paved the way for more efficient and powerful computing systems, leading us to the compact and energy-efficient devices we use today..

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