"ENIAC was absolutely seminal," he says. "When it was announced it was like 'giant brains hit the world.' The fact that this machine could calculate the trajectory of an artillery round faster than the round itself would actually travel to its target was astounding."
The importance of ENIAC was that it was built for a specific purpose for the war, but was seen as a springboard for so much more by visionaries who saw its potential.
"That was the beginning of what grabbed people's attention," Marcus says. "Certainly the people who built it then became drivers for the commercialization of computers. Everybody else thought computers were only useful for figuring out scientific tables like logarithms tables and ordnance calculations."
And that's when Eckert and Mauchly realized what it all meant. "It turned out that people thought this work was what computers were for, but after you printed such tables out once, you didn't ever need another one," Marcus says. "These guys knew better from the beginning and they really understood that."
Todd R. Weiss covers Enterprise Applications, SaaS, CRM, and Cloud Computing for CIO.com. Follow Todd on Twitter @TechManTalking. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline and on Facebook. Email Todd at email@example.com You can also join Todd in the "CIO Forum" group on LinkedIn.com to talk with CIOs and IT managers about the things that keep them up at night.