ILLIAC: First automatic electronic digital computer entirely built and owned by an educational institution | 150 Engage Illinois Office of Corporate Relations
Celebrating our Sesquicentennial 1867-2017
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Physics Professor Ralph E. Meagher and colleagues developed ILLIAC I, the first digital computer entirely built and owned by an educational institution. ILLIAC I became operational on September 22, 1952. It used 2,800 vacuum tubes, and measured ten feet high, two feet wide, and eight and a half feet tall. It was used by Lajaren Hiller, director of the Experimental Music Studios, to compose and play the ILLIAC Suite, the first computer-composed composition. ILLIAC progressed through five generations, securing Illinois’ reputation as the leader in the field of largescale, high-performance computing. Each new ILLIAC incorporated innovations in architecture, memory, logic, and software that spread throughout the computer world. The ILLIAC series culminated in the mid 1960s with the ILLIAC IV supercomputer at the time the fastest and largest in the world.

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Sep 22, 1952
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Ralph Meagher and Logan Huffman with ILLIAC, July 1951. Credit University Archives.
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Ralph Meagher and Logan Huffman with ILLIAC, July 1951. Credit University Archives.