My Brush with greatness

When my daughter started her freshmen year at University of Pennsylvania, her assigned housing was the dormitory Hill House. Across the street from Hill House is the Moore School of Electrical Engineering. This was of particular interest to me since Moore is famed as the birthplace of the computer industry. The first complete digital electronic computer, the ENIAC, was built between 1943 and 1946 at Moore School of Electrical Engineering. I told Amy I wanted to visit Moore as a part of ENIAC was still housed at the school.

I have occasionally been asked by a client to help an interested parent by providing some computer assistance. I was working with a retired business owner who had a request from a neighbor for some computer help. On the appointed day, I sat down at his computer to begin when suddenly the connection was made. I said, ‘Herman Goldstine … are you the Herman Goldstine associated with ENIAC?’ He said, ‘yes I am one of the three from the project.’ Just six months after expressing my desire to visit Moore I found myself sitting down one of the people instrumental in ENIAC. After regaining my composure, I said, ‘Herman what am I doing working on this computer, you are the one of the fathers of this thing?’ His response, ‘these machines today are baffling.’

From that time forward till his death in 2004, I was honored to be Herman’s friend.

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