-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-

John Vincent Atanasoff, OCM, (October 4, 1903 June 15, 1995) was an American physicist and inventor, best known for being credited with inventing the first electronic digital computer.

Atanasoff was born on October 4, 1903 in Hamilton, New York to an electrical engineer and a school teacher. Atanasoff's father, Ivan Atanasoff was of Bulgarian origin, born in 1876 in the village of Boyadzhik, close to Yambol, then in Ottoman Empire. While Ivan was still an infant, Ivan's own father was killed by Ottoman soldiers after the Bulgarian April Uprising. In 1889, Ivan Atanasov immigrated to the United States with his uncle. Atanasoff's father later became an electrical engineer, whereas his mother, Iva Lucena Purdy (of mixed French and Irish ancestry), was a teacher of mathematics. Young Atanasoff's ambitions and intellectual pursuits were in part influenced by his parents, whose interests in the natural and applied sciences cultivated in him a sense of critical curiosity and confidence.

In June 1941 Mauchly visited Atanasoff in Ames, Iowa for four days, staying as his houseguest. Atanasoff and Mauchly discussed the prototype ABC, examined it, and reviewed Atanasoff's design manuscript. In September 1942 Atanasoff left Iowa State for a wartime assignment as Chief of the Acoustic Division with the Naval Ordnance Laboratory (NOL) in Washington, D.C.; no patent application for the ABC was subsequently filed by Iowa State College.

Atanasoff was deposed and testified at trial in the later action Honeywell v. Sperry Rand. In that case's decision, Judge Earl R. Larson found that "Eckert and Mauchly did not themselves first invent the automatic electronic digital computer, but instead derived that subject matter from one Dr. John Vincent Atanasoff".

In 1960 Atanasoff and his wife Alice moved to their hilltop farm in New Market, Maryland for their retirement. In 1961 he started another company, Cybernetics Incorporated, in Frederick, Maryland which he operated for 20 years. He was gradually drawn into the legal disputes being contested by the fast-growing computer companies Honeywell and Sperry Rand. Following the resolution of Honeywell v. Sperry Rand, Atanasoff was warmly honored by Iowa State College, which had since become Iowa State University, and more awards followed.

Atanasov visited Bulgaria twice, in 1975 and 1985. He visited Boyadzik village, where his grandfather was shot by the Turks and was warmly welcomed by the locals and his father's relatives. He was made an honorable citizen of the town of Yambol, and received the "Key of the Town". He was also given various titles by the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. The John Atanasov prize is awarded every year in Bulgaria. The 3546 Atanasoff asteroid found at the Bulgarian astronomic observatory of Rozen, was named after him.