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ENIAC Announces Extended Support For Windows 48
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UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - Alice and Arthur Burks, chief developers of the ENIAC computer in 1946, have reversed an earlier announced decision to discontinue support for the machine's flagship operating system, Windows 48. "We thought most users had since migrated to at least Windows 55, since it had paper-tape support. But our support teams in some smaller markets have indicated that Win48 is still alive and kicking for many of our customers," said Alice Burks, explaining the couple's decision.

The ENIAC, with its 18,000 vacuum tubes, is widely held to have ushered in the age of general-purpose computing. "We immediately saw the need for a friendlier interface," said Arthur Burks, "so we sat down at the kitchen table and starting drawing out ideas on it with a grease pencil." (The stub of that pencil is on display at the University.) The interface they worked out was a far cry from modern computer interfaces, but it was a solid step up from the need to manually swap vacuum tubes and flip switches to input data. "It gave people a window into the machine, so the name came very naturally. We later licensed the name to that nice Billy Gates. I understand he's done very well with it," said Mrs. Burks.

The incredible heat and the lack of replacement vacuum tubes makes maintaining an ENIAC computer an expensive venture, but die-hard adherents wouldn't have it any other way. "I can't print from it, of course, and there's no screen or mouse. Or keyboard. But I tell you, I can feel her thinking," said one ENIAC owner, "the floor shakes a bit, you can feel the room heating up. It's quite an experience. Win48 is all I can run, though. Win55 takes too much memory. I only have a 1,500 byte register," he lamented, pointing to a box the size of a large deep-freeze. "For Win55, you gotta have at least 4k."

The Burks have agreed to extend support until December, 2004. During that same period, they have authorized Dell and Gateway to sell after-market additional memory units, bundled with Win55 for $75,000. Dell is offering a $22,000 mail-in rebate.
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