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The MANIAC’s arithmetic unit nearing completion in 1952.

The MANIAC I (Mathematical Analyzer Numerical Integrator and Automatic Computer Model I)[1][2] was an early computer built under the direction of Nicholas Metropolis at the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory. It was based on the von Neumann architecture of the IAS, developed by John von Neumann. As with almost all computers of its era, it was a one-of-a-kind machine that could not exchange programs with other computers (even the several other machines based on the IAS). Metropolis chose the name MANIAC in the hope of stopping the rash of silly acronyms for machine names,[3] although von Neumann may have suggested the name to him.

The MANIAC weighed about 1,000 pounds (0.50 short tons; 0.45 t).[4][5]

The first task assigned to the Los Alamos Maniac was to perform more precise and extensive calculations of the thermonuclear process.[6] In 1953, the MANIAC obtained the first equation of state calculated by modified Monte Carlo integration over configuration space.[7]

In 1956, MANIAC I became the first computer to defeat a human being in a chess-like game. The chess variant, called Los Alamos chess, was developed for a 6x6 chessboard (no bishops) due to the limited amount of memory and computing power of the machine.[8]

The MANIAC ran successfully in March 1952[9][10][11] and was shut down on July 15, 1958.[12] However, it was [13] [14] transferred to the University of New Mexico in bad condition, and was restored to full operation by Dale Sparks, PhD. It was featured in at least two UNM Maniac programming dissertations from 1963.[15] It remained in operation until it was retired in 1965. It was succeeded by MANIAC II in 1957.

A third version MANIAC III was built at the Institute for Computer Research at the University of Chicago in 1964.

Notable MANIAC programmers[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Pang, Tao (1997). An Introduction to Computational Physics. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-48143-0. OCLC 318210008.
  2. ^ Wennrich, Peter (1984). Anglo-American and German Abbreviations in Data Processing. De Gruyter. p. 362. ISBN 9783598205248. MANIAC Mathematical Analyzer, Numerical Integrator and Computer
    MANIAC Mechanical and Numerical Integrator and Calculator
    MANIAC Mechanical and Numerical Integrator and Computer
  3. ^ Metropolis 1980
  4. ^ "Daybreak of the Digital Age". Princeton Alumni Weekly. Published in the April 4, 2012 Issue. 2016-01-21. Retrieved 2018-05-25. MANIAC was a single 6-foot-high, 8-foot-long unit weighing 1,000 pounds.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  5. ^ "Computing and the Manhattan Project". Atomic Heritage Foundation. July 18, 2014. It’s a MANIAC. MANIAC was substantively smaller than ENIAC: only six feet high, eight feet wide, and weighing in at half a ton.
    1 short ton (2,000 lb)
  6. ^ Declassified AEC report RR00523
  7. ^ Equation of State Calculations by Fast Computing Machines. Journal of Chemical Physics 1953
  8. ^ Pritchard (2007), p. 112
  9. ^ See Computing & Computers: Weapons Simulation Leads to the Computer Era, p. 135
  10. ^ Berry, Kenneth J.; Johnston, Janis E.; Mielke, Paul W. Jr. (2014-04-11). A Chronicle of Permutation Statistical Methods: 1920–2000, and Beyond. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 109. ISBN 9783319027449.
  11. ^ Computing at LASL in the 1940s and 1950s. Department of Energy. 1978. p. 16.
  12. ^ Turing's Cathedral, by George Dyson, 2012, p. 315
  13. ^ Computing at LASL in the 1940s and 1950s. Department of Energy. 1978. p. 21.
  14. ^ "Oral-History:Marjorie "Marge" Devaney". Engineering and Technology History Wiki. Retrieved 2 July 2019.
  15. ^ "Electrical and Computer Engineering ETDs". The University of New Mexico Digital Repository. UNM. Retrieved 2 July 2019.
  16. ^ Kelly, Kevin (17 February 2012). "Q&A: Hacker Historian George Dyson Sits Down With Wired's Kevin Kelly". WIRED. Vol. 20, no. 3. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
  17. ^ Golomb, Solomon (1994). Polyominoes (second ed.). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. p. 15. ISBN 0-691-02444-8.
  18. ^ "Oral-History:Marjorie "Marge" Devaney". Engineering and Technology History Wiki. Retrieved 2 July 2019.
  19. ^ Pritchard (1994), p. 175

Further reading[edit]

  • Dyson, George (2012), Turing's Cathedral, Vintage Books, ISBN 978-1-4000-7599-7 Chapter 5, "MANIAC", pp. 64-87.

External links[edit]