biography
the prototype
the process
pride in Bulgaria
100 anniversary


John V. Atanasoff receives an honorary medal for Achievement in Science from Acad. Blaghovest Sendov, 1983, Iowa
Modern Bulgarians need, among many other things, a well-grounded national confidence. The source of self-confidence is our history and the talent of people with Bulgarian blood in their veins. In the past century, one of the highest peaks in that respect was John Atanasoff, the inventor of the first electronic computer in the world. The significance of each and every action is determined by its consequences. Atanasoff's invention started the information revolution, which has changed the world. What did John Atanasoff do in fact? The idea of a computer with program operation had been known a hundred years before he began constructing his computer. That idea belonged to the English mathematician Charles Babbage but was not realized because of the technical difficulties of building it with mechanical components. Before John Atanasoff, a great number of mechanical calculating machines were built. However the big breakthrough was made by John Atanasoff who abandoned mechanics and designed electronic circuits for calculating by use of a binary system of numbers. Nowadays, we see that quite natural and simple but the genius prevailed over tradition. The wheel is also simple and natural but many civilizations developed to perfection without inventing it.

The principles of John Atanasoff's computer, though seemingly outdated today, are the basis of the thousands of millions of computers, without which modern society cannot exist. Every Bulgarian knows and prides in the holy brothers, St. Cyrille and St. Methodius, who created the alphabet of all Slavonic peoples. Similarly, John Atanasoff, a man of Bulgarian extraction, opened the road to the world information society.

Blaghovest Sendov
20 April 2001




Devoting this version of my memoirs to the people of my fatherland, I feel great excitement. I need to tell my Bulgarian readers too many things but words do not come easily.

My father was born on January 6, 1876, at the time of the preparation of our people for an uprising against the Turks. Before the outbreak of the uprising, the Turkish governors forced the people of the village of Boyadjik (present Boyadjik, Yambol Region) to leave their houses and then they burnt them. As my grandfather ran with his son in his hands, followed by my grandmother, a group of Turkish soldiers shot him in the chest. The bullet, which killed him, left a scar on the forehead of my father for the rest of his life.

My grandmother married twice more after that. My father was 13 years old when he arrived in the United States and at 15 he became an orphan. After this incredible start in his life, he finished the Colgate University and married my mother, an American whose grandfather fought in the Civil War between the North and the South. My father wanted to take his wife and children to Bulgaria but he did not succeed.

I have always felt that the heritage of the two peoples in my blood has kept my spirit. And now, as I am growing old, I am even happier for my good fortune. My father's people have met me warmly and have given me a high prize the Cyrille and Methodius Order (First Class). I was elected a foreign member of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and I am in touch with many friends in Bulgaria.

John Atanasoff


   Top 100