X-Received: 14 Feb 2001 16:32:32 GMT
From: Business 2.0 Daily Insight <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: A Noncommercial February 14 Holiday
Date: Wed, 14 Feb 2001 11:32:50 -0500 (EST)
February 14, 2001
A Noncommercial February 14 Holiday
When you go home tonight, you will hopefully celebrate (not lament) Valentine's Day. But right now, you are still at work, reading on the Web and maybe thinking about the happy marriage of business and technology. In this context, let me suggest another holiday to celebrate: Today is ENIAC's birthday. On this day 55 years ago J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly demonstrated the first electronic, digital computer.
It may be too late now to schedule an office party for ENIAC's birthday or to order a "Happy Birthday ENIAC" sheet cake, but that is OK. When a holiday is bare of trivial trappings, people can focus on what the day is actually about. ENIAC Day is about the enduring value of true ingenuity, and that is what makes it so important this year. Enduring value was notably absent from the spotlight during the short-term boom years just past. Put it back in the spotlight today.
It would have been easy for cynics to dismiss ENIAC as a huge waste. Not only did it cost $500,000 and 200,000 man-hours to build, but it also missed its window. When the military commissioned it in 1943, it was supposed to help the war effort by aiming guns better, yet it was not completed until after the war ended.
But because ENIAC was a revolutionary machine capable of doing innumerable tasks of immense value, it lived on for another 10 years and remains one of the most significant catalysts of our technological--and business--development.
So before you go home and celebrate a relationship that I hope lasts a long time, think about your business. Despite the pressure to hit the next window, strive to build something ingenious enough to outlast the current craze.
David Orenstein is a senior writer for Business 2.0.
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