John Atanasoff Jr. recalls his father's intellect in a 2012 interview.
John Vincent Atanasoff
In December 1937, in an Illinois roadhouse, John Vincent Atanasoff had his history-changing idea: he conceived the electronic digital computer. John Vincent Atanasoff was born on October 4, 1903, in New York state, but his father moved the family to Florida. From a very young age he was extremely smart. When his father bought a slide rule and didn't use it, he gave it to John, who soon worked through his father's college algebra books while still in the sixth grade. In 1921, he went to the University of Florida and in 1925 earned his bachelor's in science and electrical engineering. He then moved to Iowa State University (then Iowa State College) where in 1926 he earned his master's in mathematics and began teaching. Years later, Atanasoff decided that the calculators of the time were not good enough, so resolved out to make his own. With a $650 grant from Iowa State College and the help of electrical engineering student Clifford E. Berry, he set out to make the first electronic digital computer.