John Vincent Atanasoff
Al Pipkin and the Man Who Invented the Computer
Al Pipkin and John Vincent Atanasoff shaking hands during a 1989 visit at Atanasoff's home in Monrovia, Maryland. Photo taken when All and his wife, Lois, were visiting Atanasoff and his wife, Alice, after Atanasoff's induction into the Coors American Ingenuity Award Hall of Fame in Washington, D. C. Atanasoff, on the right, is wearing his Hall of Fame medallion.
John Vincent Atanasoff, the man who invented the computer, and Al Pipkin, vice president of Finance (retired) at Coors Brewing Company, were graduates of the same school, (Mulberry High School - Mulberry, Florida), although many years apart. Dr. Atanasoff, MHS Class of 1921, and Al Pipkin, MHS Class of 1949. Both are in the Mulberry High School Hall of Fame.
Al Pipkin was the founding father of the Coors American Ingenuity Award and Hall of Fame, an award tied directly to Al's Mulberry roots. He says the objective was to help get more national recognition for Mulberry's John Vincent Atanasoff and his invention of the first electronic digital computer.
Even though a judge had ruled, following a lengthy trial, that Atanasoff was the inventor of the electronic digital computer, it was not well known. Some history books had already been printed giving credit to someone else, and many people did not readily accept the decision.
Al says Coors agreed with his ideas and financed the program. They felt it was in tune with the role that innovation had played in the history of the company. Al says Atanasoff was a big hit when he visited the brewery and gave a speck to the employees.
In addition to giving an award trophy to Atanasoff, Coors established a $10,000 scholarship in Atanasoff's name at Iowa State University.
John Vincent Atanasoff died in 1995 at age 92 at his home in Maryland. Al Pipkin and his wife, Lois, live in Mount Dora, Florida. Two books tell the Atanasoff story: The Man Who Invented the Computer, The Biography of John Atanasoff, Digital Pioneer by Jane Smiley and Atanasoff Forgotten Father of the Computer by Clark R. Mollenhoff.