Biography of John von Neumann – Computer Science Essay
John von Neumann, born János von Neumann then later called Johnny in the United States. His father was named Max Neumann, a top banker and John was brought up living in
Budapest where as a child he learned languages from the German and French tutors that were employed. Although the family was Jewish, his father did not observe the strict practice of Judaism and the household seemed to mix Jewish and Christian traditions
In 1911 John entered school at the Lutheran Gymnasium. The school had a sturdy academic tradition. His math teacher quickly recognized von Neumann’s intellect and he was given a scholarship.
After World War I ended, a Communist government controlled Hungary for five months in 1919. The Neumann family fled to Austria because the wealthy came under fire. However, after one month, they returned to face their problems in Budapest. When the communist government failed, the fact that it had been largely made up of Jews meant that Jewish people were blamed. The fact that the Neumann family opposed the communist government did not keep them from being blamed as well.
Von Neumann studied chemistry at the University of Berlin until 1923 when he went to Zurich. He attained outstanding results in the mathematics exams at the University of Budapest despite not attending any classes. In 1926, von Neumann received his diploma in chemical engineering from the Technische Hochschule in Zürich. Neumann married his fiancée Marietta Kovesi before setting out for the United States in 1930. During the initial years that he was in the United States, von Neumann continued to go back to Europe during the summers. Until 1933 he still held academic positions in Germany but resigned these when the Nazis came to power.
Von Neumann was one of the pioneers of computer science making important contributions to the development of logical design. He advanced the theory of cellular automata, supported the adoption of the bit as a measurement of computer memory, and solved problems in acquiring reliable answers from unreliable computer components.
In 1955 President Eisenhower appointed him to the Atomic Energy Commission, and in 1956 he received the Enrico Fermi Award, knowing that he was terminally ill with cancer.
John von Neumann played a key role in helping advance computers into what we know them as today, without his genius, computers would not play such an important role in our daily lives.