Former ISU English professor to discuss new biography


Former ISU faculty member Jane Smiley will be discussing her new book, “The Man Who Invented the Computer” at 8 p.m. Thursday in the Sun Room of the Memorial Union. The book is a biography of John Atanasoff, another former ISU faculty member who is credited as the man who invented the first modern digital computer.

Atanasoff was an American physicist who evidenced aptitude for math at a very young age. After flying through the University of Florida in two years, he earned his master’s degree at Iowa State and his doctorate in theoretical physics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

After creating the Anatansoff-Berry Computer, he struggled with a legal dispute with regards to the patent for the first digital computer after finally winning the legal — and de facto — title of “the man who invented the computer.”

Smiley is a Pulitzer-Prize winning author who has written a number of essays and both fiction and non-fiction books including the book “Moo,” which is believed to be loosely based on her time at Iowa State.

She taught as a distinguished professor of English from 1981 to 1996 after completing her MFA and Ph.D. at the University of Iowa and a Fulbright in Iceland. Aside from her Pulitzer, Smiley has received several other prestigious awards like induction into the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the PEN USA Lifetime Achievement Award for Literature.