The following is an excerpt of a rough draft of the soon-to-be-published book, A Brief History of Computing: The GNU Story.
Following the completion of Vannevar Bush’s differential analyzer, the race to build the first digital, all-purpose computer heated-up. Three men approached the finish line simultaneously. Two Americans, John Atasanoff and George Stibitz, were building on the foundation of Babbage, Bush, and others. Atasanoff produced a working prototype of his machine in 1939, with Stibitz completing his shortly after — in 1940. But German engineer Konrad Zuse would beat them both to the tape.