Mary Mauchly drowns

The Dunkirk Evening Observer (Dunkirk, New York) of 9 September 1946 reported on the drowning of John Mauchly's wife in August of that year.

Inventor's wife is drowned taking midnight swim.

Wildwood, New Jersey, 9 September 1946

The drowning of the wife of a co-inventor of the world's most complex calculating machine as she swam nude in the surf during a midnight bathing party with he husband today was termed accidental by Cape May county officials.

The dead woman was Mrs Mary Mauchly, 39, mother of two children. Her husband, Dr John Mauchly, 39, of Philadelphia, is a University of Pennsylvania faculty member and co-inventor of the "ENIAC," the electronic numerical integrator and computer that utilises 18,000 vacuum tubes to solve intricate mathematical problems almost instantly.

Mauchly was questioned for nine hours yesterday during a 17-hour investigation into the drowning of his wife as they bathed along a desolate stretch of beach near Wildwood crest.

County Prosecutor Harry Tenenbaum said the couple came to Wildwood Saturday night, and that they went to the beach several hours later. Shortly before midnight, Mrs Mauchly entered the sea.

Her husband, who was also naked, said he heard her call for help 15 minutes later, and that she appeared to be 20 yards from shore. He could not find her in the darkness, he said.

He ran to a lighted house one block away to summon help. Flood lights were erected, but the body was not found until it was washed ashore two hours later.

Last Updated March 2021