As a filmmaker, I have worked exclusively in the documentary genre, always successful in bringing my films to a wide and diverse theatrical audience. I believe in the art of documentary filmmaking utilizing the aesthetic language of cinema to empower the film’s research and content in reaching an audience.
What excited me about Atanasoff, Father of the Computer is that the computer, the greatest invention of the 20th century, was invented by a man unknown to the public. In an era where everything is documented, reported, scrutinized and where access to information is only a click away, no one knows who actually invented the computer. To me this seems improbable, even impossible, yet it is true. Everywhere I have asked that question: computer labs, universities, bars, and libraries—even film festivals. No one answers correctly. Somehow the true answer has been lost in history.
I realize that this story has urgent modern day significance. Even though this is a historical documentary with a wealth of archival and historical information, there is a message in this film that resonates loudly in our new global universe. How is it that the father of the electronic digital computer, the computer we all use today, remains unknown to the entire world and forgotten by history? Atanasoff did not work for a multinational corporation; rather he invented in the basement of a university, working only with his students. Their goal: to simply build a calculating machine to help facilitate his students with their complex physics problems. The result was the first electronic computer invented in the 1930’s, a true “Eureka” moment.
Atanasoff, Father of the Computer is about the little guy following his dreams, his passions and his ability to invent something for all the right reasons, even while fighting against all the money in the world. It is a parable about how history is increasingly controlled by corporate interests to protect their dominance.