After successfully demonstrating a proof-of-concept prototype in 1939, Atanasoff received funds to build the full-scale machine. Built at Iowa State College (now University), the ABC was designed and built by Professor John Vincent Atanasoff and graduate student Cliff Berry between 1939 and 1942. The ABC was at the center of a patent dispute relating to the invention of the computer, which was resolved in 1973 when it was shown that ENIAC co-designer John Mauchly had come to examine the ABC shortly after it became functional.
The legal result was a landmark: Atanasoff was declared the originator of several basic computer ideas, but the computer as a concept was declared un-patentable and thus was freely open to all. This result has been referred to as the "dis-invention of the computer." A full-scale reconstruction of the ABC was completed in 1997 and proved that the ABC machine functioned as Atanasoff had claimed.