mathematician, physicist, and computer scientist, and his list of accomplishments is so long and deep that one might even call him a one-man department. Von Neumann made fundamental contributions to various fields of mathematics, including functional analysis, ergodic theory, representation theory, operator algebras, geometry, topology, and numerical analysis. He also pioneered (along with a few other individuals) operator theory within quantum theory,--the standard mathematical form of the theory—founded modern game theory, developed the first electronic digital computer, conceived the idea and theory of self-replicating machines, and made indispensable contributions to the development of the first atomic bomb.
Born in Budapest, Hungary to a wealthy, acculturated and non-observant Jewish family, von Neumann was a child prodigy, able to divide two 8-digit numbers mentally at 6 years old. Superiorly ahead of his peers, von Neumann received private mathematical instructions under the renowned analyst Gabor Szego, and Szego was so astounded by the boy's talent that he was brought to tears. By the age of 19, von Neumann had already published two major mathematical papers, and subsequently attended the University of Berlin followed by the prestigious ETH Zurich, a school at which the prominent mathematician George Poyle later said "John von Neumann was the only student I was ever afraid of."
At 53, von Neumann died of either bone or pancreatic cancer, allegedly seeded from the radiation he received from the testing of the atomic bomb. Von Neumann was the man of thinking to his last breath, but with a tragic turn near that point. Edward Teller, probably the most important physicist of the Manhattan Project and a friend of von Neumann, once reminisced: "I cannot remember Johnny now with a very touching circumstance, when he was dying of cancer. His brain was affected. I visited him frequently. And he was trying to do what he always tried to do, and he was trying to argue with me, as he used to. And it wasn't functioning anymore. And I think he suffered from this loss more than I have seen any human to suffer, in any other circumstances."
Role in the Tessera: Disappointed by Ada Lovelace's use of punching cards to store data, von Neumann implemented his electronic processing units, so the security system is less vulnerable to damage and could be more efficient. But S wanted no such improvement, and proceeded to destroy those units and the supply required to build the units. Von Neumann, having experienced the disorderly attitude of S first hand, called S "The entropy of the Horsley Tower."