This is the result of reading a review of George Dyson's http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Dyson_(science_historian) , son of Freeman Dyson http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freeman_Dyson , new book in the U.K. "Guardian" http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2012/feb/26/first-computers-john-von-neumann?INTCMP=SRCH (Bob has not read the book itself).
This whole thing has been hashed and rehashed for years, and Bob was surprised at what the review said Dyson said re John von Neumann http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_von_Neumann .
von Neumann was certainly a key player - but not the key player: he is generally given too much credit for what in effect was group think - he published without giving proper credit to the group.
There was much work done prior to and during WWII that few knew about, primarily in the U.K. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Turing) but also in the U.S. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claude_Shannon) and Germany (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Konrad_Zuse).
Some of those few did non-classified work after WWII that was as significant, perhaps more so, as what von Neumann published. Perhaps first among these were http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Mauchly , http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J.PresperEckert , http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederic_Calland_Williams , and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Kilburn .
One "key figure" with whom Bob has chatted on several occasions was http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maurice_Wilkes - you might like to read his book "Memoirs of a Computer Pioneer". Another such was Perry Crawford - a good friend who introduced Bob to gin martinis - a key figure on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whirlwind_(computer) . Perry was a great admirer of Shannon whom he knew at MIT prior to WWII (Bob's good friend Frank Corr was not a Shannon fan - most likely because of Shannon's eccentricities).
Guess can't leave this without mentioning http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Vincent_Atanasoff and the famous patent case http://inventors.about.com/library/inventors/blatanasoff_berry.htm .
NB - von Neumann was a great mathematician - and interesting from another standpoint - he was a Hungarian Jew who converted to Rome on his deathbed in Washington, D.C. (Bob hearsay)
The birth of today's computing can be attributed largely to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PARC_(company) :
Founded in 1970 as a division of Xerox Corporation, PARC has been responsible for such well known and important developments as laser printing, Ethernet, the modern personal computer, graphical user interface (GUI), object-oriented programming, ubiquitous computing, amorphous silicon (a-Si) applications, and advancing very-large-scale-integration (VLSI) for semiconductors.