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March 31, 1951 - The first UNIVAC I is delivered

Posted March 31, 2008 6:00 AM by julie
Pathfinder Tags: March 31 UNIVAC UNIVAC I

On this day in engineering history the first UNIVAC I was delivered to United States Census Bureau, in 1951.

The UNIVAC I (UNIVersal Automatic Computer I) was the first commercial computer made in the United States. It was designed principally by J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly, the inventors of the ENIAC. Jean Bartik, one of the original ENIAC programmers, also played an integral role in the design team.

The UNIVAC I was the first American computer designed at the outset for business and administrative use. It competed directly against punch-card machines, primarily manufactured by IBM. The first contracts were with government institutions such as the Census Bureau, the US Air Force, and the US Army Map Service. The fifth machine (built for the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission) was used by CBS to predict the result of the 1952 presidential election. With a sample of just 1% of the voting population, it correctly predicted that Eisenhower would win.

Originally priced at US $159,000, the UNIVAC I rose in price until they were between $1,250,000 and $1,500,000. A total of 46 systems were eventually built and delivered. A few UNIVAC I systems stayed in service long after they became obsolete by advancing technology. The Census Bureau used its two systems until 1963 and two systems in Buffalo, New York were used until 1968. The insurance company Life and Casualty of Tennessee used its system until 1970, totaling over thirteen years of service.

UNIVAC Specifications:

It used 5,200 vacuum tubes.

Weight: 29,000 pounds (13 metric tons)

Consumed 125 kW

Performance: 1,905 operations per second running on a 2.25 MHz clock

The machine was 25 feet by 50 feet in length

It had an internal storage capacity of 1,000 words or 12,000 characters.

It utilized a Mercury delay line, magnetic tape, and typewriter output.

Processing speed: 0.525 milliseconds for arithmetic functions, 2.15 milliseconds for multiplication and 3.9 Milliseconds for division.

http://www.thocp.net/hardware/univac.htm

http://wwwcsif.cs.ucdavis.edu/~csclub/museum/items/univac.html

http://www.univac.org/#

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#1

Re: March 31, 1951 - The first UNIVAC I is delivered

03/31/2008 8:30 AM

Nice

I bet it was still quicker to boot up than Vista

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#2
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Re: March 31, 1951 - The first UNIVAC I is delivered

04/01/2008 7:09 AM

Probably more stable too! ;)

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#3

Re: March 31, 1951 - The first UNIVAC I is delivered

04/17/2008 7:45 PM

The fact remains that the earliest computers including digital ones were all made for the military through military funding for applications such as bomb analysis, ballistics and RADAR.

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#4

Re: March 31, 1951 - The first UNIVAC I is delivered

11/12/2010 11:58 AM

Hi, my father was Crockett C. Boston and was the chief engineer of the "IT" dept. at Life and Casualty. We moved to Phila. when I was six (1955) so he could attend training at I think something sponsered by Remmington Rand. We stayed a year, and returned to Nashville where he was the chief engineer in the "electronics" dept! He was probably chosen for this job bc he was an Air Traffic Controller in the Army. I have some photos of the system and I clearly remember him having to work shifts to baby sit the equipment. I got to go inside and see the extensive wiring. I remember him teaching me to change the reels. Temperature was always a great concern! He loved his job and I think it lasted until near his retirement. Paul Lawson came on board and they worked together for many years. Paul died and I think his wife Joanie donated the console to one of the Smithsonian Museums. Janet B. Shadoin, Langston, Al.

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