The UNIVAC is a computer that was developed by Eckert and Mauchly over the course of five years, working under contract for the United States Census Bureau. The duo had been looking for a faster way to process millions of pieces of data, but their project was plagued by financial problems. As a result, they sold their company to Remington Rand, which already had a calculating machine division. Eventually, the first UNIVAC was delivered to the Census Bureau on March 31, 1951.
While the UNIVAC was not the first computer to use magnetic tape as an input medium, it was the first computer to utilize this technology. This technology had many advantages, including the speed of operation. The UNIVAC was faster than most other computers of its time, and was also able to read and write up to one million characters on a piece of magnetic tape. As a result, it became a popular choice for many businesses, including government agencies.
In 1975, Sperry released the Univac 90/30, which competed with the IBM System 3. This model was equipped with a disk operating system and a few other features, including a multi-layer platter removable disk pack. It was also capable of running OS/3. However, it was still a long way from being able to do all the tasks required by businesses. That’s why it’s so important to know about the early history of the UNIVAC.
After the first generation of the UNIVAC hit the market, the company shifted its focus to other types of computers. Its division became the Univac Division of Sperry Rand in 1955. This move helped IBM become a major commercial computing giant. But it also hampered the ability of the company’s programmers to keep up with current technology and methods. As a result, many UNIVAC programmers were forced to travel to New York or Philadelphia to take part in formal training.
The UNIVAC’s memory system allowed the computer to store up to 12 decimal digits and use a decimal system. Each memory unit contained one hundred or a thousand words. Each digit had seven binary bits, including one for parity, two for alphabetic coding, and four for the decimal representation. Its number system was called Excess 3 and was designed to avoid the use of all zeros.
In 1951, the Census Bureau accepted delivery of the first UNIVAC. The agency purchased 46 units from Remington Rand, making the company the first American manufacturer of a commercial computer system. The census bureau’s contract was also its first nongovernment one, with GE Appliance Park in Louisville, Kentucky. The UNIVAC had a multiply time of 120 microseconds, add time of 1,800 microseconds, and divide time of 3,600 microseconds.
The UNIVAC’s success was also dependent on the work of its inventors. Eckert and Mauchly had already created several computer systems for the United States military during World War II. The first one, known as ENIAC, was used to improve the accuracy of artillery fire. They were determined to commercialize the technology after the war, but were not able to do so until the University of Pennsylvania offered them tenure in exchange for patents.