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Happy 50th Birthday, UNIVAC 1

michael posted more than 12 years ago | from the give-me-a-slide-rule-anytime dept.

Hardware 139

Frums writes: "Today is the 50th birthday of the UNIVAC I (UNIversal Automatic Computer), the first commercial computer. It was quite a beast: 16,000 lbs, 5000 vacuum tubes measuring 9 inches by 2 inches, and an amazing 1000 instructions executed per second! The first UNIVAC was sold to the US Census bureau where it revolutionized data storage from them. No longer did they have to use punch cards, UNIVAC supported storage on metal tape! The US Census bureau still maintains a plaque commemorating the computer. It reads "Bureau of the Census dedicated the world's first electronic general purpose data processing computer, UNIVAC I, on June 14, 1951. Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation" Happy Birthday, UNIVAC I!" Wired has a brief story about it.

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139 comments

Computer years (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#151725)

"Today is the 50th birthday of the UNIVAC I..."

Wow, I wonder how old that is in computer years...

No, the LEO was "the first commercial computer" (3)

evilandi (2800) | more than 12 years ago | (#151726)

#include pedantism;
#include friendly_uk_us_rivalry;

Depends how you define "commercial". Sure, the Univac 1 was the first computer built by a company and sold, but the actual computer did not perform commercial transactions- the owners, the US Census Bureau, were a government organisation, not a business.

The computer that performed the world's first regular routine office job was the LEO Lyons Electric Office [leo-computers.org.uk] in the UK. As well as the Lyons catering firm, LEOs were used by Ford.

My dad worked on a LEO.

--

Made out of depleted uranium?!? (4)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 12 years ago | (#151729)

...16,000 lbs, 5000 vacuum tubes measuring 9 inches by 2 inches...

I originally parsed that as: "16,000 lbs, 5000 vacuum tubes, and 9"x2" in size.

Holy crap! The world's heaviest palmtop!d

Re:Like most firsts, it is debatable (1)

Paulo (3416) | more than 12 years ago | (#151730)

IIRC, there was a German in Nazi Germany who had planned an electronic computer, and maybe even built it

That would have been Konrad Zuse, and he DID built several prototypes that were destroyed during allied bombings.
Another thing is whether his machine could actually be classified as a "computer", according to academic / theoretic standards. Frankly, I don't know enough about that subject to comment. Anyone?

They neglected to apologize for the Y2K scare (2)

ch-chuck (9622) | more than 12 years ago | (#151731)

Hmmmpf. I'm sure UNIVAC programmers were some of the first to lop off the century field in every date code to save on storage space. "19 to 20 - Ha, we'll let the next generation worry about that one 49 years from now, hahahaha!!"

Sure is a nice clean pic of the machine and attendants on the Wired site - kinda looks like an LCD screen in the middle of the console.

Recommended reading (2)

jms (11418) | more than 12 years ago | (#151732)

For those who are interested in the history behind the development of UNIVAC, I recommend the book:

"From ENIAC to UNIVAC, An Appraisal of the Eckert-Mauchly Computers", by Nancy Stern.
Published by Digital (DEC) Press, 1981.

if you can find it. It's been out of print for years.

The book discusses the history and design of ENIAC, EDVAC, BINAC, and UNIVAC. Great reading.

Vaccuum Tube Envy? (1)

superdoo (13097) | more than 12 years ago | (#151733)

I couldn't help but wonder if these 9" x 2" vacuum tubes were compensating for feelings of inadequacy...

Re:Sorry Guys.... (1)

The Rev (18253) | more than 12 years ago | (#151734)

What so "I've warned you that I'm a racist is now a defence for being racist!

Bah! There's more of an issue with revisionism than just cultural centrism (sp?)

We're US-centric does not defend The US invented everything when clearly it hasn't.

However continually stating things like this in these ways keeps the myths rolling out and perpetuates them.

Like the film U571 (or whatever it was). It's my understanding that it was a British surface ship and not a US submarine that captured the Enigma machine. But now Hollywood has declared that a US victory.

Your comment didn't even state an opinion, it just had a link.

For shame. You can't even defend the (almost racist) revisionism in your own words.

Re:Sorry Guys.... (2)

Quarters (18322) | more than 12 years ago | (#151735)

You get the hacks at www.theregister.co.uk to stop writing about Parliament, the BBC, British Telecom, AOL Europe, et. al. and we'll forget the whole Tea Tax thing, ok?


Re:MMMMMM Tape (1)

Skater (41976) | more than 12 years ago | (#151739)

We still have to count the citizens. That's what Census 2000 was for...

--RJ

Re:MMMMMM Tape (1)

Skater (41976) | more than 12 years ago | (#151740)

Oh, and Census counts non-citizens living in the US too. (Just to clarify.)

--RJ

Re:Sorry Guys.... (2)

EasyTarget (43516) | more than 12 years ago | (#151742)

/. is a US-Centric site.
The Reg. is a UK-Centric site.

If either of them makes revisionist statements it is wrong.

In my experience the worst revisionists are not individuals, but US marketing and governmental departments, who want everything to be A) Home-grown, and B) the biggest/bestest/fastest.

If you want to argue that the US has exploited lots of inventions more effectively than the rest of the world, you'll get no argument from me, but please understand that a lot of these 'US' innovations actually came from other countries/cultures. (Ok, I might also debate the meaning of 'exploited' a bit, since not every exploit is for the benefit of humanity).

Please expand your horizons a bit more, and learn the difference between truth, and marketing.

EZ

Re:Tube Burnt Out In Jeffreys Tube 436 (1)

AnalogBoy (51094) | more than 12 years ago | (#151744)

So that explains the power shortage in California.

In related news, in an attempt to build the worlds fastest supercomputer, Saddam hussein's SysAdmins today built a "Beowulf cluster" of mass-produced UNIVAC's, "Superior Computers" who's specifications were just released to Iraq.

The mid-east is now a huge, glowing pool of glass.

Re:Not the machine so much as the people (2)

AnalogBoy (51094) | more than 12 years ago | (#151745)

By acknowledging the Birthday of UNIVAC 1, we acknowledge the effort and acheivement of those who put their skill and persistence into it. We give a nod to our computing origins and those who brought it about in one fell swoop.

Re:an amazing 1000 instructions executed per secon (2)

AnalogBoy (51094) | more than 12 years ago | (#151746)

Blinking lights are good! As a matter of fact, the server room where i work has a glass wall where our sales staff can look at the machines, and one of IT's internal things is we make the server room look as nice and technical as we can. That means - show the masses the das blinkinlites!

Seriously, though - Sexy machines still use a good number of blinking thingies to tell you if everything is okay. Sexy machines also require grey and purple matte :)

Disclaimer: Yes, this post is off-topic. No, i don't give a smurfs tail. :)

Sorry Guys.... (1)

jocks (56885) | more than 12 years ago | (#151747)

This is another case of the victors rewriting history. I don't want to start a flame war here but the first business computer was actually British, owned by the Lyons Tea Company. Leo (as it was called) began life in the late 40's and ran for many many years. Just like most of the other articles I have been reading recently, the US has a habit of being very perocial.

If a law is passed in the US is does not make a blind bit of difference to the rest of the world. We do not care what censorship laws are passed and things like DeCSS are NOT illegal over here. Please remember that /. is popular in more countries than the US and a broader point of view should be taken.

Sorry Guys.... (1)

jocks (56885) | more than 12 years ago | (#151748)

This is another case of the victors rewriting history. I don't want to start a flame war here but the first business computer was actually British, owned by the Lyons Tea Company. Leo (as it was called) began life in the late 40's and ran for many many years. Just like most of the other articles I have been reading recently, the US has a habit of being very perocial.

If a law is passed in the US is does not make a blind bit of difference to the rest of the world. We do not care what censorship laws are passed and things like DeCSS are NOT illegal over here. Please remember that /. is popular in more countries than the US and a broader point of view should be taken.

Re:wrong (1)

jocks (56885) | more than 12 years ago | (#151749)

OK, and you base your arguments on what? At least I can back up my statements with fact, try http://www.icl.com/sjournal/v9i2/v9i2a10.html and then make your statement.

I will concede that my second paragraph was unecessary, however having just completed an install of Oracle 8i with a choice of either English or English(UK) as my languages I am a bit peeved!

Re:Two words: Hague Convention (1)

jocks (56885) | more than 12 years ago | (#151750)

Good point, and I must agree with the concerns that are expressed. However this case has already been contested in Scotland (which has a separate legal system to England) and was thrown out. I suspect that the courts did not fully understand the implications of their actions but at least /.ers would have been pleased with the outcome. As has been listed in an earlier article it appears that the whole DVD thing is being contested in Europe as a whole. The outcome from this will have many implications for the future.

wrong (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 12 years ago | (#151751)

Leo wasn't "the world's first electronic general purpose data processing computer" though, was it? Find something better to troll about, and don't append your offtopic rants to the end of your posts.

Re:an amazing 1000 instructions executed per secon (1)

idistrust (66924) | more than 12 years ago | (#151753)

I miss those flashy lights... I've been thinking of installing a bunch of them on my box at home, as well as a little device that will make "bing!" and "wrwrwrwr" noises.

Dood... you've gotta see my apartment. All flashy lights and grr's and noisy hard drives and and...and... I measure my self-worth based on the number of flashy lights and noise in my living room.

This makes no sense.

Mike.

NSA got UNIVAC #2 (2)

Noryungi (70322) | more than 12 years ago | (#151754)

One thing which I did not know (and that I learned recently) is that, at the very beginning of computing, NSA actually ordered every single computer made by the different manufacturers... and very often suggested speed improvement...

I know they did this for ENIAC, for instance. And, of course, Cray Research was always very cozy with "No Such Agency".

Insert requested paranoid conspiracy theory here... =)

Source: Body of Secrets [bodyofsecrets.com] by James Bamford.

MMMMMM Tape (1)

Ghengis (73865) | more than 12 years ago | (#151760)

We're so reliant on machines today, that it's fun to try to "remeber" what it was like to have to call the airport for plane tickets, or buy a map for directions, or actually get up, walk over and change the TV channel, or oh GOD.... DO ARITHMATIC!!! Before ENIAC and UNIVAC and such, ppl actually had to count our citizens!! WOW! (maybe i'm just showing my youth here)

not likely (1)

LocalYokel (85558) | more than 12 years ago | (#151761)

You already corrected yourself, but I may as well cover this ABC thing, since it came up.

I've been a Minnesotan since I was about 7. I know many people from Iowa, and many of my friends have gone to Iowa State. 98% of all the people who think that ABC was the first just happen to be present or former IA State students. As a sampling: neither my friend Tom's parents (Iowa U grads), nor Jason, the h4x0r in my dept. from Quad Cities (no college), or his boss Jim (went to UIUC) believe ABC is the first, yet all are from Iowa, while all three classmates of mine that I know that went to IA State think it was. I can fish out more examples if you like, but I think that should illustrate the point.

--

Re:But where's an Emulator... (2)

sh4de (93527) | more than 12 years ago | (#151765)

Here [fourmilab.ch] is a nice read about the one's complement logic used in Univac.

Programmers used to add zero (an obvious no-op on today's computers) to weed the negative zeroes out before using bitwise operations. Smart.

Something's just bugging me in that -0 + +0 = +0, though...

Wrong apology (1)

dingbat_hp (98241) | more than 12 years ago | (#151766)

They apologise for "giving SPAM a bad name,", which is hardly Unisys' fault, but forget about the only reason anyone knows Unisys' name these days - the .GIF patent [gnu.org] .

I smell PR Bunnies at work - although time was when WiReD would have called them on something like that.

NPR could have learned a lesson (1)

twitter (104583) | more than 12 years ago | (#151767)

UNIVAC supported storage on metal tape!

Wowser! I'll bet those tapes, unlike NPR archive tapes, still contain data. Unysis must have some patent on metal tapes or sumthin.

Re:Not the machine so much as the people (1)

Frums (112820) | more than 12 years ago | (#151768)

The people are actually mentioned, in a slapdash way - Ekert and Mauchly are the people primarily credited for it. They worked on Eniac as well.

Though since we are mentioning people, we all must bow before John Von Neumann who just so happened to suggest silly things like serial computation (ie, computing htings in order (believe it or not this was NOT how the early designs worked, parallel computing predates serial computing) and using binary numbers in cmputers.

Sorry I didn't include them when I submitted the story. Consider me chastised.

Re:But where's an Emulator... (2)

Frums (112820) | more than 12 years ago | (#151769)

One of the big joys of writing an emulator will be emulating +0 and -0 and their inequivalency. The joys of integers before 2's complement...

UNIVAC I experiences (4)

Animats (122034) | more than 12 years ago | (#151771)

Case Institute of Technology had a UNIVAC I running when I went to visit them before enrolling. But by the time I got into college, they'd upgraded to a Univac 1107. Al Misek, who had maintained the UNIVAC I, told me that in the years the machine had been at CASE, they'd never had a tube failure during operation. Every morning, the tubes were run on "high margin", with elevated voltages, which would burn out all tubes near failure. Those were then replaced, allowing a day of uninterrupted operation. The self-checking dual CPUs would catch any errors.

This was a decimal machine. Early computing used decimal machines for business, and binary machines for scientific work. There's still a residue of this in the decimal instructions of the x86 and of IBM mainframes.

As a kid, I came across a junked UNIVAC I, including console, at Alert Surplus Sales (920 W St. NW), in Washington, D.C. Got to poke around the insides a bit. The tape drive's reel motors were driven by standard McIntosh audio amplifiers. The console switches were all telephone lever switches. There's no display on the console other than lights.

Working at the Census Bureau in the late 1960s, I met many people who'd used the UNIVAC I machines. They also still had lots of punched-card tabulating gear, but prior to the UNIVAC I, they'd had acres of IBM tabulators. All the IBM gear was on rental; IBM didn't sell their machines. So, once the UNIVAC I was up and running, one day the IBM sales rep was called in and told that Census was cancelling most of the tab gear. It was the biggest return in IBM history, and the event that made T.J. Watson get IBM into computers.

Census still had two UNIVAC 1105 machines running; the biggest vacuum-tube machines ever sold commercially. They still had lots of UNIVAC I tape. The original UNISERVO I tape was 8 track (6 data, 1 parity, one clock), 50 BPI and steel. Not steel on plastic, the tape was a ribbon of steel. Plastic tape, and an upgrade to 200 BPI, came with the UNIVAC 1105 and the UNISERVO II. Bad spots had to be found manually, and a tape with a bad spot could be rewritten if you manually punched a hole in the tape on either side of the bad spot. I still have a reel of this stuff from my years at Case.

The UNIVAC I was operated as a tape-in, tape-out machine. Other standalone systems, each the size of a mainframe computer, did card-to-tape, tape-to-card, and tape-to-printer operations. The keyboard on the console had no display other than the console lights. Typically, UNIVAC I machines spent most of the day sorting, spinning tapes back and forth merging subsorts together. This was inefficient by modern standards, but far, far better than sorting hundreds of millions of punched cards. The sorting job alone justified the machines for Census.

The UNIVAC I was basically the first commercial computer good enough to routinely use for business data processing.

Two words: Hague Convention (1)

yerricde (125198) | more than 12 years ago | (#151773)

We do not care what censorship laws are passed and things like DeCSS are NOT illegal over here.

Not if you get sued in the US and the Hague Convention [gnu.org] forces your UK courts to enforce the US DMCA.

Unintended Consequences (2)

_underSCORE (128392) | more than 12 years ago | (#151775)

Unisis forgot the whole "Charging everyone for completely obvious patents" consequence thingie©

Oldest surviving computer (1)

tangledweb (134818) | more than 12 years ago | (#151776)

If you find early computers fascinating, visit Melbourne Australia sometime. The only surviving first generation computer is displayed at the Melbourne Museum.

CSIRAC was built in 1949, and unlike other similar machines, was not upgraded or broken up.

http://www.cs.mu.oz.au/csirac/csirac.html [mu.oz.au]

more univac history (2)

The_Rook (136658) | more than 12 years ago | (#151777)

for more history, try univac memories http://www.fourmilab.ch/documents/univac/

an interesting site on the last days of big iron before the ascendency of minicomputers.

Golden anniversary twice? (2)

fleener (140714) | more than 12 years ago | (#151778)

I wish I could have two birthdays in the same year. UNIVAC celebrated its golden anniversary last March, too. [mycareer.com.au]

From the Unisys History Newsletter [gatech.edu] : "The first UNIVAC passed its formal acceptance test on March 29-30, 1951 and was turned over to the Census Bureau, which operated it in the factory for nearly a year. A formal dedication ceremony was held on June 14, but coverage in the general press was minimal."

Atanasoff's computer was never commercial (2)

clary (141424) | more than 12 years ago | (#151779)

I should have said that in my original post. Sorry for replying to myself.

Re:...but not the first stored program computer (2)

UncleFluffy (164860) | more than 12 years ago | (#151786)

Well, the ABC *was* digital but it was very much a special purpose machine that performed a single task, which qualifies it as a calculator rather than a computer. In terms of functionality, it offered little more than Babbage's machines.

You're right, it does deserve a mention, though.

Re:...but not the first stored program computer (5)

UncleFluffy (164860) | more than 12 years ago | (#151787)

Well, to be accurate:

"The Manchester Machine (aka Manchester Mk 1)" (1949) was the *second* stored program computer, and was a general purpose machine.

"The Baby" (1947) (also from Manchester) was the *first* stored program computer, and was a general purpose machine.

"Colossus" (1943) was built at Bletchley Park, and was neither a stored program computer nor a general purpose machine.

"ENIAC" (1945) was built at the University of Pennsylvania and was (almost) a general purpose machine, but not a stored program computer.

"Ferranti Mark 1" (February 1951) was the world's *first* commercial computer.

"UNIVAC" (March 1951) was the world's *second* commercial computer.

(I'm not familiar enough with Zuse's contributions to place them accurately, but will acknowledge that they exist)

Re:an amazing 1000 instructions executed per secon (3)

Psmylie (169236) | more than 12 years ago | (#151788)

Back then you could tell a good computer by the number of flashy lights

I miss those flashy lights... I've been thinking of installing a bunch of them on my box at home, as well as a little device that will make "bing!" and "wrwrwrwr" noises.
Ah, nostalgia.

Re:Coming soon to Ask Slashdot: (2)

CaptainZapp (182233) | more than 12 years ago | (#151790)

Yeah well,

The really difficult part is to transfer the GIMP source code to punch cards, which is very environmentally unfriendly.

Next, you'll have to write a C compiler for OS1100 (or whatever it's called nowadays). Hey maybe you could port GCC and upload it to source forge ?

Next is some sort of clustering software, I suggest that you steal the microfiches of the VMS operating system from somebodies desk. They have really good clustering and you might be able to adapt some tricks.

Of course, most of it is written in MACRO32 or BLISS, which leads to another small effort:

Porting BLISS to the UNIVAC (Don't forget to upload to Source Forge, provided they're still in business then).

And presto! You're all set.

No need to thank me...

Re:Not the machine so much as the people (3)

sawb (187496) | more than 12 years ago | (#151793)

It was created by Dr. J. Presper Eckert and Dr. John W. Mauchly who worked for Remington Rand Inc. It was started in 1946 and was completely on released on this day, 50 years ago.
Here is a link to more information: UNIVAC History [about.com]

Your kid's doing what? (2)

Copperhead (187748) | more than 12 years ago | (#151794)

Does anyone else find this quote a bit surprising?

"My son, for example, plays this game called 'I'm Going In,'" Esnouf said. "He spends all Sunday morning shooting people on the computer."

For a company spokesperson, that's a rather unPC thing to say when talking about the benefits that computers have given us.

...but not the first stored program computer (2)

Ethelthefrog (192683) | more than 12 years ago | (#151796)

The Manchester Machine, built and operated during the Second World War at Manchester University, England, was the very first stored program computer to work. Can't say that it was general purpose, though.

Ethel.

Re:...but not the first stored program computer (1)

azephrahel (193559) | more than 12 years ago | (#151797)

Lets not forget the ABC [iastate.edu] , the first digital computer, built at Iowa State University by researchers from 1937-1942. I'm pretty sure it wasn't general purpose, but hey, it deserves mention at least! Go cyclones! ;)

Unisys press release (1)

Elkman (198705) | more than 12 years ago | (#151801)

The complete Unisys press release and the full text of their apology can be found here [unisys.com] .

I can't tell if their apology is tongue-in-cheek, or if they really mean it. If they really mean it, then some of the pioneers of the Internet should be writing their apologies. (I'll get on the phone and see if Vinton Cerf, Tim Berners-Lee, and Marc Andreesen are available, among others.)

Of course, the whole thing could just be a plug for their current computing technology, in which case I've been cleverly drawn into their trap.

Re:...but not the first stored program computer (1)

isorox (205688) | more than 12 years ago | (#151803)

And of course the American moderators wouldnt mod up yet another British first (along with telephone, web, steam engine, mass insudsty etc. etc.)

Re:...but not the first stored program computer (1)

isorox (205688) | more than 12 years ago | (#151804)

I remember the Baby's 50th anniversary, and goign to school in Manchester, barely 5 miles from the spot it was created, we had a little competition in the school (part of a larger competition - http://www.cs.man.ac.uk/prog98/ [man.ac.uk] )

The SSEM - "baby" - http://www.computer50.org/ [computer50.org]
First run on June 21st 1948 - 3 years before univac. Less then a year later it was available to the university for general comutation, and had a magnetic "drum".

More information at that url anyway, and at http://www.google.com/search?q=manchester+baby [google.com]

UNIVAC I at Smithsonian (3)

micromoog (206608) | more than 12 years ago | (#151805)

If you're ever in Washington D.C., stop by the Smithsonian Museum of American History and check out the basement. They have the UNIVAC I, as well as portions of the ENIAC, and probably most of the other pieces of computing history you've ever used or heard of.

It's really incredible. I spent several hours in awe, walking through there.

They've even got the earliest of early: relatives to Babbage's difference engine, etc. I highly recommend it for anyone who has any geek in them at all.

And, like most of Washington, it's free.

Coming soon to Ask Slashdot: (1)

JohnTheFisherman (225485) | more than 12 years ago | (#151807)

Hi, I stumbled upon an old Univac 1. I'd like to use it as part of a heterogeneous rendering farm for GIMP. I'm too lazy to use Google, so does anyone have any links?

First Commercial Computer? Who cares... (2)

hillct (230132) | more than 12 years ago | (#151809)

Why do we care about the first commercial computer so muuch? Why not look at hte history (which I find much more interesting), including the work of Alan Turing [slashdot.org] and all the great men and women who were involved in the Bletchley Park Enigma Codebreaking effort. It's a fascinating piece of history for all; computer enthusiasts, military history fans, and those fascinated with the world of spies and spying. And for those who don't feel like reading what they think yould be dry, historical records, there are laways novelised accounts out there too [I'll dispense with ranting about how historical record chould not be novelized because it draws an audience for a version of history, while plainly offered as fiction, some group of readers will always take as historical fact, distortinh historical truth, etc, etc...]. Having said that, there are a few novelized acconts of this era that are quite cood. Perticularly Enigma [amazon.com] , a novel by Robert harris. It was quite entertaining but I recommend reading some of the historical record of the time first, so as not to get yourself into the rut of using it as a reference for historical fact of the time [which, again, I'll rant about some other time...]

--CTH


---

Nice PR move by Unisys (5)

hillct (230132) | more than 12 years ago | (#151810)

It really ammounts to a nice PR move by Unisys. Vary slick. Remind the world that 50 years ago the company was an inovator, well What have you done for me lately?

I was a little disappointed with their spokesman Mr. Esnouf:"My son, for example, plays this game called 'I'm Going In,'" Esnouf said. "He spends all Sunday morning shooting people on the computer. We've invented this whole virtual reality. It's great, isn't it?" Is that really the best light he could put computer gaming in? I'm all for computer games and I'd say 'spending sunday morning shooting people' is a bit harsh. But all in all, Unisys pulled off a vary nice PR move without having to produce announce, or unveil a new product. Good deal for them...

--CTH


---

My Uncle... (4)

stonewolf (234392) | more than 12 years ago | (#151811)

One of my Uncles wrote code some of the code for the UNIVAC I that was used to predict the out come of the 1952 presidential election. He would tell the story every time he was around his techie kids and relations. Seems most of the folks on the project were hard core Democrats and they all believed deep down inside that the other guy (Stevenson?) was going to win.

When they got the first numbers and ran the analysis the UNIVAC said that Eisenhower was going to win by a landslide. Well, the programmers didn't believe it so they started looking for the bugs in their code. They looked really hard and fixed a couple of bugs and they got new data and they reran the analysis and it said Eisenhower by a landslide. So they went looking for more bugs...

Finally they had to report their results and they did with great embarrassment because nobody, including the press, believed the Eisenhower could possibly win.

Eisenhower won in a landslide.

My Uncle would always end the story with a moral about having to trust the results of experiments even when they disagreed with your personal belief. He's a great guy, I wish I knew him better.

StoneWolf

Re:Not the machine so much as the people (2)

bkr1_2k (237627) | more than 12 years ago | (#151812)

I don't necessarily agree with the demand of the post but here is a link which may shed some light. http://www.cc.gatech.edu/gvu/people/randy.carpente r/folklore/v5n1.html And thankyou J. Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchly for making our lives better...I think ;)

Re:Not the machine so much as the people (1)

tanpiover2 (249666) | more than 12 years ago | (#151816)

Truly, Brahmagupta is the father of modern computing. I don't see him mentioned at all.

Windows 51 (1)

rirugrat (255768) | more than 12 years ago | (#151818)

Not many people know this but shortly after releasing Windows 51 for the UNIVAC, Bill Gates replied, "Nobody will ever need more than 640 bytes of RAM"!

Chris

Re:...but not the first stored program computer (1)

siliconowl (258491) | more than 12 years ago | (#151819)

The Manchester Machine, built and operated during the Second World War at Manchester University, England, was the very first stored program computer to work. Can't say that it was general purpose, though.
I suspect you are refering to the Manchester Baby which was post war. It was the first stored program digital computer and was general purpose. It predates the other competetor for the title (University of Cambridge) by about a year. It was sold commercially by Ferranti.

Like most firsts, it is debatable (1)

typical geek (261980) | more than 12 years ago | (#151820)

IIRC, there was a German in Nazi Germany who had planned an electronic computer, and maybe even built it. There was Aksoff (sp) at the University of Iowa. But like most good geek debates, it's not complete until we get some whinging from some dowdy over the hill Kingdom trying to redeem their self respect by claiming inventions invented several generations ago.

check that acronym (1)

nanojath (265940) | more than 12 years ago | (#151822)

Not to be petty, but...

"UNIVAC I (UNIversal Automatic Computer)..."

Shouldn't that be UNIVersal Automatic Computer?

Otherwise, you know, it would be UNIAC

Re:Computer years (1)

doppleganger871 (303020) | more than 12 years ago | (#151824)

About 1500 years. We don't use horse-drawn buggies anymore... those were around a LONG Time ago... (Just a guess on the 1500).

Re:can you imagine... (1)

Hormonal (304038) | more than 12 years ago | (#151828)

Well, I closed my eyes, but I just kept seeing my tired old 386/16 from so long ago.

Hmm...

Re:Case Mod? (1)

Bobo the Space Chimp (304349) | more than 12 years ago | (#151830)

I still remember when it guest starred in that episode of Superfriends as the computer that controlled all aspects of daily life, allowing everybody to be waited on hand and foot by robots, ushuring in a new age of peace and productivity.

Then the Superfriends destroyed it because it was better in their minds for us to continue to "in labor shall you toil the soil," so to speak. The saviour, the Legion of Doom, being several years in the future.

Ports (1)

thejake316 (308289) | more than 12 years ago | (#151831)

In other news, Unisys annouced it was working on a port of Linux 2.4 to UNIVAC in an effort to boost sales which have been lagging badly since 1955. In typical fashion, a message on comp.unix.bsd.netbsd.misc pointed out that http://netbsd.org/Ports/univac1/ has been available since 1994.

Re:...but not the first stored program computer (1)

tb3 (313150) | more than 12 years ago | (#151832)

The Manchester Machine, aka 'The Bomb', right?
(And no 'all your bases' cracks, please.)

"What are we going to do tonight, Bill?"

Anyone notice... (1)

racermd (314140) | more than 12 years ago | (#151835)

That this thing was water-cooled and had it's own dedicated A/C unit? I find it rather amazing that there's roots to OC techniques that early in computer development. Of course, it needed to be cool enough for people to walk *into* the unit.

an amazing 1000 instructions executed per second (1)

-douggy (316782) | more than 12 years ago | (#151836)

WOW
Seems that mores law has been pretty much holding (give or take a factor of 10) since tube days. Back then you could tell a good computer by the number of flashy lights. Now intel tell us it is better to be able to run flash.

Not the machine so much as the people (5)

Penfield Zoat (325344) | more than 12 years ago | (#151838)

We in the tech business sometimes have a habit of elevating technology to a sort of self-causing status. For example, we are now celebrating the birthday of UNIVAC, a non-living being which has done nothing of its own accord. I have to ask: where are the humans?

Neither the wired article nor Slashdot so much as mention those who made this, and all subsequent computers a reality. Sure Linus Torveldes buys a taco and it's written up in every Linux rag, but try to give some credit to the people who gave him his opprertunity, and you come up empty! (Never mind that these guys were doing original, really original work, and Linus was just copying).

I demand that Slashdot's editors actually bother to find out who created this machine and publish it. It think that as a computer user, you owe them that much of a memory. Not to mention it might put a stop to all this senseless gadget-worship.

First? (1)

TikkaMassala (411282) | more than 12 years ago | (#151839)

I know this is said every time someone mentions one of the old computers, but:

Bureau of the Census dedicated the world's first electronic general purpose data processing computer, UNIVAC I, on June 14, 1951. Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation

What about all the other computers that were made before then? True, Turing's computer wasn't technically 'general purpose' but what about the Baby [computer50.org] ? That first worked nearly 3 years before. But then, this isn't the first time a certain large-country-between-the-Pacific-and-the-Atlantic claimed inventing something first when it didn't (lightbulb, plane, car etc. etc.)

Re:...but not the first stored program computer (1)

TikkaMassala (411282) | more than 12 years ago | (#151840)

'Baby' as it was known was indeed general purpose. It could load a program from an operator and run it from memory (don't get more general purpose than that).

It was then made into the first commercially-available general-purpose computer ever in February 1951, called Ferranti Mk. 1 [computer50.org]

So the UNIVAC isn't the first computer in any aspect at all. Figures.

Re:Like most firsts, it is debatable (1)

TikkaMassala (411282) | more than 12 years ago | (#151841)

But the thing with this debate is, there is actual PROOF that other computers existed before this one. It's not just a friend-of-a-friend-said-they-heard-something-on-th e-radio type deal.

UNIVAC was number 2, and will remain that way forever.

Re:...but not the first stored program computer (1)

TikkaMassala (411282) | more than 12 years ago | (#151842)

We know exactly what it looks like - we're subjected to it every day on /. by some hick with a dsl line and an unnatural penchant for penguins... ;)

Re:...but not the first stored program computer (1)

TikkaMassala (411282) | more than 12 years ago | (#151843)

The 'Bombe' was Turing's machine. The Manchester one (as mentioned below) was called 'Baby'. I wish they had names like that for computers these days (better than bleedin' numbers). The 'IBM Goat' range, or 'Sun Monkey' servers.

Re:Sorry Guys.... (1)

TikkaMassala (411282) | more than 12 years ago | (#151844)

Such as the US space programme, which was actually started with German ex-nazi scientists, and V2 rockets, which where stolen from other Allies. It never ends.

Re:Sorry Guys.... (1)

TikkaMassala (411282) | more than 12 years ago | (#151845)

Given its roots, I think that /. does a pretty good job of covering a wide variety of world topics.

It does cover them. With bias and untruths.

If we were to believe everything on /., then Linux would be a good desktop operating system, and Windows would be the most unpopular OS in the world.

Re:First Commercial Computer? Who cares... (1)

TikkaMassala (411282) | more than 12 years ago | (#151846)

Novelised history? In America? Never!

Braveheart The Patriot Saving Private Ryan Titanic Pearl Harbor The list goes on...

:)

Re:Oldest surviving computer (2)

TikkaMassala (411282) | more than 12 years ago | (#151847)

If you want old-skool computers, go to the Science Museum [sciencemuseum.org.uk] in london. They have a recreation of the first computer in the world (powered by a handle). Good work, Mr. Babbage.

Re: Your Uncle... (1)

Pet_Targ (449857) | more than 12 years ago | (#151849)

Sounds like he was a wise and formidable man. Too bad there aren't many more like him.

* ESPECIALLY ON /. !! *

Happy b-day, and THANK YOU (1)

hyehye (451759) | more than 12 years ago | (#151852)

I don't know much about UNIVAC, but it's always nice to see where we've come from - so we can guage how far we've actually come, and where we might be going. It's a bit like watching Mir splash down, it shows us milestones and crucial events

Re:Like most firsts, it is debatable (1)

Phyle (456650) | more than 12 years ago | (#151854)

When Von Neumann's notes were declassified it was discovered that, when he got stuck, he asked Alan Turing how he'd done it. Frankly, there are a handful of claimed first-general-purpose computers. The one that usually gets the credit has the worst claim of them all.

Re:...but not the first stored program computer (2)

Phyle (456650) | more than 12 years ago | (#151855)

LOL I remember when the first European version of Encarta was released, it had to be withdrawn after reviewers objected to the number of inventions erroneously attributed to Americans.

Re:an amazing 1000 instructions executed per secon (1)

return 42 (459012) | more than 12 years ago | (#151858)

...and "wrwrwrwr" noises.

No, no...that's rw-rw-rw-. You know, the number of the 733ts.

But where's an Emulator... (2)

A Commentor (459578) | more than 12 years ago | (#151860)

The original was only $1 Million... Seeing how there no practical way for one of us to get one, who is writing an emulator for it...

At only 1000 instructions per second, I'm sure just about any computer could handle it...

Do you need buy.com Coupons [garlanger.com]

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