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The UNIVAC generation | ENIAC - The first general-purpose electronic computer
This web site is devoted to ENIAC — “Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer”. ENIAC was the first general-purpose electronic computer. It was made at the University of Pennsylvania’s Moore School of Electrical Engineering during World War II under the code name "Project PX". Physics professor John W. Mauchly and electrical engineer J. Presper Eckert led the team. Both were civilian employees whose computer work was funded by the United States Army Ballistics Research Laboratory. This is a collection of the best online information about the ENIAC and the people that created it. (The information is divided into these categories - Select a link or scroll down to read the blog.)

History and technology

People and stories

Was it the first computer?

UNIVAC and beyond

The ENIAC patent trial

Myths about ENIAC

ENIACtion on Facebook

ENIAC/UNIVAC tourism

Where to learn more


The UNIVAC generation

ENIAC was a good and useful computer for its time. But it wasn’t long before other computers eclipsed it. Mauchly and Eckert started planning a better computer, click EDVAC (Electronic Discrete Variable Automatic Computer) before ENIAC was finished. They left the Moore School (and EDVAC) in 1946 and formed the Electronic Control Company, prescription doing business as Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation — this was the world’s first commercial computer company.

EMCC’s first completed computer was BINAC (Binary Automatic Computer) for the Northrop aviation company followed by UNIVAC (Universal Automatic Computer) for the U.S. Census Bureau. Several UNIVAC models followed. The company also innovated the modern sense of “programming” a computer.

The brand continued as EMCC was acquired by Remington Rand and became its UNIVAC division in 1950. Remington Rand also brought in Engineering Research Associates in 1952, merging it with the UNIVAC group. Remington Rand itself merged with Sperry in 1955, become Sperry Rand.

More recently, the company became Sperry Corp. in 1978 and merged with Burroughs Corp. in 1986. The merged company took the name Unisys, which it uses today.

Articles

BINAC: A Case Study in Technology (IEEE Annals of the History of Computing) – Solid article about EMCC’s first completed computer

Coming to Grips With UNIVAC (IEEE Annals of the History of Computing) – What made the UNIVAC successful in the Air Force

Programming on the UNIVAC I: A Woman’s Account (IEEE Annals of the History of Computing) – Comparisons vs. using ENIAC and what it was like for women working in the new computer field

UNIVAC Short Code (IEEE Annals of the History of Computing) – Article about UNIVAC’s programming language

Books

From ENIAC to UNIVAC: An Appraisal of the Eckert-Mauchly Computers (Nancy Stern) – “The bible” of early UNIVAC history

Unisys Computers: An Introductory History (George Gray, Ronald Smith) – An excellent overview of all of the UNIVAC computers from the 1950s-1980s

Links

Unisys History Newsletter (George Gray) – Tales from insiders about the UNIVAC and the business of selling them

UNIVAC History Conference (Charles Babbage Institute) – A discussion panel with a large number of UNIVAC role players

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