CODEX Entry 9300: UNIVAC 1616


With the death of the fledgling computer company’s chairman and chief financial backer Henry L. Straus in a plane crash on October 25, 1949, EMCC was sold to typewriter maker Remington Rand on February 15, 1950. Eckert and Mauchly now reported to Leslie Groves, the retired army general who had previously managed building the Pentagon and the Manhattan Project, where he was exposed to ENIAC.

The most famous UNIVAC product was the UNIVAC I mainframe computer of 1951, only the second commercial computer in the US. The main memory consisted of tanks of liquid mercury implementing delay line memory, arranged in 1000 words of 12 alphanumeric characters each. The first machine was delivered on 31 March 1951 and became famous for predicting the outcome of the U.S. presidential election the following year. The computer predicted an Eisenhower landslide over Adlai Stevenson, whereas the final Gallup poll had Eisenhower winning the popular vote 51-49 in a close contest. As a result, the United States Army requested a UNIVAC computer from Congress. In 1956 General Douglas MacArthur was chosen to head the company. The Univac II had a magnetic memory which could remember 10,000 words. Early UNIVAC 1100 series models were vacuum tube computers.