31.03.

1951: The Famous UNIVAC Computer from the 1950s Weighed 13 Tons

1951: The Famous UNIVAC Computer from the 1950s Weighed 13 Tons
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons / UNIVAC I operator's console

Story Highlights

  • Historical event
  • 31 March 1951
  • Interestingly, the majority of American universities could not afford to purchase UNIVAC. In total, only 46 of these computers were delivered to various institutions.

The first sale of a usable electronic computer in history took place on this day. It was the famous UNIVAC, which was sold to the U.S. Census Bureau.

UNIVAC stands for UNIVersal Automatic Computer, manufactured by the company Remington Rand, the former weapons (Remington Arms) and typewriters manufacturer.

Today, the Unisys Corporation is the successor of that company.

The UNIVAC computer consisted of 5,200 vacuum tubes and weighed 13,000 kg. It required 125 kW of electricity and could perform 1,905 operations per second.

A total of 46 UNIVAC computers were delivered to various institutions. Interestingly, the majority of American universities could not afford to acquire one.

UNIVAC became famous when it predicted the results of the U.S. presidential elections in 1952. Namely, based on a sample of 1% of the vote, it predicted a landslide victory of General Dwight David Eisenhower.

Most questionnaires gave a huge advantage to another candidate (Adlai Stevenson), so the television didn’t dare to publish UNIVAC’s prediction.

Only when Eisenhower actually won the election did they realize UNIVAC’s ability.

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