From Academic Kids

The American company UNIVAC began as the "business" computer division of Remington Rand formed by the purchase of the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation (EMCC) in 1950. (EMCC was the company founded by, and named after, the two inventors/architects of the ENIAC.)


History and structure

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UNIVAC® Sperry Rand label

The most famous UNIVAC product was the UNIVAC I mainframe computer of 1951. It came into the limelight with a bang when it predicted the outcome of the U.S. presidential election the following year.

In 1953 or 1954 Remington Rand merged their tabulating machine division in Norwalk, Connecticut, the Engineering Research Associates "scientific" computer division, and the UNIVAC "business" computer division into a single division under the UNIVAC name.

In 1955 Remington Rand merged with Sperry Corporation to become Sperry Rand. The UNIVAC division of Remington Rand was renamed Sperry UNIVAC. General Douglas McArthur was chosen to head the company.

UNIVAC was one of the eight major computer companies (with IBM - the largest, Burroughs, Scientific Data Systems, Control Data Corporation, General Electric, RCA and Honeywell) through most of the 1960s. (During the 1970s, the major player was IBM, with five others grouped under the rubric "The BUNCH." BUNCH was an acronym for Burroughs, UNIVAC, NCR, Control Data, and Honeywell. Sperry bought out RCA's interest in computers during the 1970s.)

In 1978 Sperry Rand, an old fashioned conglomerate of disharmonious divisions (computers, typewriters, office furniture, hay balers, manure spreaders, gyroscopes, avionics, radar, electric razors), decided to concentrate on its computing interests and unrelated divisions were sold. The company dropped the Rand from its title and reverted back to Sperry Corporation.

In 1986, Sperry Corporation merged with (some may opine "was subjected to a hostile takeover by") Burroughs Corporation to become Unisys.

Since the 1986 marriage of Burroughs and Sperry, Unisys has metamorphosed from a computer manufacturer to a computer services firm, competing in the same marketplace as IBM, EDS, and Computer Sciences Corporation. Such companies design and operate computer system environments (hardware, software, networks and operating schemes), for businesses whose leaders decide not to do that work internally. This is commonly called outsourcing.

Unisys continues to design and manufacture proprietary, mainframe-class computers and associated software.


  • The UNIVAC I (UNIVersal Automatic Computer I) was the first commercial computer made in the United States
  • The UNIVAC II was an improvement to the UNIVAC I that UNIVAC first delivered in 1958. The improvements included core memory of 2000 to 10000 words, UNISERVO II tape drives which could use either the old UNIVAC I metal tapes or the new mylar tapes, and some of the circuits were transistorized (although it was still a vacuum tube computer). It was fully compatible with existing UNIVAC I programs for both code and data.
  • UNIVAC III sucessor to the UNIVAC I and II models. Sperry Rand began shipment in 1962 and produced 96 UNIVAC III systems.
  • The UNIVAC 418 was a computer in the UNIVAC line produced by Sperry Rand, and the first approach to the establishing of a "table-top" computer. The whole machine was just small enough to fit on the top of a standard office desk. The only one that was known to exist as a working machine was seen in Univac headquarters in London around 1964. It was intended to demonstrate the system at Olympia at the Computer Industries Exhibition. This machine was one of the forerunners of the personal computer.
  • The UNIVAC 490 was a 30-bit word core memory machine with 16K or 32K words; 4.8 microsecond cycle time.
  • The UNIVAC 494 was a 30-bit word machine and successor to the UNIVAC 490/492 with faster CPU and 131K core memory. Up to 24 I/O channels were available and the system was usually shipped with UNIVAC FH880 or UNIVAC FH432 or FH1782 magnetic drum storage. Basic operating system was OMEGA (successor to REX for the 490) although custom operating systems were also used (e.g. CONTORTS for airline reservations).
  • The UNIVAC 1004 was a plugboard-programmed punch card data processing system, introduced in 1962, by UNIVAC. Total memory was 961 characters (6 bits) of core memory. Peripherals were a card reader (400 cards/minute), a card punch (200 wards/minute) using 90 column round hole cards, and a drum printer (400 lines/minute).
  • The UNIVAC 1005, an enhanced version of the UNIVAC 1004, was introduced in February 1966. The main improvement over the 1004 was conversion from external plugboard program to internal stored program. The machine saw extensive use by the US Army, including the first use of an electronic computer on the battlefield.
  • The UNIVAC 1101, or ERA 1101, was a computer system designed by Engineering Research Associates (ERA) and built by the Remington Rand corporation in the 1950s. It was the first stored program computer in the US.
  • The UNIVAC 1102 or ERA 1102 was designed by Engineering Research Associates for the United States Air Force.
  • The UNIVAC 1105 was the successor to the 1103A, and was introduced in 1958.
  • The UNIVAC 1106 was the third member of Sperry Rand's UNIVAC 1100 series of computers, introduced in December 1969 and was absolutely identical to the UNIVAC 1108 in instruction set. Early versions of the UNIVAC 1106 were simply half speed UNIVAC 1108 systems. Later Sperry Rand used a different memory system which was inherently slower and cheaper than that of the UNIVAC 1108. When Sperry Rand replaced the core memory with semiconductor memory, the same machine was released as the UNIVAC 1100/10. In this new naming convention, the final digit represented the number of CPUs (called CAUs) in the system. Sperry Rand sold a total of 338 processors in 1106 systems.
  • The UNIVAC 1107 was the first member of Sperry Rand's UNIVAC 1100 series of computers, introduced in October 1962. Also known as the Thin Film Computer because of its use of thin film memory for its register storage. Only 36 systems were sold.
  • The UNIVAC 1110 was the fourth member of Sperry Rand's UNIVAC 1100 series of computers, introduced in 1972. The UNIVAC 1110 had support for multiprocessing: up to six CPUs. When Sperry Rand replaced the core memory with semiconductor memory, the same machine was released as the UNIVAC 1100/40. In this new naming convention, the final digit represented the number of CPUs (called CAUs) in the system. Sperry Rand sold a total of 290 processors in 1110 systems.
  • The UNIVAC 1100/90 was the top of the range, liquid cooled version of the 1100 series mainframes.
  • The UNIVAC 1100/2200 series is a series of compatible 36-bit computer systems initially made by Sperry Rand. The series continues to be supported today by Unisys Corporation as the ClearPath IX.
  • The UNIVAC 9200 replaced the 1004. The printer-processor was one cabinet, the power supply and memory another and the card reader and optional card punch made an 'L' shaped configuration. The system used 'Plated Wire Memory', which functioned somewhat like core memory but used a non-destructive read. Memory was 4k expandable to 16k. The printer was unique as well, using an oscillating-type bar instead of the drums that had been used until this point, and ran at speeds up to 300 lines per minute.
  • The UNIVAC Solid State was a 2-address, bi-quinary coded decimal computer, with memory on a rotating drum with 5000 signed 10 digit words. It was one of the first computers to use some solid-state components.

See also

External links

UNIVAC® has been, over the years, a registered trademark of:



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