Brad Acker‘s Today’s Memory
Originally shared by Brad Acker
Today in History: U.S. Census Bureau dedicates UNIVAC I
On June 14, 1951 — 63 years ago today — the United States Census Bureau dedicated the world’s first commercially produced electronic digital computer, the UNIVAC I, which stood for *UNIV*ersal *A*utomatic *C*omputer.
The computer model, of which 46 were made, became famous for correctly predicting the presidential election outcome in 1952. In fact, the computer correctly predicted an Eisenhower landslide victory with only a tiny percentage of the votes actually counted; but because traditional pollsters almost universally predicted victory for Adlai Stevenson, CBS withheld the computer’s prediction until later in the evening. At 8:30 PM, the computer was predicting the electoral college vote — Eisenhower 438, Stevenson 93. The actual count ended up as Eisenhower 442, Stevenson 89. CBS, using the computer data, was the first network to call the election. By the next presidential election in 1956, the other two major networks were also using computers on election night.
The UNIVAC was designed by J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly, and it was manufactured by the Remington Rand company. The computer weighed 29,000 pounds and could process about 1,905 operations per second using a 2.25 Mhz clock.