The Birth of UNIVAC
UNIVAC I was the first commercial computer in the United States. Without it, we wouldn’t have our precious little MacBooks or iPads.
Well, now that I think about it, some other Americans surely would have built a commercial computer if they hadn’t. So we would still have our gadgets, but it would be in a parallel universe and maybe in that universe having a Dell is like the coolest thing you can have and there’s a Zune in every pocket of every pair of parachute pants.
Anyway, the first UNIVersal Automatic Computer was delivered to the U.S. Census Bureau and dedicated on June 14, 1951. It’s the same computer later predicted the 1952 presidential election for Eisenhower.
It cost over $1 million, used 5,200 vacuum tubes, weighed 13 tons and could do a mere 1,905 operations per second.
Pictured above, Rear Admiral/Badass Grace Hopper at the controls of UNIVAC I.
Next time you complain about your laptop being slow, keep in mind how far we’ve come. Super-fascinating. Also, Grace Hopper is awesome.