UNIVAC serves as the catch-all name for the American manufacturers of the lines of mainframe computers by that name, which through mergers and acquisitions underwent numerous name changes. The company UNIVAC began as the business computer division of Remington Rand formed by the 1950 purchase of the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation, founded four years earlier by ENIAC inventors J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly.
Corporate history and structure
Eckert and Mauchly built the ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer) at the University of Pennsylvania's Moore School of Electrical Engineering between 1943 and 1946. A March 1946 patent rights dispute with the university led Eckert and Mauchly to depart the Moore School to form the Electronic Control Company, later renamed Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation (EMCC), based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. That company first built a computer called BINAC (BInary Automatic Computer) for Northrop Aviation (which was little used, or perhaps not at all). Afterwards began the development of UNIVAC. UNIVAC was first intended for the Bureau of the Census, which paid for much of the development, and then was put in production.
With the death of EMCC's chairman and chief financial backer Harry 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 managed the Manhattan Project.) Remington Rand had its own lab in Norwalk, Connecticut, and later bought Engineering Research Associates in St. Paul, Minnesota. Remington Rand merged these groups, calling the result the Univac Division of Remington Rand. (This severely annoyed those who had been with ERA and with the Norwalk laboratory.)
The most famous UNIVAC product was the UNIVAC I mainframe computer of 1951, which became known for predicting 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 the Univac division of Sperry Rand. General Douglas MacArthur was chosen to head the company. Around 1975, to assist "corporate identity" the name was changed to Sperry Univac, along with "Sperry Remington", "Sperry New Holland" etc.
In the 1960s, UNIVAC was one of the eight major American computer companies in an industry then referred to as "Snow White and the seven dwarfs"—IBM, the largest, being Snow White and the others being the dwarfs: Burroughs, NCR, Control Data Corporation, General Electric, RCA and Honeywell. (Another industry player, albeit much smaller, was Scientific Data Systems). In the 1970s, after GE sold its computer business to Honeywell and RCA sold its to Univac, the analogy to the seven dwarfs of legend became less apt and the remaining small firms became known as the "BUNCH" (Burroughs, Univac, NCR, Control Data, and Honeywell).
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 Burroughs Corporation to become Unisys.
Since the 1986 marriage of Burroughs and Sperry, Unisys has metamorphosed from a computer manufacturer to a computer services and outsourcing firm, competing in the same marketplace as IBM, Electronic Data Systems (EDS), and Computer Sciences Corporation. Unisys continues to design and manufacture enterprise class computers with the ClearPath and ES7000 server lines.
In the course of its history, UNIVAC produced a number of separate model ranges. The following incomplete overview should be updated.
- The original model range was the UNIVAC I (UNIVersal Automatic Computer I), the first commercial computer made in the United States. 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. Successor machines included:
- The UNIVAC II was an improvement to the UNIVAC I that UNIVAC first delivered in 1958. The improvements included magnetic (non-mercury) core memory of 2000 to 10000 words, UNISERVO II tape drives which could use either the old UNIVAC I metal tapes or the new PET film tapes, and some circuits that were transistorized (although it was still a vacuum tube computer). It was fully compatible with existing UNIVAC I programs for both code and data. The UNIVAC II also added some instructions to the UNIVAC I's instruction set.
- UNIVAC III. Sperry Rand began shipment in 1962 and produced 96 UNIVAC III systems. Unlike the UNIVAC I and UNIVAC II, however, it was a binary machine as well as maintaining support for all UNIVAC I and UNIVAC II decimal and alphanumeric data formats for backward compatibility. This was the last of the original UNIVAC machines.
- 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. It came in two versions: the Solid State 80 (IBM-Hollerith 80 column cards) and the Solid State 90 (Remington-Rand 90 column cards). This machine was designated the Solid State 80-90 and sold mostly in Europe. UNIVAC SS80/90s were installed at DC Transit, SBA, CWA, in Washington DC during the early sixties. It was a follow on to a computer built for the USAF and delivered to Lawrence G. Hanscom Field, near Cambridge, MA in 1957. This computer used magnetic amplifiers, not transistors. The decision to use magnetic amplifiers was made because the point-contact germanium transistors then available had highly variable characteristics and were not suficiently reliable. The magnetic amplifiers were based on tiny (about 1/8" ID) toroidal stainless steel spools wound with two or so layers of 1/32" wide 4-79 moly-permalloy magnetic material to form magnetic cores. These cores had two windings of #60 copper wire surrounding the 4-79 molypermalloy. The SS80/90 was aimed at the general purpose business market. 0.
- Early UNIVAC 110x vacuum tube computers
- 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 a 24 bit machine with drum memory.
- The UNIVAC 1102 or ERA 1102 was designed by Engineering Research Associates for the United States Air Force.
- The UNIVAC 1103 was a successor to the UNIVAC 1101 introduced in 1953. It was a 36 bit machine using hybrid memory of magnetic drum and Williams tubes. An upgraded version UNIVAC 1103A was released in 1956 and was a contemporary of the IBM 704. It bears the distinction of being the first machine to use magnetic core store (instead of the Williams Tubes).
- The UNIVAC 1104 computer system was a 30-bit version of the UNIVAC 1103 built for Westinghouse Electric, in 1957, for use on the BOMARC Missile Program. However, by the time the BOMARC was deployed in the 1960s, a more modern computer (a version of the AN/USQ-20, designated the G-40) had replaced the UNIVAC 1104.
- The UNIVAC 1105 was the successor to the 1103A, and was introduced in 1958.
- The UNIVAC 1100/2200 series is a series of compatible 36-bit transistorized computer systems initially made by Sperry Rand. The series continues to be supported today by Unisys Corporation as the ClearPath Plus Dorado Series
- The UNIVAC 1107 was the first member of Sperry Univac's UNIVAC 1100 series of computers, introduced in October 1962. It represented a marked change of architecture: unlike previous models, it was not a strict two-address machine: it was a single address machine with up to 65536 words of 36-bit core memory. The machine's registers were stored in 128 words of thin film memory, a faster form of magnetic storage. With 6 cycles of thin film memory per 4 microsecond main memory cycle, address indexing was performed without a cycle time penalty. Only 36 systems were sold.
- The UNIVAC 1108 was the second member of Sperry Univac's UNIVAC 1100 series of computers, introduced in 1964. It was the first multiprocessor machine in the series, capable of expansion to three CPUs and two IOCs (Input/Output Control Units). To support this, it had up to 262144 words of eight-ported main memory: separate instruction and data paths for each CPU, and one path for each IOC. The instruction set was very similar to that of the 1107, but included some additional instructions, including the "Test and Set" instruction for multiprocessor synchronization. Some models of the 1108 implemented the ability to divide words into 4 – 9-bit bytes, allowing use of ASCII characters.
- The UNIVAC 1106 was the third member of Sperry Univac's UNIVAC 1100 series of computers, introduced in December 1969 and was absolutely identical to the UNIVAC 1108 in instruction set. Like the 1108, it was multiprocessor capable, though it appears that it was never supplied with more than (can someone fill in the number here?) CPUs, and it was not supplied with any IOCs. Early versions of the UNIVAC 1106 were simply half speed UNIVAC 1108 systems. Later Sperry Univac used a different memory system which was inherently slower and cheaper than that of the UNIVAC 1108. Sperry Univac sold a total of 338 processors in 1106 systems.
- The UNIVAC 1110 was the fourth member of Sperry Univac's UNIVAC 1100 series of computers, introduced in 1972. The UNIVAC 1110 had enhanced multiprocessing support: sixteen-way memory access allowed up to six CAUs (Command Arithmetic Unit, the new name for CPU) and four IOAUs (Input Output Access Units, the new name for IOPU). It also had 'extended memory' cabinets accessible in a 'daisy chain' arrangement to augment main storage. The larger configurations, 6x4+ were used by NASA. It also introduced an extension to the instruction set, of 'Byte Instructions'. Sperry Univac sold a total of 290 processors in 1110 systems.
- In 1975, Sperry Univac introduced a new series of machines with semiconductor memory replacing core, with a new naming convention:
- An upgraded 1106 was called the UNIVAC 1100/10. In this new naming convention, the final digit represented the number of CPUs or CAUs in the system.
- An upgraded 1108 was called the UNIVAC 1100/20.
- An upgraded 1110 was released as the UNIVAC 1100/40.
- The UNIVAC 1100/60 was introduced in 1979.
- The UNIVAC 1100/70 was introduced in 1981.
- The UNIVAC 1100/80 was introduced in 1979. Intended to combine 1100 and 494 systems.
- The UNIVAC 1100/90 was introduced in 1982. It was liquid-cooled.
The 1100/80 introduced a cache memory - the SIU or Storage Interface Unit. It incorporated a mini-computer, based on the BC/7 (business computer) as a maintenance processor. This was used to load microcode, and for diagnostic purposes. Power was 400 Hz, to reduce large scale DC power supplies.
- Remington Rand 409 was a plug-board programmed punch card calculator, designed in 1949.
- The UNIVAC 418 (aka 1219) was an 18-bit word core memory machine. Over the three different models, more than 392 systems were manufactured.
- The UNIVAC 490 was a 30-bit word core memory machine with 16K or 32K words; 4.8 microsecond cycle time.
- The UNIVAC 492 is similar to the UNIVAC 490, but with extended memory to 64K 30-bit words.
- 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 plug-board 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 cards/minute) using 90 column round hole cards or IBM compatible 80 column cards, and a drum printer (400 lines/minute). The 1004 was also supported as a remote card reader & printer via synchronous communication services.
- The UNIVAC 1005, an enhanced version of the UNIVAC 1004, was introduced in February 1966. The main improvement over the 1004 was conversion from the plug-board program to an internal stored program. The machine saw extensive use by the US Army, including the first use of an electronic computer on the battlefield. Additional peripherals were also available including a paper tape reader and a three pocket stacker selectable card read/punch. The machine had a two-stage assembler (SAAL - Single Address Assembly Language) which was its primary assembler; it also had a three stage card based compiler for a programming language called SARGE.
- The UNIVAC 1050 was an internally programmed computer with up to 32K of 6-bit character memory, which was introduced in 1963. It was a 1-address machine with 30-bit instructions, had a 4K operating system and was programmed in the PAL assembly language.
- The Sperry UNIVAC System 80 series was introduced in 1981.
- The UNIVAC 9000 Series was introduced in the mid-1960s to compete with the low end of the IBM 360 series. The 9000 series implemented the IBM 360 instruction set. The 9200 and 9300 (which differed only in CPU speed) implemented the same restricted 360 subset as the IBM 360/20, while the UNIVAC 9400 implemented the full 360 instruction set. The 9400 was roughly equivalent to the IBM 360/30. Later, more advanced machines such as the Univac 90/60, 90/70 and 90/80 provided systems which were similar to or equivalent to high-end IBM 360 and later IBM 370 mainframes.
The 9000 series used plated wire memory, which functioned somewhat like core memory but used a non-destructive read. Since the 9000 series was intended as direct competitors to IBM, they used 80-column cards and EBCDIC character encoding.
- The UNIVAC 9200 was marketed as a functional replacement for the 1004 and as a direct competitor to the IBM 360/20. 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. Memory was 4KiB expandable to 16KiB. The printer differed from earlier UNIVAC printers, being similar to IBM's "bar printer" of the same era. It used 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 1107 was the first 36-bit, word-oriented
machine with an architecture
close to that which came to be known as that of the "1100 Series." It ran the EXEC II
operating system, a batch-oriented
second-generation operating system
, typical of the early to mid-1960s. The 1108 ran EXEC II and EXEC 8
. EXEC 8 allowed simultaneous handling of real-time applications, time-sharing, and background batch work. TIP, a transaction-processing environment, allowed programs to be written in COBOL whereas similar programs on competing systems were written in assembly language. On later systems, EXEC 8 was renamed OS1100 and OS2200, with modern descendants maintaining backwards compatibility. Some more exotic operating systems ran on the 1108—one of which was RTOS, a more bare-bones system designed to take better advantage of the hardware.
The affordable System 80 series of small mainframes ran the OS/3 operating system.
The UNIVAC 9000 Series first ran with the original TSOS operating system developed by RCA, then later with Univac's inhouse developed VS/9.
- David E. Lundstrom: A Few Good Men from Univac, ISBN 0735100101
- Nancy Beth Stern, From Eniac to UNIVAC: An Appraisal of the Eckert-Mauchy Computers, ISBN 0932376142
- Arthur L. Norberg, Computers and Commerce: A Study of Technology and Management at Eckert-Mauchly Computer Company, Engineering Research Associates, and Remington Rand, 1946-1957 (History of Computing) (Hardcover), ISBN 026214090X
- James W. Cortada, Before the Computer: IBM, NCR, Burroughs, and Remington Rand and the Industry They Created, 1865-1956 (Studies in Business and Technology), ISBN 0691050457
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