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The UNIVAC I (UNIVersal Automatic Computer I) was the first commercial computer produced in the United States. It was designed principally by J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly, the inventors of the ENIAC. Design work was begun by their company, Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation, and was completed after the company had been acquired by Remington Rand. (In the years before successor models of the UNIVAC I appeared, the machine was simply known as "the UNIVAC".)

The first UNIVAC was delivered to the United States Census Bureau on March 31, 1951, and was dedicated on June 14 that year.[1] The fifth machine (built for the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission) was used by CBS to predict the result of the 1952 presidential election. With a sample of just 1% of the voting population it correctly predicted that Dwight Eisenhower would win. The UNIVAC I computers were built by Remington Rand's UNIVAC division (successor of the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation, bought by Rand in 1950 which later became part of Sperry, now Unisys).



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As well as being the first American commercial computer, the UNIVAC I was the first American computer designed at the outset for business and administrative use (i.e., for the fast execution of large numbers of relatively simple arithmetic and data transport operations, as opposed to the complex numerical calculations required by scientific computers). As such the UNIVAC competed directly against punch-card machines (mainly made by IBM), but oddly enough the UNIVAC originally had no means of either reading or punching cards (which initially hindered sales to some companies with large quantities of data on cards, due to potential manual conversion costs). This was corrected by adding offline card processing equipment, the UNIVAC Card to Tape converter and the UNIVAC Tape to Card converter, to transfer data between cards and UNIVAC magnetic tapes.

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