Charles Babbage Institute
spacer.gif (43 bytes)spacer.gif (43 bytes) spacer.gif (67 bytes)
Collecting scope
Service and how to use the collections
Search the collections
Archives and manuscripts
Oral histories
Journals and serial publications (LUMINA)
spacer.gif (807 bytes)
Oral histories
1 record(s)

Title: UNIVAC conference
Call Number: OH 200
Interviewee: Woltman, Richard D.
Interviewee: Woltman, Frances B.
Interviewee: Wilson, Louis D.
Interviewee: UNIVAC Conference
Interviewee: Tonik, Albert B.
Interviewee: Swearingen, John K.
Interviewee: Shuler, Cecil M.
Interviewee: Sberro, Joseph E.
Interviewee: Sammet, Jean E., 1928-
Interviewee: Matter, H. W.
Interviewee: Marquardt, Donald W.
Interviewee: Koons, Florence K.
Interviewee: Huff, Morgan W.
Interviewee: Holberton, Frances E.
Interviewee: Hammer, Carl, 1914-
Interviewee: Dixon, Donald B.
Interviewee: Delves, Eugene L.
Interviewee: Danehower, George
Interviewee: Chinitz, M. Paul
Interviewee: Carter, Lee S.
Interviewee: Bartik, Jean
Interviewee: Armstrong, Lancelot W.
Interviewee: Armstrong, Dorothy P.
Interviewee: Adams, Armand E.
Repository: Charles Babbage Institute, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
Description: Transcript, 171 pp.

Abstract: The introduction of the UNIVAC computer is among those subjects in the history of computing that has received wide attention. The issues and sequence of events leading to the development of the UNIVAC have been covered in such writings as Nancy Stern's From ENIAC to UNIVAC and Herman Lukoff's From Dits to Bits, and was the subject of the 1981 AFIPS Pioneer Day. However, less attention has been devoted to the place of the UNIVAC from approximately 1952 to 1956, after its initial development. A two-day oral history conference was convened in May 1990 to examine the role and effect of the UNIVAC on computing and the computer industry in the mid-1950s.

The meeting involved over twenty-five engineers, programmers, marketing representatives, and salesmen who were involved with the UNIVAC, as well as customers who had worked with the machine. Many of these persons were key to the development and use of the computer, although this was the first time that most had been part of the historical analysis of the UNIVAC. Of particular note was the attendance of individuals from General Electric and Arthur Andersen. Both firms were early purchasers of the UNIVAC and had an important influence on the sale of UNIVACs to other businesses. Also represented in the group was the U.S. Census, which purchased the first UNIVAC from Remington Rand.

The conference was organized and supported by the Unisys Corporation in concert with the Charles Babbage Institute (CBI) and the Smithsonian Institution. Anne Frantilla, corporate archivist for Unisys, was responsible for developing the conference and bringing together the participants. The Smithsonian hosted and recorded the conference. CBI undertook the production of this transcript, and has added the audio tape(s)s to its oral history collection.

Editing of this transcript has been minimal. The text was altered only when an exact transcript of the spoken word did not adequately convey the intended meaning. More substantive changes and editorial remarks are enclosed in square brackets ([ ]). Also note that "UNIVAC" (all caps) conveys the computer, and "Univac" generally means the Univac Division of Remington Rand, later Sperry Rand. The editing of this transcript is unlike other oral interviews conducted by the Charles Babbage Institute in that participants were not given a chance to review their comments. The number of participants simply made CBI's standard practice infeasible. However, John Swearingen and Frances and Richard Woltman graciously agreed to review the transcript, and most of their recommendations were incorporated in the final transcript. Bruce Bruemmer edited the transcript.

Participants include: Armand E. Adams, Dorothy P. Armstrong, Lancelot W. Armstrong, Jean Bartik, Lee S. Carter, M. Paul Chinitz, George Danehower, Eugene L. Delves, Donald B. Dixon, Carl Hammer, Frances Elizabeth Holberton, Morgan W. Huff, Florence K. Koons, Donald W. Marquardt, H. W. Matter, Jean E. Sammet, Joseph E. Sberro, Cecil M. Shuler, John K. Swearingen, Albert Tonik, Louis D. Wilson, Frances B. Woltman, Richard D. Woltman.

Moderators include: Paul Cerruzi, Bernard A. Galler, Michael S. Mahoney, Arthur L. Norberg, Robert F. Rosin, and Henry S. Tropp.

Subject(s): Woltman, Richard D. ; Woltman, Frances B. ; Wilson, Louis D. ; Univac computer ; United States. -- Bureau of the Census ; Tonik, Albert B. ; Swearingen, John K. ; Shuler, Cecil M. ; Sberro, Joseph E. ; Sammet, Jean E., 1928- ; Remington Rand, Inc. -- Univac Division ; Matter, H. W. ; Marquardt, Donald W. ; Koons, Florence K. ; International Business Machines Corporation ; Huff, Morgan W. ; Holberton, Frances E. ; Hammer, Carl, 1914- ; General Electric Company ; Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation (Philadelphia, Pa.) ; Dixon, Donald B. ; Delves, Eugene L. ; Danehower, George ; Computers -- United States -- History ; Computer industry -- United States -- History ; Chinitz, M. Paul ; Carter, Lee S. ; Bartik, Jean ; Arthur Andersen & Co. ; Armstrong, Lancelot W. ; Armstrong, Dorothy P. ; Adams, Armand E.

Citation: UNIVAC Conference, OH 200. Oral history on 17-18 May 1990, Washington, D. C. Charles Babbage Institute, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.

Copyright: Copyright to this oral history is held by the Charles Babbage Institute. Distribution in any format of the transcript in its entirety is prohibited. Permission to quote from the transcript under the fair use provision of the copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code) is granted provided that this source is cited.

Transcript: Link to transcript

Back to Oral Histories Menu

spacer.gif (67 bytes) spacer.gif (67 bytes)
spacer.gif (67 bytes)

Comments, questions, suggestions to: Elisabeth Kaplan