The UNIVAC I was the world’s first commercially available computer. The first UNIVAC I was delivered on June 14, 1951. From 1951 to 1958 a total of 46 UNIVAC I computers were delivered, all of which have since been phased out. In 1947, John Mauchly chose the name “UNIVAC” (Universal Automatic Computer) for his company’s product. UNIVAC was designed by J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly (designers of the ENIAC). Their company, the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Company, was purchased by Sperry-Rand.
The UNIVAC handled both numbers and alphabetic characters equally well. The UNIVAC I was unique in that it separated the complex problems of input and output from the actual computation facility. Mercury delay lines were used to store the computer’s program. The program circulated within the lines in the form of acoustical pulses that could be read from the line and written into it.