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Odd Wisconsin Archive

Dawn of the Internet

On this day in 1951 Remington Rand Corporation delivered the first UNIVAC. Short for "Universal Automatic Computer," it contained thousands of vacuum tubes, used flip-flopping mechanical switches to manipulate data, and employed punch cards to output and store information. On that same day Steve Wozniak was having his diapers changed in Sunnyvale, California, 25 years before he would invent the personal computer.

During that quarter century, Wisconsin residents would grow accustomed to using computers. Here we see them employing primitive computers in 1956 to analyze cement, in 1960 to help manage the dairy herd, and in 1963 to run a successful off-line dating service. By then, creative Milwaukee high school students had even developed their own "Answer Machine" to help with their studies.

By the end of the 1960s, engineers had got these electronic behemoths talking to each other. By the end of the next decade, Wozniak, Jobs, and their cohorts would make it possible you and me to put computers on our desktops, and the Internet was waiting to be born.

:: Posted in Odd Lives on March 30, 2005
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