Archive: Computer Collector Newsletter / Technology Rewind, Jan. 2004 - March 2006
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Not just an office: EMCC
by Evan Koblentz
Office tenants come and office tenants go. Anyone who's worked in Silicon Valley knows this. Even when I worked for Ziff-Davis in Woburn, Mass. just a few years ago, it made my day to learn from the building manager that DEC was a prior tenant.
So imagine the surprise of computer scientist Peter Cook in 1996 when he realized that the headquarters of the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation was still standing just 2.7 miles from his Temple University office. The epiphany came while looking at the famous photograph of Walter Cronkite and Pres Eckert watching a UNIVAC outwit human experts to correctly predict Ike Eisenhower's landslide victory in the 1952 U.S. presidential election -- the computer's location was printed in the photograph caption in The Evening Bulletin newspaper. (See http://tinyurl.com/anxyw for a University of Pennsylvania copy.)
Now, Cook and former Eckert-Mauchly engineer Ed Henderson are trying to raise $1,200 to have a small memorial installed at the Philadelphia warehouse. Their plan is endorsed by the current owner and by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. So far they have about $350 including donations from TCP inventor Vint Cerf and VisiCalc co-inventor Bob Frankston. "I think by at least November we should have it all," Cook said of the necessary funds. (See the web site at http://compududes.com/univac.htm for details.)
Unfortunately, he said, the modern Unisys declined to contribute. (See http://www.unisys.com/about__unisys/history/index.htm for their corporate timeline and links to external sites.)
Guy Bonney says Unisys' decision is the wrong one. Bonney is chairman of the North American branch of the UNITE (UNisys Information Technology Exchange) user group. Informed of the situation, "Quite franky, I don't understand it. I find it very curous that Unisys would not at least make a token contribution. It is certainly a landmark event in our industry," he noted. [http://www.unite.org]
"I'm going to try to take some action through the UNITE organization. We tend to be fairly active in a lot of things. I think at a minimum, the UNITE organization can try to publicaize this to our membership."