School of Information Science - Hall of Fame

J. Presper Eckert
  • J. Presper Eckert
  • Born: April 9, 1919
  • Died: June 3, 1995
  • Field: Computer hardware; computer engineering
  • Focus: Developed, with John Mauchly, the ENIAC, BINAC, and UNIVAC computers, innovative early contributions to the computing industry.
  • Country: United States
  • Era: 1950 to 1969

Presper Eckert along with John Mauchly built the Electronic Integrator and Computer (ENIAC) at the University of Pennsylvania. The ENIAC was the first general purpose electronic digital computer. It was designed to compile tables for the trajectories of bombs and shells. Eckert and Mauchly also started the Electric Control Company in 1946. Its first order was to build the Binary Automatic Computer (BINAC) from Northrop Aircraft Company. The advantage of this machine was its ability to store data on magnetic tape rather than punched cards.

The company then became the Eckert-Marchly Computer Corporation. It also built the Universal Automatic Computer (UNIVAC), which was the first commercially producted computer in the United States. The company ran into financial difficulty during 1950 and was acquired by the Remington Rand Corporation. In 1952, the UNIVAC predicted the election of Dwight D. Eisenhower as President of the United States before the polls closed. Through an additional merger, the company then became Unisys.

Throughout this time, Presper Eckert was an executive of the company until his retirement in 1989. Today, Unisys is traded on the NYSE and employs approximately 37,000 people with its company headquarters located outside Philadelphia. In 2003, the company reported a net income of approximately $258 million.

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