Presenting the Univac

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Nothing much changes, does it? With the famous Univac, the poor old programmer — even though he’s described as the most skilled member of the team (far more so, obviously, than a mere ‘Unitypist’) — still looks like a soulless drudge.

There are moments in this video when you have to recalibrate. “Here’s the brain,” the narrator says, the (admittedly fuzzy) picture showing some electronics. And then a chap — who probably referred to himself as a Univaccer or somesuch — steps into the image and you realise that’s not some inches-wide PCB but a towering bank of valves, taller than its operator.

But my favourite shot is of the mercury delay lines (right) that served as memory. Those things look scary. You can see this is a machine from the atomic age.

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