1.2 The History of Computing 13 started work on another machine known as EDVAC, which was completed in 1950. In 1951 the first commercial computer, UNIVAC I, was delivered to the Bureau of the Census. The UNIVAC I was the first computer used to predict the outcome of a presidential election. The early history that began with the abacus ended with the delivery of the UNIVAC I. With the delivery of that machine, the dream of a device that could rapidly manipulate numbers was realized; the search was ended. Or was it? Some experts predicted at that time that a small number of computers would be able to handle the computational needs of mankind. What they didn’t realize was that the ability to perform fast calculations on large amounts of data would radically change the very nature of fields such as mathematics, physics, engineering, and economics. That is, computers made those experts’ assessment of what needed to be calculated entirely invalid. 3
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