Skip to main content
Message Font: Serif | Sans-Serif
No. of Recommendations: 3
This is an actual press release from Unisys!

Unisys Apologizes for Creating Unintended Consequences of the Computer Age

'We'll do better,' promises developer of leading-edge technology

BLUE BELL, Pa.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--June 14, 2001--Unisys Corporation today issued a public apology for the many human inconveniences resulting from its invention of UNIVAC I, the world's first commercial computer, introduced on June 14, 1951.

``UNIVAC was a marvel of its time,' said Leo Daiuto, corporate vice president, and vice president and general manager, Product Development & Technology. ``Directly or indirectly, our invention of UNIVAC led to a whole new industry and a new way of life for all of us. Today, we're still inventing bigger, faster, more cost-effective enterprise computers. But sadly,' Daiuto continued, ``the many benefits of the Computer Age have been accompanied by a number of transaction-based annoyances - all unimagined fifty years ago. As the company that started it all, Unisys feels it only fitting that it mark this historic anniversary with an apology for those inconveniences.'

Specifically, Unisys apologized for:

*Making it impossible for anyone to do more than five minutes' worth of work without being interrupted by an emailed joke, Top Ten list, or chain letter.

*Ensuring that if something goes wrong with a piece of equipment, intelligent, well-meaning people armed with hand tools and mechanical know-how will no longer be able to fix it.

*Relegating to obscurity the smell of fresh-cut flowers because the only flowers you ever get to smell nowadays are the ones you see in online pictures when you're ordering them to appease an irate spouse, who's feeling neglected because you're spending every spare minute online.

*Making trips to the mall unnecessary because anything you can get there is available online at a steep discount.

*Ending that great morning tradition of newspaper and coffee, because by the time your coffee is hot, the ``news' in your newspaper is already two generations behind the online edition.

*Giving government, business, and the average twelve-year-old the means by which to find out more about you and your personal tastes than you yourself ever knew.

*Getting you so used to receiving responses in nanoseconds that you can no longer wait the ten seconds it takes for your microwave oven to warm up your bagel.

*Making it impossible for you to justify that trip to a training workshop in Cancun because all the training you'll need is now available on your desktop.

*Making it possible for you to vacation in Cancun without ever losing touch with your boss back at the office.

*Forcing you to go through a five-minute startup routine every time your computer crashes while you're creating a three-minute memo.

*Giving SPAM a bad name.

*Jeopardizing the continued influence in American presidential politics of the hanging chad.

*Making it easier for the IRS to spot discrepancies between your tax return and objective reality.

*Reducing your life and everything in it to a series of counterintuitive acronyms.

*Giving you a false sense of security regarding the spelling and grammatical accuracy of your next memo.

*Increasing your volume of in-mail to the point where you have to devote significant time outside of regular working hours to get through it all.

*Eliminating the concept of regular working hours.

*Providing you with the means to lose money in the stock market at an unprecedented pace.

*The half-dozen keystrokes you need to press for the privilege of being put on hold.

*All those Monday morning deadlines you didn't know about because they were emailed to your laptop at 10:00 p.m. on Sunday.

*All those theater tickets you can no longer buy at the door because every seat has already been sold online.

*The bubble.

*The bursting of the bubble.

*The concept of multitasking.

*The avalanche of press releases that any company with a media directory and access to email can now generate at a moment's notice.

UNIVAC, short for Universal Automatic Computer, was a large-scale, general-purpose commercial electronic computing system designed to satisfy the diverse needs of business management. Heralded by users as a fundamental management tool, the UNIVAC computer made possible a degree of management control never before realized by organizations in both the public and private sectors.

The United States Census Bureau became the first enterprise computer customer on June 14, 1951, when its UNIVAC I was officially put into service.

With other government clients such as the United States Air Force, the United States Army, and the Atomic Energy Commission, as well as public industry giants such as General Electric, Metropolitan Life, US Steel, and DuPont, UNIVAC quickly became the acknowledged standard for technological innovation at the dawn of the Computer Age.

In 1952, UNIVAC I gained widespread public attention when it correctly predicted the Eisenhower landslide in the US Presidential election. Because most political pundits were expecting a much closer election, CBS chose not to air the UNIVAC prediction, acknowledging its accuracy only after the election had been decided.

``Fifty years ago, it certainly wasn't easy to predict how radically our lives would be changed by the computer,' Daiuto said. ``UNIVAC was invented to help manage the complexities of our lives, but in many ways we now face more complexities because of what UNIVAC started. Over the past half-century, the world has paid a high price for the benefits of business computing. That's why we introduced our latest innovation, which makes the benefits of effectively processing business transactions available more widely.

``Cellular MultiProcessing [CMP],' Daiuto concluded, ``allows us to design and deliver mainframe computers and enterprise servers that make handling big transactions easier than ever before, yet that are also less expensive than competitive systems. We'll continue to develop new technology to advance the evolution we started with UNIVAC - and this time, we hope, without all those nasty, unintended consequences.'

About Unisys

Unisys is an e-business solutions company whose 37,000 employees help customers in 100 countries apply information technology to seize opportunities and overcome challenges of the Internet economy.

Unisys people integrate and deliver the solutions, services, platforms and network infrastructure required by business and government to transform their organizations for success in this new era.

The company offers a rich portfolio of Unisys e-@ction Solutions for e-business based on its expertise in vertical industry solutions, network services, outsourcing, systems integration and multivendor support, coupled with enterprise-class server and related technologies.

The primary vertical markets Unisys serves worldwide include financial services, transportation, communications, publishing and commercial sectors, as well as the public sector, including federal government customers. Unisys is headquartered in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, in the Greater Philadelphia area.

For more information on the company, access the Unisys home page on the World Wide Web at Investor information can be found at

RELEASE NO.: 0601/8026 (Facts/Comparison Sidebar follows)

Unisys is a registered trademark and e-@ction is a trademark of Unisys Corporation. All other brands and products referenced herein are acknowledged to be trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective holders.


UNIVAC I Unisys e-@ction Enterprise Server ES7000 Ratio Add 120 microseconds 0.556 nanoseconds 216,000:1 Multiply 1800 microseconds 20 nanoseconds 90,000:1 Divide 3600 microseconds 78 nanoseconds 46,000:1 Memory 9,000 bytes 64 gigabytes 1:7.6 million Dimensions 952 cubic feet 52 cubic feet 18.4:1 Weight 29,000 lbs 1,200 lbs 24:1 Power 125 kilowatts 6.76 kilowatts 18.5:1 Processors 1 @ 0.008 MHz 32 @ 900 MHz 1:3,600,000

A microsecond is one millionth of a second; a nanosecond is one billionth of a second.

A gigabyte is one billion bytes

The UNIVAC I was so large that it was built in a cube with a hollow core and had doors to walk inside. Customer engineers frequently put a desk and chair inside and used it as an air-conditioned office.
UNIVAC I was water-cooled and required a constant source of chilled water flowing through its pipes to keep the vacuum tubes from overheating. One UNIVAC was cooled with water from the local river and failed from overheating. The cause was traced to a fish blocking one of the pipes. The screen on the intake pipe had come loose creating the first computer-fish failure (rather than a bug).
Note: Photos are available at:


Guy Esnouf, 215/986-2716
Steve Holzman, 215/986-5098
Print the post  


What was Your Dumbest Investment?
Share it with us -- and learn from others' stories of flubs.
When Life Gives You Lemons
We all have had hardships and made poor decisions. The important thing is how we respond and grow. Read the story of a Fool who started from nothing, and looks to gain everything.
Contact Us
Contact Customer Service and other Fool departments here.
Work for Fools?
Winner of the Washingtonian great places to work, and Glassdoor #1 Company to Work For 2015! Have access to all of TMF's online and email products for FREE, and be paid for your contributions to TMF! Click the link and start your Fool career.