UNIVAC is the name of a line of electronic digital stored-program computers starting with the products of the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation. Later the name was applied to a division of the Remington Rand company and successor organizations. The descendants of the UNIVAC line continue today as products of the Unisys company. UNIVAC is an acronym for UNIVersal Automatic Computer. It is the first general purpose computer for commercial use.
J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly built the ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer) at the University of Pennsylvania's Moore School of Electrical Engineering between 1943 and 1946. A 1946 patent rights dispute with the university led Eckert and Mauchly to depart the Moore School to form the Electronic Control Company, later renamed Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation (EMCC), based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. That company first built a computer called BINAC (BINary Automatic Computer) for Northrop Aviation (which was little used, or perhaps not at all). Afterwards began the development of UNIVAC. UNIVAC was first intended for the Bureau of the Census, which paid for much of the development, and then was put in production.
With the death of EMCC's chairman and chief financial backer Harry L. Straus in a plane crash on October 25, 1949, EMCC was sold to typewriter maker Remington Rand on February 15, 1950. Eckert and Mauchly now reported to Leslie Groves, the retired army general who had managed the Manhattan Project. Remington Rand had its own calculating machine lab in Norwalk, Connecticut, and later bought Engineering Research Associates (ERA) in St. Paul, Minnesota. In 1953 or 1954 Remington Rand merged their Norwalk tabulating machine division, the ERA "scientific" computer division, and the UNIVAC "business" computer division into a single division under the UNIVAC name. This severely annoyed those who had been with ERA and with the Norwalk laboratory.