Early On, The UNIVAC Computer Made International News By Accurately Predicting A?

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Reply: U.S. Presidential Election

Within the early days of computing, computer systems had been large, far faraway from the general public, and used for dry (and infrequently secretive) issues like army and engineering calculations. In reality, within the 1950s, the typical particular person wouldn’t solely don’t have any expertise with a pc in any respect, however there’s probability they wouldn’t have even seen one both.

With that in thoughts, it was fairly a publicity stunt when, on November four, 1952, CBS enlisted the assistance of the Remington Rand Company to make use of their hulking vacuum tube-filled UNIVAC laptop to foretell the outcomes of the U.S. Presidential election (which noticed Dwight Eisenhower face off towards Adlai Stevenson).

Taking up the duty was an enormous gamble for Remington Rand as a result of if the pc was actually incorrect (or worse, merely didn’t carry out the duty in any respect), it could, due to the excessive visibility stunt broadcast nationwide on election night time, shake the general public belief within the budding laptop trade.

The end result of the UNIVAC’s computations, nonetheless, proved to be so wildly in favor of Eisenhower (and thus wildly correct) that the pc’s programmers held off on reporting the outcomes to the information group, led by Charles Collingwood and Walter Cronkite—believing that the machine was in error when it predicted 100 to 1 odds in favor of Eisenhower. In reality, the precise printout was “00” to “1” odds, as a result of the programmers hadn’t even thought-about the chance that the chances may very well be so in favor of 1 candidate as to generate a 3 digit quantity.

Regardless of how the computations had been downplayed on the precise night time, within the aftermath of election night time, the information had a area day with the pc’s outcomes. The gamble paid off in spades for the Remington Rand Company when their room-sized laptop proved to be fairly the election predictor and the world couldn’t cease speaking about it.

Picture courtesy of CBS/Remington Rand.

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