Tuesday, June 14 — On this date 65 years ago, it can be assumed that computer technicians and engineers at the Census Bureau were a bit nervous at the start of the workday. The first commercial computer, the 13-ton UNIVAC I, was about to begin its 12 year — or 73,000-hour — career of number crunching for the bureau. The successful start-up was used to process data from the 1950 Census of Population and was among the most important milestones leading to the modern digital revolution. Now, more than 85 percent of America’s approximately 116 million households have computers, and about 64 percent have hand-held computing devices. Whether desktop or hand-held, 80 percent of U.S. households use the internet. Computer manufacturing in the U.S. grosses nearly $8.2 billion per year.
Profile America is in its 20th year as a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau.