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Penn History

This exhibit was researched and written by Nicholas G. Heavens, University Archives Summer Research Fellow, 2000-2002. He is an undergraduate at the University of Chicago and has been a University Archives Summer Research Fellow for the last three years. Much of this exhibit is based on his research of the history of computing at Penn in the summer of 2000.

In 1959, the University of Pennsylvania was a center for both computer research at the Moore School and the University Computer Center and business research at the Wharton School. The University Computer Center therefore was a logical place to host a meeting of computer manufacturers and programmers to discuss the creation of a computer language for business applications. The Department of Defense was interested enough in the idea that it sponsored a subsequent Conference on Data Systems Languages (CODASYL) that developed the Common Business Oriented Language (COBOL).

COBOL was partially developed by Moore School Special Lecturer Grace Murray Hopper and was based on her FLOW-MATIC compiler system. University of Pennsylvania researchers contributed to the development of COBOL through their professional activities with the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).

As part of the increasing focus of the UCC on data processing from outside businesses and Wharton School research, the University purchased COBOL compilers for its new UNIVAC SS80 and IBM 7040/1401 in 1962 and 1963.

Remington-Rand Univac check presentation, 1962