© System Source

Univac 490

Sperry Univac
Gallery of Univac 490

The UNIVAC 490 is a 30-bit word core memory machine with 16K or 32K words and a 4.8 microsecond cycle time.

Seymour Cray designed this system before he left UNIVAC to found Control Data Corporation.

Apparently at least 47 of these machines were made (serial numbers from 101 to 147). Six were installed at NASA and played important roles in Gemini and Apollo missions. In the film "Apollo 13", the screens that came to life after the onboard computer was reactivated would have been responding to a Univac 490. The U490 had complete control of most or all of the data readout screens in Houston's Mission Control. The USAF had two installed, as did Lockheed. Airlines using the 490 Real-Time system included Eastern and Northwest Orient - principally airline reservations systems at Eastern Air Lines (1963) and British European Airways (BEACON - 1964). Other commercial installations of the 490 Real-Time included two at Westinghouse and one each at Alcoa, US Steel, Bethlehem Steel and General Motors.

The only surviving, nearly complete, original, civilian version of the 490 Real-Time System is displayed at System Source. It has 3 memory cores. System Source also has a nearly complete set of original documentation for the machine including original blueprints and troubleshooting data.

Anyone want to help our curator, Bob Roswell, restore it?