Outside the heart of the military-industrial complex, the operation of the ‘law’ of the suppression of radical potential was fuelled by three factors. The first was the indifference:
Indeed, at this stage of the field’s development most industrialists viewed computers mainly as tools for small numbers of university or government scientists, and the chief applications were thought to be highly scientific in nature. It was only later that the commercial implications of the computer began to be appreciated.
Von Neumann’s decision to be in the business of science was therefore far sounder than the desire of Eckert and Mauchly to be in the business of business. Although UNIVAC, as their commercial version of EDVAC was called, worked at about the same time as its IAS computer, its developmental path was very much rockier. And even though UNIVAC was designed for commerce, it was actually as much a government device as any of the other incunabula machines.
Even as ENIAC was unveiled to a startled world, Eckert was finding life at the Moore School increasingly difficult. A new policy requiring that all patent rights be vested with the school was particularly galling. He was considering the von Neumann offer to go to Princeton but decided instead to throw in his lot with Mauchly. They resigned on 31 March 1946 to form the Electronic Control Company (ECC), and began to seek backers in the financial community. They were unsuccessful. Only the NBS and the Census Bureau responded at all positively but they were uncertain about passing the large sums of money necessary for computer development to a fledgling