MCCLELLAND, GEORGE WILLIAM. 1880-1955. Typed Letter Signed ("George Wm. McClelland"), 1 p, 4to, Philadelphia, March 15, 1945, to J. Presper Eckert at the Moore School of Electrical Engineering, on University of Pennsylvania stationery, small light stain above signature, very good.
WITH: press photograph of ENIAC.
THE BIRTH CERTIFICATE OF THE COMPUTER AGE in which Eckert and John Mauchly are allowed the right to patent their inventions made under contract with the University, to wit, ENIAC, the first electronic general-use computer. Their patent would later allow them to found the world's first computer corporation.
Eckert and Mauchly's work on ENIAC began in 1943 to aid the war effort by computing ballistic firing tables. By the time ENIAC was announced to the public in February of 1946 it was not only 1000 times faster than any of its contemporaries, but digital and capable of being reprogrammed.
Almost exactly a year after the date of the present letter, Eckert and Mauchly both left UPenn in a dispute over the assignation of patent rights. Whereas the present document allows the inventors the rights for commercial uses, retaining only the University's right for non-profit ones, a change in the administration meant they wanted all rights. Instead, the EckertMauchly Computer Corporation was founded, being the first computer company. There they built both BINAC and UNIVAC, the first commercial digital computers.