Guide to the ENIAC Trial Exhibits
Master Collection, 1864-1973 [1938 - 1971 bulk]
Prepared by J.M. Duffin
Access to collections is granted in accordance with the Protocols for the University Archives and Records Center.
The archival records that form this microfilm collection are taken from the collections of three institutions: the Charles Babbage Institute for the History of Information Processing (CBI), a research center at the Walter Library of the University of Minnesota; the Hagley Museum and Library (HML), an independent research library near Wilmington, Delaware, whose collections document the history of American business and technology, particularly in the Mid Atlantic region; and the University Archives and Records Center of the University of Pennsylvania (UARC), an institutional repository whose collections primarily document the history of the University of Pennsylvania. Each of these three holds significant, but incomplete collections of the trial exhibit records submitted into evidence by the plaintiff and defendants in Federal Case 4-67-Civ. 138, Honeywell Inc. vs. Sperry Rand Corporation and Illinois Scientific Instruments, Inc. This case was filed and heard in the U.S. District Court, Fourth Division of Minnesota at Minneapolis between 1967 and 1973.
Historians of science and technology generally regard Honeywell vs. Sperry Rand as the definitive forum for the debate over and settlement of all patent and other intellectual property claims to the invention of the computer. The plaintiff and defendants introduced a comprehensive set of primary sources documenting the history of the development of the first digital computer, the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC) and the early years of the computer industry. In 1984 Honeywell, Inc. donated its plaintiff’s trial records to CBI. A year earlier Sperry-Rand had placed its defendants’ records on deposit at HML. In 1989 the School of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Pennsylvania transferred its copies of the trial records to UARC. By combining the exhibit records of both plaintiff and defendants in a temporary, best–copy, "master" collection, the three collaborating institutions effectively recreated the extraordinary resource which had only fleetingly existed at the trial itself.
The target sheet for each trial exhibit and the master collection inventory which follow below both state the institutional collection to which a given exhibit belongs. Subsequent to microfilming and the application of appropriate quality control reviews, the project archivist disassembled the master collection and returned its constituent parts to the contributing institutions.
The exhibits used from the Charles Babbage Institute were taken from the "Honeywell, Inc.: Honeywell vs. Sperry Rand Records, 1864 – 1973" collection (Accession number 985-007; Collection number CBI 1). Honeywell, Inc. donated this collection to CBI in 1984. The collection contains nine records series – indexes to the collection, pretrial deposition testimony, deposition exhibits, deposition photographic exhibits, the plaintiff’s briefs, trial testimony, the plaintiff’s trial exhibits, final judgment, and miscellaneous – assembled by Honeywell, Inc. over the long course of the litigation. The largest of these records series, by far, is the plaintiff’s trial exhibit series. This series consists of the plaintiff’s first 6,000 trial exhibits and extends to 70% of the collection. Almost all these exhibits are the actual documents submitted to the court, as revealed by the color sticker affixed to the documented and annotated with the exhibit number. The ENIAC Trial Records microfilming project utilized nearly all the plaintiff’s exhibits in the CBI collection. The CBI collection does not contain any defendants' trial exhibits.
The Hagley Museum and Library’s contribution to the master collection was a record series within its "Sperry-Univac Records, 1935 – 1973" collection (Accession number 1825; HML does not further organize its archival collections in accordance with a collection number or classification system). This collection is composed of four records groups, one of which, "Records of the Sperry-Honeywell Lawsuit, 1935 - 1973," contains two records series, the "Original File, 1941 - 1955" and the "Chronological File, 1935 – 1973." The Chronological File consists of photocopies of defendants exhibits assembled by the Sperry Corporation. All of the documents are arranged chronologically and some have the trial exhibit numbers written on them by hand. None of the records in the Original File was used in this project. The Sperry Corporation deposited the Sperry-Univac Records collection at HML in 1983. Access to the collection was restricted for 25 years from the date of creation, a restriction which expired in 1998.
The University of Pennsylvania’s collection consists of photocopies of depositions, trial testimony, and both plaintiff’s exhibits and the defendants’ exhibits. It appears to be the set of copies retained by the attorneys for the Sperry Corporation. The copies of exhibits were taken after the exhibits were submitted to the Court and after Court staff affixed numerical markers to the first page of each. The Sperry Corporation turned this collection over to the University of Pennsylvania in 1974, primarily for the use of John G. Brainerd, who, in 1945-46, was an associate professor of electrical engineering at the Moore School of Electrical Engineering and the faculty supervisor of the ENIAC project. Brainerd later became Director (or Dean) of the Moore School and served in that position from 1954 to 1970. He retired in 1975, after nearly fifty years on the faculty. The Moore School set aside a storage area in its building for the indefinite retention of this collection, but its existence was not publicized and research in the collection not encouraged. It is unclear what intentions or purposes Brainerd may have had for the collection, but it is known that it languished while it was stored at the Moore School. In 1988, at the age of 83, Brainerd died.
In the spring of 1989 the Office of the Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science (successor to the Moore School and three others) transferred the collection to UARC. Technical services staff arranged and described these papers as the "ENIAC Papers, 1935-1973" collection (Accession number 89.90; collection classification number UPD 8). The run of exhibits at UARC is the largest and most nearly complete collection of ENIAC trial exhibits. The photocopied plaintiff’s exhibits are almost complete, lacking only the IBM exhibits and a small number of exhibits relating to the legal proceeding itself. Some of the IBM exhibits may be found in the HML collection, but none of the exhibits relating to the legal proceedings is contained in either of the other two collections. UARC’s defendants’ exhibits are also principally photocopies of the originals, but do include a substantial number of original exhibits, identified by the markers used by Court staff. UARC’s defendants’ exhibits also include a few original documents, such as the research notebooks of the Eckert-Mauchly computer company.
View this complete guide as a PDF file (85 kb, 25 pages)
Guide to the ENIAC Patent Trial Collection at the University of Pennsylvania Archives