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Guide to the ENIAC Trial Exhibits
Master Collection, 1864-1973 [1938 - 1971 bulk]

UPD 8.12

211 Reels
Prepared by J.M. Duffin

Access to collections is granted in accordance with the Protocols for the University Archives and Records Center.


The ENIAC Trial Records Preservation Project is a combined collection of the plaintiff’s and defendants’ trial exhibits presented in the patent case of Honeywell Incorporated vs. Sperry Rand Corporation and Illinois Scientific Developments, Incorporated. The combined master collection that was microfilmed following the original order assigned by the court and the parties to the suit.  

The plaintiff’s trial exhibit represents the largest series. There are 27,259 exhibits, each exhibit numbered from 1 through 25686 (material that appears to have been inserted later was given a decimal number). The main portion plaintiff’s series is arranged chronologically beginning with Charles Babbage’s Passages From the Life of a Philosopher, published in 1864, exhibit number one, and ended with correspondence from 1971, exhibit number 21755. This arrangement reflected the chronological argument presented by the plaintiff's attorneys during the course of the trial. The remainder of the series contains a variety of undated material, supplementary and sometime duplicate documents, photographs, charts and models used during the trial.

As one can readily expect, the plaintiff’s trial exhibit series contains documents that supported the major claims of Honeywell Incorporated in their suit. It contains correspondence, research notes, scientific and publicity articles, schematic drawings, photographs and charts. There is large amount of documentation regarding the research and development of the ENIAC and subsequent computers developed by J. Presper Eckert, Jr., and John W. Mauchly up to around 1951. Most of the material covering period after 1950 relates to the Sperry Rand’s efforts to finalize the patent for the ENIAC and to assert its rights to the major technological claims therein (to support Honeywell’s claims of antitrust actions). Honeywell, as the plaintiff, presented material that demonstrated the state of computer research undetaken by others such as Vannevar Bush and Samuel H. Caldwell at MIT, Vladimir Zworykin and Jan Alesander Rajchman at RCA, and Joseph R. Desch and Robert E. Mumma at National Cash Register Company. Their most important presentation related to the research of John Vincent Atanasoff at Iowa State College and the degree of contact and exchange between Mauchly and Atanasoff. Honeywell also submitted copies of the testimony and depositions of a number of the key figures in the development of the ENIAC and early computers that had be presented in other patent infringement cases.

There are number of large gaps (4,250 exhibits) in the collection that could not be filled with the material from the three participating institutions. Only 940 exhibits from this missing group could be identified from the surviving trial exhibit lists. Many of these exhibits were documents related to the IBM and may have either been removed after the trial or never submitted. It also appears that many of this missing exhibits may have been trial exhibit numbers that were never used but were simply set aside to facilitate the insertion of new material when needed.

The defendants’ trial exhibit series contains 7,167 exhibits, each numbered 1 through 6973, and is about a quarter of the size the plaintiff’s series. Unlike the plaintiff’s trial exhibits, the defendants’ chose to submit material in subject groupings. With Honeywell presenting most of the documents regarding the development of the ENIAC, Sperry Rand’s documents which form the defendants’ trial exhibit series related to specific points that they chose to argue in support of their claims to the patent rights of the ENIAC. Without the attorney’s guide to the organization of this material, it is difficult to determine with certainty the exact limits or descriptions of the subject groupings that form the defendants’ exhibit series. The series does appear to cover many of the same topics present in the plaintiff’s exhibits, as evidenced by the large amount of duplication exhibits. The series begins with copies of the complete United States Patent Office file for the ENIAC patent. There is a heavy concentration of secondary source material, in the form of copies of patents and articles from scientific and technical journals. All contents of this series generally falls within the date span of 1930 to 1965. The series does include correspondence, drawings, research notes, and reports; however, a large portion of the series contains published material such as journal and magazine articles, patents, technical reports and computer manuals. There is much more material in this series that relates to the internal organization, development and research of the Eckert Mauchly Computer Company.

There are also large number (1,042) of missing exhibits which could not be located in the contributing collections. These exhibits appear to fall mostly in the range from exhibits numbered 2566 to 3358. It is possible that some of the missing exhibits were copies of the design and final drawings of the ENIAC. The only missing exhibits that could be identified from original cross-reference sheets in the file were 123 research notebooks. The descriptions provided on the original cross-reference sheets, however, were nothing more than "Original Notebook." All of the other surviving trial exhibits, which were research notebooks and located near the missing ones indicated that the missing notebooks were probably documenting the research and development undertaken by the Eckert Mauchly Computer Company. In an effort to attempt to locate this valuable material, it was decided to create a new section at the end of the defendants’ trial exhibit series that included the surviving research notebooks from the Eckert and Mauchly Computer Company archives that now form a portion of the Sperry Corporation, Univac Division Records at Hagley. These original notebooks were assigned letters (from A to M) rather than numbers, to distinguish them from the known defendants’ trial exhibit numbers.

Virtually the entire body of documents presented by both parties is composed of photocopies of original documents. The exceptions to this are many of the printed materials, such as patents, articles, books and computer manuals. There were only a few exhibits that were original manuscript material. Part of this latter group include some research notebooks. During the creation of the master collection for microfilming, it was determined that many of copies of the original research notebooks of the ENIAC used as exhibits were poor and illegible. Because the significance of these notebooks not only to the court case but also to the research community, it was decided to substitute for the poor photocopies the original research notebooks from the records of the School of Engineering and Applied Science in the University Archives and Records Center of the University of Pennsylvania. There were also a few other instances in which original material was taken directly from the UARC collections to replace poor photocopies of important documents. Because of the size of this collection, however, the substitution of originals was limited to only the most important documents that could be readily obtained.

The researcher should be well aware of the fact that this entire collection consists mostly of photocopies not original documents. Because many of the copies were poor or deteriorating, the text can be partially or totally illegible in some documents. The original document may still survive it may be difficult to locate if it is still in the hands of the corporation or institution which allowed it to be copied for the trial. The best possible copy of the trial exhibit was chosen from the collections of the three contributing institutions.