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Voting machines

Computers have influenced our elections for a long time:

There was another election season, back in 1952, when a presidential contest seemed too close to call, America worried it was vulnerable to attack, and a single company dominated computing.

Those circumstances set the stage for the election night dramatics of the Univac - perhaps the most significant live TV performance ever by a computer. It might just be technology’s equivalent of the first Elvis appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. Except parents didn’t worry that computers were going to destroy the moral fiber of the nation’s youth, which shows you how much parents know.

In a few hours on Nov. 4, 1952, Univac altered politics, changed the world’s perception of computers and upended the tech industry’s status quo. Along the way, it embarrassed CBS long before Dan Rather could do that all by himself.

The Republican candidate was Dwight Eisenhower. The Democrat, Adlai Stevenson. Polls showed them in a dead heat.

Their most pressing issue: an epic global struggle between democracy and communism. The Korean War had begun two years before. Joseph McCarthy’s Red Scare was in full swing, aimed at alleged communists. Several nations were testing nuclear bombs. In Denmark, George “Christine” Jorgensen had the first sex-change operation.

No telling which of those most horrified Americans.

Yahoo! News - In ‘52, huge computer called Univac changed election night