Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Unisys Corporation is a provider of information technology services and solutions with operations across the world. The company is also involved in the design and manufacture of information systems equipment and other related hardware.
It was formed in September 1986 through the merger of the mainframe corporations Sperry and Burroughs, with Burroughs buying Sperry for $4.8 billion. The name was chosen after an internal competition. The merger was the largest in the computer industry at the time and made Unisys the second largest computer company, with income of $10.5 billion. In 1988 the company acquired Convergent Technologies, and their innovative CTOS.
As of 2004, Unisys is involved in the production of the Unisys ES7000 family of midrange to high-end servers. This server family uses Intel processors such as Xeon or Itanium. The server runs Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Novell Linux, Red Hat Linux, and Sun Solaris 10. It is also one of the most popular players in the 4 to 32 way server market in businesses and governments, particularly in Europe, India, and China. The company also has a low end line and a mainframe line, Clearpath . Clearpath is capable of running, not only mainframe software, but both the Java platform as well as the .NET platform.
The majority of Unisys revenues, though, are from services and solutions.
Unisys is perhaps better known for its single patent on the LZW algorithm than for any other reason. The algorithm is used in the GIF file format. At the end of December 1994, CompuServe and Unisys announced that the U.S. patent which Unisys holds for the LZW compression algorithm would be enforced for GIFs: all commercial programs capable of producing GIF files would be required to pay a license fee to Unisys. By this time, GIF was in such widespread use that most companies producing these programs had little choice but to pay up. These problems led to the development of the PNG format, which has become the third common image format on the Web. In late August 1999, Unisys terminated its royalty-free LZW technology licenses for free software and non-commercial proprietary software and even for individual users of unlicensed programs, prompting the League for Programming Freedom to launch the Burn All GIFs campaign to inform the public of the alternatives. The patent expired on June 20, 2003 in the United States.
Unisys was the target of Operation Ill Wind, a major corruption investigation in the mid- to late-1990s. A number of employees were imprisoned as a result.
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