The Sperry Corporation received patent number 4,558,302 on December 10, 1985 for its patent describing “High Speed Data Compression and Decompression Apparatus and Method.” The patent expires twenty years from the date of application, June 20, 1983.
The patent describes a compression algorithm known commonly as LZW after its inventors, Abraham Lempel, Jacob Ziv, and Terry Welch. (Welch alone is listed as the inventor on patent 4,558,302, though this work was derived from an earlier patent which names Lempel and Ziv as well.)
Sperry merged with Burroughs Corporation in 1986 to form the Unisys Corporation. Unisys retained all of Sperry’s patents, including LZW, which it will continue to hold until the patent’s expiration in 2003.
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