Download PDF by David E. Lundstrom: A few good men from Univac

By David E. Lundstrom

During this own memoir, electric engineer David Lundstrom remembers the heyday of early computing, the increase of keep watch over facts out of the Univac department of Sperry Rand, such milestone desktops because the Univac and the Naval Tactical information procedure the exploits of CDC's most sensible fashion designer Seymour Cray, and the slow company shift from the interesting and technically attention-grabbing global of computing device layout to inner politics and clumsy forms. - writer.  Read more...

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To return to the story of th e NTDS development a gre at rumor soon spread th rough the hallways: Univac had been awarded a $50 million contract to develop a" service test' system based on a new shipboard dig ital computer] This meant that the computers and re lated periphe ral equipmen t would move out of th e laborat ory, be manufactured in small quantities, installed aboard Navy ships, and evaluated und er act ual operating conditions. If the evaluations were successful th e equipmen t would presumably be supplied to the entire fleet!

ERA Division now compo unded the probl em of communicati ons by opening a brand new headquarters plan t on West ith Street in St Paul on the east bank of the Mississippt Rive r. Our Univac II production group was 22 On Technology and Geography to move to the new plant and assemble the first five produ ction computers there; Ward Lund's development group was to remain in the old glider factory. This five- mile gap appe ared trivial when compared to the thousand-mile Philadelphia--St Paulabyss,but it contributed its share tothe future problems, Facilities in the new plant were almost as spartan as those in the old plant True, I could now look out a window (when they were washe d, which occurred infreq uen tly) at a view of the parking lot, but the floors were still bare cement except for the exec utive offices in the front of the plant One definite impr ovement was the presence of a small bar and steak house next door.

Mixed in with this attitude was a usually unspoken resentment of IB~fs East Coast Ivy League image. Nearly all the engineers at ERA were graduates of midwestern state universities. A statement often heard in one form or another was: "They [1B~1] think that we are a bunch of dumb farmers out here; we'll show theml" This attitude certainly extended upstairs to Bill Norris, as a later chapter will show. A better, more unifying factor for Univac would be hard to find Even the long-standing Philadelphia-St Paul feud would be forgotten in our eagerness to beat IBM to the market with a new product The Eckert-Mauchly people told the story, believed atthe time, that IB~l had pretty much ignored the electronic computer, considering it to be a toy for government-funded laboratories.

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