| EMCC=>UNISYS |
Burroughs, etc. |
Milestones | Spinoffs
During our gathering of artifacts, articles, and career summaries
- some retirees and employees have offered personnel tidbits, some with
humor. These are captured hereunder for posterity.
Our staff always enjoyed an opportunity to smile or to laugh.
Even in our periodic newsletters, we often fill blank spaces at the
end of columns or pages with an occasional 'Lighter Side' quip
2. HSA Recollections
2.1 A first HSA story by Lowell Benson
In September 1970, Ernie Lantto led a Univac
team of Lowell Benson, Jim Gannon, Tom Kratz , and Al Rudman to Hengelo,
Holland to install and support the German Navy's Fast Patrol Boat software
development center in a Hollandse Signal Apparatan (HSA) facility. HSA
was the 'defense' organization of Phillips Global Techniques.
We installed and integrated two 1830B computers, 1840 magnetic tape
units - S/N 1 & 2 transports with S/N #1 controller, a 9300 printer/card
reader, and associated documentation. The adjacent programmers' room
housed our two American programmers, four French programmers, seven
German Navy programmers, and about two dozen Dutch programmers. Dick
Lundgren, Ron Trowbridge, and Rick Denson came a month later to conduct
Each week we Americans had a status meeting with the Dutch
management team. Whenever there was a sticky issue, the Dutch would
pause the meeting for a 'side-bar' in their language. Then they would
ask another question or give their decision about the issue.
Jim Gannon had been a German Language major
in college - Lowell Benson had learned to speak some German when with
the U.S. Army in Germany. Both had started studying the Dutch language
on their own time. After about six weeks the Univac team was a bit frustrated
with the Dutchmen's side-bar behavior.
So one evening Jim and Lowell wrote and
practiced a short script in Dutch, about an issue expected to come up
the next day. The issue arose, Jim said "just a minute!" then he and
I proceeded to speak our script to each other in Dutch. When done, we
switched back to English and said: "The answer is ...." The Dutch management
stared, gaped, then gasped: "You already speak our language?" They never
again held a 'sidebar' in Dutch during the weekly meetings! [lab]
2.2 Money Exchanging? by Richard 'Ole' Olson
As part of my transfer to the Univac International
Systems Division at Corporate Building C, under George Workman, I was
given a trip to Europe. This trip supported the sale of AN/UYK-7 and
AN/UYK-20 Military Computers to HSA a Division of Phillips. HSA was
on one of two German teams bidding for a German Navy Project. This trip
lasted 2 weeks ending just before Christmas. I knew that this was going
to be a difficult assignment when our German Marketing Man barely stayed
long enough for introductions to the eight Dutchmen with whom I would
They had a 3-foot pile of Univac documents which they had been
studying extensively. On the back of each document was written all pages
which had questions, several hundred in total [enough to fill 8 long
working days.] I was a relative expert on the AN/UYK-7, having started
programming on Serial Number zero. I was the Project Engineer for Common
Program, which later became the Standard U.S. Navy AN/UYK-7 Real Time
Multiprocessing Executive. I knew little about the AN/UYK-20, never
having programmed it. About 1/2 of the documents that I was to answer
questions about I had never seen. I decided immediately that my strategy
was to assume that the document was correct, and to challenge why they
thought that it was wrong. Whenever I challenged them, they went flying
through the documentation, which usually allowed me to see how to explain
it. I considered the trip a success, in spite of the contentious environment
because I came home with only 12 unanswered questions [6 of the 12 which
the author could not readily answer either.]
Due to a family emergency at home, I was late getting to HSA.
The very day that I arrived an HSA Executive called the German Prime
to complain that the Univac Engineer did not know anything. Fortunately
Jerry Meyer and John Spearing, Univac Executives who knew Ole, were
sitting in the German Prime's Office when the call came. After finding
out that Ole was there, they asked the German Prime to call HSA and
ask which questions that I could not answer. Problem was successfully
On the weekend, I decided visit Amsterdam. Holland is such a
small country that is was only a 2 hour drive from Hengelo [East central]
to Amsterdam (Northwest). Prior to leaving for Amsterdam, I went down
to pay for the duration of my hotel stay. The desk would not do it,
the safe was closed for the night. So I went to my room, hid enough
money to get out of town, and drove to downtown Amsterdam. The ring
of canals all look the same, so I could not find my car when it came
time to leave. I saw a policeman and told him that my car had been stolen.
The cop said: "Walk another hour looking for it, and if you don't find
it, I will help you". Well then I found it. When I looked for my money
stashed in my room, it was gone. I went down to the desk and berated
the desk help since that day was Christmas Eve Day. All they could say
was that you have to go to the Embassy. As I was walking away, a brown
skinned porter who had overheard the conversation came over to me [it
is now 3 a.m.] and said that if you come down at 8 a.m. I will get you
the money. I came down at 8 a.m. and he was no where to be seen. I asked
another brown skinned porter where he was. "He is upstairs with a bag,
he will be down shortly". I told him the situation, asking: "Why would
he loan me the money". He replied: "Not only that, he borrowed the money
from me." "Why would you loan him the money?" "He is my brother." "Why
would he loan me the money?" "He was a stranger here once too." Soon
he came down, loaned me the money, and I rushed to the airport the catch
my Christmas Eve plane home.
My wife watched as I wrapped $20 Bills in an envelope to
send to him. Don't you want to be sure that he gets it? If he does
not get this I will send him some more cash. Sure enough a letter came
later, thanking me for staying at his hotel and encouraging me to stay
there again. [OLE]
3. Musings by Jim Rapinac
3.1 Dog Robbers
Red Phillips had two 'dog robbers', Floyd Pnewski and Jerry Green,
who povided 'midnight supply' mechanical and electrical parts for use
by design engineers. You could always get a resistor, capacitor, or
connector from these two guys. They were a legend during the 60's and
70s. Jerry was heavy set and Floyd was skinny so Jerry would hoist Floyd
up on his shoulders so he could crawl over the manufacturing crib walls,
which at that time, did not go all the way to the ceiling. Many a computer
development schedule or an urgent field repair was completed on time
after Floyd and Jerry supplied the parts! Their careers and reputations
were curtailed after crib walls were extended to the ceiling. I am sure
someone remembers these Plant 2 DSD legends. I do but can't provide
many more details. Ed Nelson or Don Vizanko might have more info.
3.2 Gas Can
Dick Gehring, then Vice President & General Manager,
DSD, was forced into landing his Mooney aircraft in a field in Wisconsin
after running out of gas. At the annual Marketing Conference in San
Diego, 1969, I presented him a 5 gallon gas can at the awards banquet.
The guest speaker, Bob McDonald, didn’t understand the roars of
laughter from the crowd who knew about the emergency landing. Mr. Gehring’s
face turned beet red because he knew about the corporate rule that prohibited
senior executives from flying private aircraft. Being thrifty, Gehring
kept the gas can!
3.3 A true Ming Chang story
Admiral Ming Chang (ret.) was assigned to lead the Foreign
Military Sales (FMS) transfer of NTDS systems to the German Navy. Jerry
Meyers was assigned to travel with Chang and introduce him to German
Naval Officers in Wilhelmshaven. After initial introductions, two German
officers cornered Meyers privately and expressed concern at having to
work with a Chinaman. Jerry's response: "You said you wanted a Chinese
copy of NTDS so the U.S. Navy assigned a Chinese-American Admiral".
That ended the discussion!
3.4 Soapbox Derby Too
Univac sponsored soap box derby car wins the Long Island championship
and advances to the National Soap Box Derby Championships in Akron,
Ohio. Circa 1965
Univac supplied 1218 computers to PRD, Westbury, Long Island,
the prime contractor for the U.S. Navy VAST (Versatile Avionics Shop
Tester) system which was carrier based. Raleigh Strickland, PRD program
manager was the chairman of the Long Island Soap Box Derby Club and
he discovered that the wooden crates that the 1218 computers were shipped
in made excellent Soap Box Derby car frames and panels. Strickland asked
DSD marketing rep Jim Rapinac if he could buy five 1218 shipping crates.
Rapinac replied that DSD did not sell shipping crates and suggested
that if Strickland bought five 1218 computers that day, Univac would
sponsor Strickland's son's Soap Box Derby car. Rapinac, to the amazement
and chagrin of DSD marketing veterans, returned to St. Paul with a firm
The 1218 was supplied with a paper tape bootstrap but DSD charged
about $5K for an optional magnetic tape bootstrap. Strickland and his
engineers studied 1218 schematics and discovered that by connecting
two external test block points with a hair pin that the paper tape boot
strap would work as a magnetic tape boot strap. PRD Engineers
1, DSD Design Engineers 0!
3.5 Schmoozing with Lockheed
I was re-reading the Hargesheimer interview
and was amused by his comments that I was an MC at a Lockheed-Contractors
annual fishing trip banquet. For the record, these were always held
in Ensenada, Mexico, not Monterrey. The first trip began years ago with
Lockheed and their important F-104 program sub-contractors and continued
through the P-3 and S-3 programs. Pat Casey and others attended this
trip in recent years although I don't know if it is still ongoing.
At the 1968 or 1969 gaggle, Lockheed did ask me to MC the
awards banquet and they hired a Mariachi band who were behind me on
the stage. I told a couple of jokes, sang a few songs and then presented
the fishing contest prizes to the winners.
During this time Lockheed was close to bankruptcy so I closed with this
"I want to deny a vicious rumor that was being passed around the crowd
tonight. Sperry has no plans to buy the Lockheed Aircraft Company!"
I left the stage as the crowd jeered and gave me many index
finger gestures, all in good humor. [I thought!] It was a great trip
and a great night with good friends a lot of fond memories.
CIAO FOR NOW! RAPP
3.6 Certificate Awarded to Vern Leas
This is an award presented to Vern Leas was to commemorate the contract
for the CP-823U computer used in the ANEW P-3C development program.
This led to the development of hundreds of CP-901 production computers.
Navy Signers on the left were Bill Morris, NADC Anew Technical Manager,
Joe Kacergis, NADC Engineer and Bernie Zempolich, NAVAIR Computer Manager.
Univac signers were Avionics marketers Paul Hensel, and Jim Rapinac,
Randy Williams, Secretary, and Marwood Clement, Marketing Director.
The real story was that Vern had given an incorrect quote to the
Naval Air Development Center, Capt. Ed Skidmore, of $1 million for 2
computers. He had to call Skidmore to explain that the price quote should
have been $2 million for 1 computer. Somehow, Skidmore accepted Vern's
We were awarded a sole source contact at that price and the rest
Ciao for Now! Rapp
3.7 ANEW Mod 3
Bob Blixt and I wrote a song in 1964 called ‘A-New
We Love You’ which we sang at company dinners and at social evenings
with NADC and NAVAIR customers. Curt Nelson might recall the song. Bob
gave me a gold record plaque of this Univac hit song when I moved to
Salt Lake City in 1974.
A-New we love you
You sent all your money to St. Paul, (cost plus!)
A-New we love you, love you the best of them all
A-New you love us, we just don't really know why
Even after we delivered the 100 pound power supply!
We drive up 611
We're on our way to heaven
We get such a thrill
When we get to Johnsville
Sole Source is Easy Living
Just wish I could remember the other verses but it has been a long,
We also wrote a parody of ‘Green Green Grass of
Home’ called ‘Green Green Grass of Pax’, a song about
the Mod 3 flight test center at Patuxent River, MD. I forgot the words.
4. Recollections by John Alton
- 1104 Project – A mechanical engineer [name forgotten],
during a slow time for him, decided to compute how much was a fly
power. Flies were plentiful in the office area because of wide open
shipping doors and other openings. For example: people would dump
a 2 pound coffee can full of fly carcasses over a schematic on the
project engineer’s desk as a hint. This mechanical engineer
became an expert at catching flies in the air. He would use airplane
glue to attach a thread to the fly’s leg, release the fly,
and estimate the angle of thread dangle. The object was to use this
data in computing fly power. During the election campaign, he shortened
up the thread and attached a tiny scrap of paper to the end of the
thread with “I like Ike” written on it. Many flies made
it over the wall to entertain the assemblers working in the next
- 1104 Project - Same engineer surreptitiously soldered low value
resistors over a substantial voltage point on circuit development
breadboards while most all of the project people [as was their daily
habit] were in the Plant 2 cafeteria for coffee break. As the engineers
returned from coffee break and powered up their breadboards, he
would blow a giant puff of cigar smoke through a long plastic tube
that he had run from his desk to the circuits.
- Sea Surveillance Project: The Stromberg-Carlson engineers were
having trouble getting their displays to check out with our equipment.
They made a bet with Len Henrickson, our project administrator that
they would be home by Thanksgiving. When Len, and the rest of us,
returned to work after the holiday, there was the biggest, meanest
turkey tied by its leg with a rope to Len’s desk. The floor
was a slippery mess, and there was much discussion about how to
approach the turkey.
- I suspect others have reported how the water coolers were spiked
with gin at Christmas time.
5. Jerry Green's Legend:
Jerry Green was legendary as illustrated in these cartoons submitted
by Jeff Parker - received by him from a customer. Refer also to the
stories on this page by Markfelder, Rapinac, and Ole.
6. John Markfelder's Favorite
Jerry Green and Floyd Pnewski were helping Ernie Hams find parts
in plant five. The technicians and engineers started locking everything
well when they left their day work shift. One night they failed to lock
up but Green didn't notice it so as usual took the hinges off and this
big door fell on him. Pnewski asked why he took the hinges as it was
7. About John Markfelder:
As an aside, I remember when John was sent to Keflivek, Iceland to
solve a U1500 system problem. While there he bought a fur hat to keep
his head warm. During his return home he made a discovery. When the
temperature in the plane turned warm, John noticed that the fur hat
had a strange 'odor'. Apparently 'Salt' was in shortage in Iceland at
that time so the locals had used urine to cure the hides. [Lyle Franklin]
8. Marketing Stories by Lyle Franklin
On one occasion I was delegated to attend our annual Christmas party
held in Bethesda, Md. It was my first outing at this type of function.
After I arrived I was standing near the door talking to my fellow marketing
representatives, Jules Smith and Ray Smith. Just then a distinguished
looking gentleman and his bride entered. I was then introduced to Adm.
Sir Levering Smith and his wife. I took the opportunity to explain that
I was from St. Paul and that this was my first outing at this type of
function and didn't realize it was a wild party. Mrs. Smith then asked
why I said that and I explained, "Smith, Smith, Smith Smith, Franklin.
Am I the only one using my right name. With that she burst out in laughter
and granted me permission to call the Admiral "Rosie" and her "Boots".
I never did call him Rosie but twenty years later while at Naval Weapons
Center in China Lake, I was talking to Ed Romero. He was Caesar's younger
brother and a civilian scientist there. He mentioned he was headed to
San Diego to spend a weekend with the Levering Smiths. I took the liberty
of asking him to say hello to Rosie and Boots for me. He turned red
and told me he was not at liberty to call him Rosie.
Another occasion there was a black tie affair in DC - Howie Stenzil,
Contracts, Bill Kailey, Navy Systems and I in Marketing were selected
to represent DSD. As neither Bill nor I had ever attended a black tie
function, we asked Howie to make the arrangements. We went to the shop
and were measured and picked up the outfits before leaving St. Paul.
Upon our arrival in DC we opened the packages and found our outfits
came with blue paisley jackets. Our thoughts were that Howie with his
experience knew what we should wear. This affair was in the summer.
Upon our arrival the dress code was uniform summer whites and white
tux jackets. As we entered I heard one officer's wife comment to her
husband, "I thought you said there was going to be recorded music but
look - I think the band is arriving." As we knew no one there the tendency
was to stick together. However, after that overheard comment we agreed
to part and not get together until we left. Many years later I discovered
Howie had left the tux selection up to his secretary. She was from a
small town in rural Minnesota and blue paisley was in at her high school
Another memorable occasion was our first lobbying trip to DC for
the standard Navy mini procurement. The then CDR Hager was changing
the requirements. We had already made significant investment to meet
the 30 day delivery requirement. Dick Seaberg was VP Marketing. Don
Greenwalt was DC Marketing Director. The decision was made to call on
our senators and representatives and complain about our investment and
changes to the procurement package. I was instructed to prepare a white
paper. Fortunately our first meeting was with Sen. Bennett of Utah.
At that time SLC reported to St. Paul. We were greeted warmly as we
were the largest commercial employer in Utah. I went through the items
in the briefing paper and Dick amplified the importance of the program
to St. Paul and Salt Lake and our purpose was to inform the Senator.
With That Senator Bennett asked what we wanted him to do. He stated
he would do anything to help us as long as it was in his power and his
code of ethics. Again Dick stated we were there to inform him. With
that the Senator told us he would file the paper in his keep informed
drawer which he emptied every Friday. If there was something he should
do we should tell him. After departing his office a quick side meeting
involved what we should be asking our representatives to do.
In the early sixties I participated with the American Management
Association giving three and five day PERT Seminars. I was privileged
to meet their founder, Lawrence Apply. He stated that management was
the art of getting work done through people. He also stated that management
had the obligation to create the environment in which people would perform.
I was not too successful in doing this but I tried.
Mentioning the AMA I received a call from the AMA concerning a three
day PERT Seminar in New York City. My boss at the time was Sid Green
of Plans and Policies. Sid reported to Probst who led engineering. Sid
told me the budget could not support a trip so I advised AMA that I
had a funding problem. Their response was they would cover all expenses
and would send me a plane ticket. I agreed to do the seminar. They sent
me a first class Jet ticket, met me at the airport and took me to the
newly built Americana where my room was ready. Upon entering I found
a stocked bar as well as a refrigerator. From my window I could see
the Stage Door Deli. I lived on exotic sandwiches and good refreshments
for my time there.
After the seminar I was chauffeured to the airport where I checked
in early and wandered about. When I returned to the gate I witnessed
an uproar at the ticket counter caused by a very upset gentleman. He
recognized me and came over and started a conversation. It appears he
too had a first class ticket and all the seats were taken so he would
have to ride in the back of the plane. He did mention that if we were
close maybe we could sit together and talk. I did not offer to give
him my seat number. After he was on board then I boarded. As soon as
we landed I quickly exited. I wonder to this day if my career pattern
would have been different had I given Bob McDonald my first class seat.
9. Environmental Laboratory
I worked in the Environmental Test Laboratory run by Paul
Welshinger. I was a beginning technician working with Dick Roller and
Al Neiters. An initial job was to operate the shock testing machine
which lifted objects then dropped them into a sand pit. Space was at
a premium so some office desks were quite close. When I first dropped
the fixtures to the sand pit bottom, the person sitting close by jumped
about 3 inches. At another part of plant 2, George Zieski had a vibration
table which could hold an entire cabinet. After one test, they ended
up with dozens of loose screws, nuts, washers, and bolts at the base
of the tester.
An incident which I can't forget - There
were several hot laboratory ovens in our area, a very cute young naive
new secretary opened an oven, took out the components under test, and
inserted her noon pizza lunch - I wondered why I didn't see her any
more thereafter. Submitted by Ray Schleski.
10. NTDS Software Debugging
There were three of us with responsibility to develop automatic tracking
for NTDS: Ray Kot, Al Magnuson, and me Gerry Pickering. There was a
junior programmer or two in our tracking group, but it was the three
of us that carried the load. Al had been on the project the longest
so I guess he was sort of in charge of our group, and the group reported
to Dr. George Chapine. Our desks were on the second floor of Plant 2,
the old glider factory. The NTDS computer on which we worked was in
an adjacent building. Feeding the computer through a video processor
was a shipboard radar installed on Plant 2 premises.
It was in the middle of the night. We had our scheduled computer
time, always it seemed in the middle of the night. We had loaded our
program into the computer via the paper tape reader. The three of us
were gathered in front of the display watching the radar sweep, hoping
it would pick up a live track. And we could then determine if our program
acquired the target, and tracked it.
All of a sudden, a blip appeared, traveling at
an extremely high rate of speed. A very bright radar blip, impossible
to miss. And at that very high rate of speed, it suddenly did a right
angle turn, traveled in a straight path, and then another right angle
turn. Our program, which was designed to track speeds as high as Mach
3, locked on. The target was traveling at near Mach 3. But what was
it? It had to be an UFO. We started calling every radar site in the
proximity of Minneapolis/St. Paul. Nobody had the target on its radar.
We ran outside to see if a flying saucer or something was visible to
the naked eye.
Al, Ray, and I checked and double checked. What could
Oops. We had inadvertently forgot to turn
off the track generator which fed a signal to the video processor to
aid in debugging NTDS programs. Not having been set to generate a specific
target flight plan, the track generator was out of control, sending
sporadic signals of its own makings.
Though a little embarrassed, we had the satisfaction of knowing our
automatic tracking program could acquire and track anything those Russians
could throw at the Fleet. We were ready for Service Test. [Gerald Pickering]
11. The SHINPADS Demo by Ron Schroeder.
During the early 1980s, Sperry Univac received a contract from the
Canadian Government to build a Shipboard Integrated Processing And Display
System (SHINPADS). It was designed to integrate the ships combat system
as well as marine and administrative systems. The architecture of SHINPADS
was unique in that it was a triple-redundant bus design that provided
redundancy and system survivability.
Seizing the opportunity to
demonstrate the SHINPADS to the U.S. Navy as a candidate for future
U.S. Navy construction, the marketing department at Sperry Univac set
up an elaborate demonstration at plant 8. As a member of the Univac
product marketing team, I was to view the demonstration and take some
of the Navy participants to lunch. As the morning session of the demonstration
was concluding, I approached one of the engineers who was responsible
for the setting up the equipment and running the demo. Pointing to one
of the AN/UYK-502 computers I asked him what would happen if I switched
it on and off rapidly, thus simulating a power fluctuation or failure.
He replied that this was not a problem that the system would reconfigure
in a matter of seconds and go back into the operational mode. Of course
I couldn’t take his word for this, so I rapidly switched the computer
on and off and watched as the system faltered and fell into an extended
state of chaos. Feeling a sense of helplessness and having the common
sense to know when I am not wanted, I quickly exited the scene under
the glaring stares of several panicking field engineers.
extended lunch consisting of Dagwood Sandwiches and martinis with Roquefort
stuffed olives at the Parker House my customers and I returned to the
afternoon session of the demo. Using my customers as shield I attempted
to escape to the back of room unnoticed. Instead I was met by a couple
of the field engineers who quietly and quite tactfully told me that
they had spent the whole time that we were gone troubleshooting and
rebooting the system and that if I ever went near another piece of equipment
while they were around, it would be very unpleasant to say the least.
I believe somewhere there is a lesson in all of this, but I have never
been able to figure it out!