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Information Technology Pioneers

Retirees and former employees of Unisys, Lockheed Martin, and their predecessor companies

Home | Legacy Anthology* | People | Engineering | Systems | Computers | Locations | Our Stories | Exhibit Sites | Retirees' Club | Contacts and Links |

*58 topical chapters.

Chapter 11 updated 10/20/17, was page 19.

In this Chapter

Click/tap to scroll down:

Lawshe Memorial Museum, South Saint Paul


Unisys, Eagan


Charles Babbage Institute, Minneapolis


Minnesota Historical Society Museum, Saint Paul


Other Museums

Legacy Exhibits

When the Legacy Committee began in 2005, one of our long term objectives was to find a permanent place to display our artifact collection. We found it in 2011 when the Lawshe Memorial Museum agreed to accept donation of our artifacts and to establish a permanent exhibit. Thanks to VIP Club member emeriti Bernie Jansen and Millie Gignac who worked with then Dakota County Historical Society (DCHS) Director, Chad Roberts to get the 'ball rolling'. Bernie and Millie were also DCHS trustees thus knew the people who could make the decisions. The VIP Board and Legacy Committee are forever grateful for the hundreds of hours which John Westergren put in to arrange for the transfer of the artifacts collected over 7 years from retirees and stored at the Eagan, LMCO facility between 2007 and 2012.

There were already two small 'artifact' display sites in Minnesota; at the UNISYS, Roseville facility and at the Minnesota Historical Society's St. Paul Museum. Neither was positioned to become a permanent exhibit location. Our archive advisor, Charles Babbage Institute, only accepts two dimensional objects thus by policy couldn't do permanent hardware displays.

We are aware of a few other museums which have one or two items displayed. We are including links to those other facilities hereunder as we indeed appreciate their preservations of our Legacy.

1.0 Lawshe Memorial Museum - S St Paul, MN

The Realization of a Dream article relates the history of the beginning of the exhibit(s) at this museum.  With over 1,000 artifacts this may be the worlds largest collection of defense industry hardware artifacts that range from individual Printed Cards to operator workstations to full sized processors. .

The Dakota County Historical Society had a grant from the state of Minnesota to solicit exhibit ideas and down select from those ideas to develop specific history poster board topics. Keith Myhre developed the original listing of history topics in section 3.1, ..., 3.5 below. Over a dozen exhibit posters were developed under this grant during 2014/15. Within the listing are links to those poster pdf files or to pages on this web site which provide expanded topic details or links to this web site's legacy stories.

An upstairs multi-purpose room in the room has a suite of five workstations where Club volunteers are working to catalogue some ~20,000 photos, slides, and films. There is also a small collection of documents and books available for researchers to peruse during business hours.

2.0 “The Birth of Minnesota’s Computer Industry – A Photo Essay”

The displays are and will be located around the periphery of the Museum's Great Hall as shown in a preliminary set-up in this photo.

The topics listed below have links to storyboard posters developed by volunteers at the Lawshe Memorial Museum as well as this site's articles about the topics.

2.1 Company History

  1. How/why ERA was formed [poster #1]
  2. Evolution of Twin Cities operations from ERA to Unisys/Lockheed Martin [poster #16]
  3. “The Original Geek Squad
  4. Spin-off companies
  5. Well known people who began their career at ERA/Univac (potential candidates): a. Seymour Cray, b. Bill Norris, c. Erwin Tomash, d. Bob McDonald, e. Dr. Sid Rubens, g. Arnold Cohen h. Jack Hill, and i. Frank Mullaney.
  6. Fred Hargesheimer Story
  7. Land of 10,000 engineers: UNIVAC and the University of Minnesota. [poster #4]

2.2 Company Facilities

  1. Twin Cities buildings used by ERA to Unisys/Lockheed Martin [poster #7]
  2. U.S. Navy office & personnel at Plant 2 in St. Paul [poster #2]
  3. Evolution of employee offices/workspaces over the decades
  4. Remote U.S. Facilities
  5. Foreign Facilities
  6. Marketing(Washington, DC)

2.3 Employees

  1. Employee Relations/Human Resources changes over the years: a. Hiring practices, b. Benefits, c. Starting wages
  2. Company supported community activities: a. Winter Carnival, b. Aquatennial, and c. United Way
  3. Company supported employee social activities: a. Softball, b. Football, c. Basketball, d. Ski club, e. Bowling, and f. Camera club
  4. Business attire over the decades
  5. Company/Union history over the decades

2.4 Technology

  1. Evolution of Univac/Unisys commercial computers
  2. Evolution of military computer family [poster #9]
  3. Semiconductors at Univac: [poster #13] Resource: Mike Svendsen Legacy Paper & Larry Bolton paper.
  4. Evolution of software:
    • Binary - Assembly language - Compilers:
    • Assemblers, Compilers
  5. Commercial languages adapted for DoD use
  6. Structured software development process

2.5 Products/Systems/Applications/Departments

3.0 Unisys, Eagan Minnesota

Sperry-UNIVAC in Roseville had an earlier sense of history in the 80s, thus began to illustrate computer technologies with a series of wall mounted shadow box displays.  Harry Smuda [Management] and Dick Petschauer [Engineering] led the creation of these shadowboxes.  After the Burroughs buyout of Sperry in 1986; the resulting UNISYS Company kept the displays - adding to them as new commercial computer systems were developed in the 90s.  During the summer of 2017, UNISYS management moved the shadowboxes from Roseville to Eagan the summer to preserve our history. 

Unisys Roseville was in operation 1964 to 2017. Unisys Eagan opened in 1987, consolidating several Sperry and Burroughs Twin Cities facilities in this facility on Pilot Knob Road.  Our thanks to retirees LeRoy Larson and Tom Curie who volunteered their time to refurbish the wood frames of the shadowboxes before they were mounted on the walls of the Eagan facility.

We celebrated the transfer of the Shadowboxes with an Open House and Legacy display on September 13, 2017 - Through the Ages.  The first box in the picture at the left includes a pluggable vacuum tube chassis from the ERA/UNIVAC 1103. Mike Svendsen and Lowell Benson have documented the details of these boxes. The first has the 1953 1103 computer components, including a vacuum tube logic module.  There is also one of these modules available for closer inspection in storage at the Lawshe Museum.

A second set of shadowboxes displays the systems developed during the 80s; focusing on some of the micro-technologies employed and technology from our Semi-Conductor facility in Eagan - Click here for detail pictures and descriptions of these seven shadowboxes [FY-79 through FY-85.]  When Burroughs bought Sperry to form UNISYS, management decided to close the Eagan Semi-Conductor facility thus the FY micro-technology developments and shadowbox technologies ended.   

4.0 Charles Babbage Institute, Minneapolis Minnesota

Although CBI is the major repository of our collected documents [we've sent them over 1,000], a photo on the wall of their main office [left] is a drum memory collage showing various steps of the drum manufacturing as well as various sizes of drums. The smallest was an airborne 2052 processor memory - being held in the engineer's hands. This collage is about 4' x 7', originally hanging on the office wall of Bill Norris' ERA/UNIVAC St Paul office.

When Mr. Norris left UNIVAC with others to found Control Data Corporation; plant maintenance cleaned out his office - giving the collage to Don Weidenbach, the young engineer shown kneeling in the picture.

After being in Don's home office for over 50-years, Don donated the collage [right] to the Charles Babbage Institute - Dr. Tom Misa, Director of CBI [2006-17], is shown accepting the collage on behalf of CBI. An interesting part of our legacy is that the CBI Director holds the Engineering Research Associates Land Grant Chair for the History of Technology at the University's College of Science and Engineering.

The Babbage Institute is located at 222 21st Ave S #221, Minneapolis, MN 55455. For more information, see http://www.cbi.umn.edu/


5.0 Minnesota Historical Society Museum, St. Paul Minnesota Prototype Drum

This facility has the original drum memory prototype [left], the great grandfather of today's computer hard drives.  In 2006, Dick Lundgren and Don Weidenbach met with then archivist Matt Anderson, and convinced Matt to make this drum prototype a part of the Greatest Generation exhibit.  Another part of that exhibit was the story of an early lady programmer, Jane Pejsa.

Although not confirmed, MHSM may have an operator/maintenance console/panel from a UNIVAC II - used in the ERA/UNIVAC plant in the early 50's as St. Paul engineers developed a the UNIVAC II core memory for the Blue Bell headquarters.


This museum is located at 345 W. Kellogg Blvd. St. Paul, MN 55102.

Their website is http://www.minnesotahistorycenter.org/exhibits


6.0 Museums Away from Minnesota

Our traveling retirees have seen UNIVAC/Sperry/UNISYS 'relics' in several other cities including a Dulles Airport extension of the Smithsonian. The facilities listed hereunder contain one or more hardware artifacts.

6.1 Computer History Museum

The world's largest history museum for the preservation and presentation of artifacts and stories of the Information Age located in the heart of Silicon Valley; Computer History Museum. It is located at 1401 N. Shoreline Blvd Mountain View, CA 94043. They have a number of artifacts from Univac including a 642B computer as part of their NTDS exhibit.

The Computer History Museum offers a wide variety of information, exhibits, research and a rich library of multimedia content garnered from some of the most influential people of the computing era. Take some time to dig deeper into computing history and the one-of-a-kind information available here. There's something for everybody, they have an extensive set of history videos, http://tcm.computerhistory.org/videos.html .

6.2 USS Midway Museum

The USS Midway Museum is located at 910 North Harbor Drive, San Diego, California, 92101, alongside the Navy Pier; http://www.midway.org/.

From Craig Neudahl: While on board the Midway Museum tour this month I saw some familiar things from my past. I hired in at plant 1 to build the UYK-20's.

The S-3A Viking computer [AN/AYK-10, Sperry type 1832] was a co-project on the same test floor.
[snapshots taken 12/24/2015, posted 1/4/2016]

 

6.3 American Computer and Robotics Museum

This museum is located in Bozeman, MT. Their website is http://www.compustory.com/.
MT has acquired the UNIVAC 418-II that was used in Houston during the Apollo Moon Missions at the Mission Control Center. It was implemented along with the three UNIVAC 493 computers for the reception of the telemetry data prior to it being passed on to the IBM 360s on the other side of the room.

6.4 Vintage Computer Federation (See www.vcfed.org for details. )

Vintage Computer Federation –We were Mid-Atlantic Retro Computer Hobbyists (MARCH) from 2004-2015. That group was just a computer club. In 2015, we disbanded and reformed as a national non-profit, the Vintage Computer Federation (VCF), which obtained 501(c)3 status. VCF then formed a Mid-Atlantic chapter to replace the old hobbyists group. The VCF local chapter operates as before, however the national organization is doing far more activities. For example, we acquired the Vintage Computer Festival West (to supplement our existing Vintage Computer Festival East), and we also acquired Vintage Computer Forum which is our hobby's largest discussion site. We have many other goals for 2017 and beyond -- incubate new chapters, restore more systems, and so on.

Our museum group in NJ has a Univac 1219B - This suite of equipment came from Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, where it was used to develop software for the Terrier Surface Missile System.

  • We recently started doing some real work on it. Specifically, we made progress on a paper tape I/O console. Next, we're having power circuits installed to let us run the CPU and tape drive via its motor generator.
  • We also want to build custom forklift pallets, do some cosmetic restoration, and build a modern educational exhibit for the systems.

To accomplish this (and other projects related to our organization overall), we're hoping to raise $5,000 -- one dollar for each calculation per second performed by the original ENIAC. The fundraising page is http://vcfed.org/wp/contribute/ and, of course, it's tax-deductible. Thank you,
Evan Koblentz; Director, Vintage Computer Federation, a 501(c)3 educational non-profit

The museum is part of the Info-Age Science History Museum and National Historic Landmark.  Information Age Learning Center (InfoAge) is located at the old Camp Evans base in Wall, New Jersey which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

  • InfoAge has an educational mission and its member groups in addition to having unique exhibits are also working to preserve Camp Evans for future generations.

    The location is being developed as a Science Museum and repairs to its buildings are in progress to allow expansion of the Museum.

    You are invited to join this excellent work to save history, honor the communication pioneers of wireless, WWI, WWII, space exploration and the cold war.

  • InfoAge the Science Museum, is a continuation of Camp Evans being a home to new and different organizations.
  • The Information Age Learning Center (InfoAge)received a General Operating Support grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State.

VCF East 7.0 - Computer Development at UNIVAC and Unisys - Al Rollin and Joe LaViola [Both are/were UNISYS Blue Bell Retirees' Group board members.]