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Information Technology (IT) Pioneers

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

Home - Pg 1 | Legacy Anthology* |

ERA=>LMCO, Chapter 2;  EMCC=>UNISYS, Ch3; Burroughs, RCA, etc., Ch 4; Milestones, Ch 5; Spinoffs,  Ch 6; Artifacts, Ch 7; and  Mementos. Ch 8.

People, Ch 10 | Locations, Ch 30 | Engineered, Ch 40 | Computers, Ch 50 | Systems, Ch 60 | Exhibits, Ch 90 | Stories, Ch 100 | Contacts & Links | Site Map, Pg 0

Chapter 1 updated 4/10/2021.

   *60 topical history chapters.

We proudly fly the American Flag above our chapters; thanks to usfamily.net for the image. 

In this Chapter

Committee

Anthology

Success Log

Thank You

Acronyms

Our Legacy Chapters

    Our Legacy theme consists of People at Locations in the Minnesota and throughout the world who Engineered Computers and Systems. The 'Exhibit Sites' and 'Our Stories' chapters complement and supplement the Legacy theme of this site. These 60 chapters are an on-going web site anthology, now a 15+ year innovative approach to document and publicize our Information Technology (IT) industry pioneering history from 1946 at ERA, continuing yet today. The Site Map, page 0 has a Table of Contents.   
    Background: In late 2005, Lockheed Martin Corporate (LMCO), motivated by the realization that their current company was created from over 20 predecessors, asked their operating units to “capture their legacy” .  At LMCO in Eagan Minnesota, Ole (Dick) Olson was tasked to respond; he formed an ad hoc group of employee volunteers and then contacted the VIP Club Board to form a corporate and retirees Legacy Committee. Anthology editor Lowell benson volunteered to co-chair the committee with Ole.
    In November 2007, Harvey Taipale wrote: "The committee quickly realized that the history of Engineering Research Associates (ERA), continuing to the present, was a remarkable story of technological innovations and contributions to the computer industry in general and specifically Minnesota.  This story, particularly the early years, has never really been completely told; e. g. the ATHENA computer launched over 300 missiles at the beginning of the space age - with never an abort caused by the computer system!
    To be sure, there are some accounts written from the business history perspective, from various customer and user perspectives, and partial documentation in many places.  However; we are unaware of any account, which properly gives credit to the ingenuity, vision, and hard work of ERA and its successor company employees, and their contributions to Minnesota and the world.  The legacy committee feels that it would be a terrible loss not to capture the full history, thus inspiring our efforts to determine just what can be accomplished.  There is a bit of urgency, as the memories and materials relating to ERA are rapidly disappearing .  Our pioneers are dying, successor corporations are shredding records, and memories are fading." 
In 1986
, a 11.5 minute Sperry video looked back at 40 years of history that included the world's first hard-drives and the beginning of the ERA/UNIVAC/Sperry/Unisys 1100 commercial computer series.
In 2009, Dr. Tom Misa did a one-hour overview, Watch Minnesota's Hidden History of Computing Origins, ERA. Keith Myhre digitized these videos for the club. [4/10/21]

A Google Search Box is provided for your use in searching our 60 Legacy chapters.

Committee

The committee began at the October 2005 VIP Club board meeting. Ole [Richard D. Olson] representing Lockheed Martin Corporation (LMCO) and Lowell Benson representing the Club volunteered to be co-chairs.  Dick Lundgren immediately volunteered to support the committee.  Then Dick made arrangements for us to meet with Dr. Norberg at the Charles Babbage Institute.  Dr. Norberg told us that we should do oral interviews and that if we could get 200 mini-bios from people we would have told 'The Story'.  Ole said that he would solicit product/systems development stories and mini-bios.  Lowell started a web site in March 2006 to make the stories and mini-bios public.  Dick Lundgren said that he would help write and edit stories.  The Legacy Committee and project set three priority objectives:

  • to capture whatever remaining material and information we can,
  • to catalog and archive all the material collected, and
  • to publish/publicize our history and heritage in a way that interests others within our industry and our fellow Minnesotans.

Our Committee volunteers have given countless hours over the years: Lowell Benson - Engineering Manager; Bill Bergen - Systems Engineer; Larry Bolton - Component Engineer; Millie Gignac - Human Resources Director; Dick Lundgren - Instructor/Writer; Tom Montgomery, Systems Engineer; Keith Myhre - Systems Engineer & Marketing Manager;  Les Nelson - Systems Engineer; Bob Pagac - Program Manager; Jon Simon - Systems Engineer; Ron Q. Smith, UNISYS Fellow; Mike Svendsen - VP of Procurement and Semiconductor Development; Harvey Taipale - Engineering Manager; Earl Vraa - Engineering Manager; Don Weidenbach, ERA Engineer & Manager; and John Westergren, Program Manager.

We've had steadfast archiving support and guidance; first from Dr. Norberg, then for over a decade from Dr. Thomas Misa, and now Dr. Jeffrey Yost and the staff at the Charles Babbage Institute (CBI) at the University of Minnesota.  Appropriately, the CBI Director holds the Engineering Research Associates Land Grant Chair for the History of Technology position endowed by private donations.

Sadly, many of our contributors have passed away during this Legacy initiative: Warren Becker, Warren Burrell, Quint Heckert, Bernie Jansen, Bill Klingner, Tricia Myhre, Edwin Nelson, Richard 'Ole' Olson, Jim 'Rapp' Rapinac, Jack Sater, Marc Shoquist, Tom Turba, Harry Weis, Paul Welshinger, ...

Legacy Anthology Chapters by Retirees, et al'

 Foremost throughout this Legacy are the people; most now enjoying retirees' camaraderie; others still working at UNISYS, LMCO, and other high-tech companies in Minnesota and throughout the world; and many customers/users who have found our site and made contributions.  
   During our Legacy, a few management and engineering personnel left to form other companies (chapter 6-spin offs), most notable was the 1957 creation of Control Data Corporation (CDC) led by Bill Norris, et al'.  Seymour Cray joined him, then later left CDC to establish the the super computer company 'Cray'.  This site mentions those computer industry pioneers but does not detail their careers outside of this ERA Legacy.  Several threads weave their way through these corporate ownerships:

  • People Performing in Partnership with customers to solve complex system information and control problems!
  • A resilient cadre of management and engineering personnel, some with military training/experiences, applied to understanding the problems facing government and business customers.
  • Systems for processing of real-time signals and data from radar, sonar, satellites, and other sensor sources to provide users with operational information and action options.
  • Computer Instruction Set Architectures (ISA) normalized over several product line generations.
  • Availability of technology researchers and new graduates from the world-class Institute of Technology [now the College of Science and Engineering' (CSE)] at the University of Minnesota (U of MN) and other Midwest colleges.

When we eventually write a book, because of the physical size, i.e. printed page count, we may have to publish the history as volumes.

  • People - Over 250 project experiences and career summaries from and or about the people who have experienced parts of this Legacy.
  • Engineered - Our designs transition all electronic generations; vacuum tubes, transistors, integrated circuits, application specific integrated circuits, and embedded micro-processors. We've included Software, Field Service, Training, Antenna Couplers, Patents, Peripherals, and Interfacing chapters or subsections.
  • Computers - The world's first stored-program cryptography computer shipped to a customer in October 1950, aerospace computers, Navy shipboard computers, airborne search computers, ..., embedded micro-processors - we've done all of them.
  • Systems -Aerospace, Airborne, Naval Tactical Data Systems, Air Traffic Control, Marine Systems, Air Force, ASOC, Government, and Commercial since the File Computer systems in the 50s. This century, people would just call them apps.
  • Locations - Not only the Twin Cities of Minnesota, but facilities throughout the U.S. and a few overseas sites. Marketing Offices, Technical Services Division (TSD), Canada, etc.  Operations at these sites have yet to be fully documented.
  • Exhibits - In January 2013 the Dakota County Historical Society's Lawshe Memorial Museum became the repository and displayer of artifacts collected by the committee since 2006.  This chapter also provides information about other displays of ERA/UNIVAC/Sperry/UNISYS/ equipments at museums throughout the United States.
  • Our Stories - Since April 2007 we have been soliciting, editing, and posting stories as the 'Article for the Month'.  Some are technology tidbits, some are committee status summaries, a few are duplication of other publications from other organizations used with permission, and some developed in response to questions posed by people who have browsed our site pages/chapters.
  • Contacts and Links - Many web sites provide heritage related information.  Also, we have provided links to a few 'educational' sites for youth who want to have Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) careers. 

No, we did not created a Blog nor Facebook nor Tweet nor a Wiki-pedia section because we want to assure accuracy of information, identify of the source of information, and to integrate with inputs from others.  We continue to welcome reader inputs, i.e. additions or corrections.

Legacy Project Successes

  • Significant support of the development of the documentary Solid State: Minnesota's High-Tech History.  Thanks to TPT's Kevin Dragseth - eight legacy committee members were interviewed and appear in the documentary. Committee advisor, Dr. Tom Misa, is the primary narrator in the video.
  • Supported devellopment of an ERA History video then posted a summary list of YouTube links to the videos from Mark Greenia, Director of the Computer History Archives Project
  • From the CBI Fall 2018 newsletter:  "Over the past year Charles Babbage Institute staff, a University of Minnesota History of Science, Technology, and Medicine (HSTM) doctoral student and an HSTM postdoc collaborated with the Minnesota High Technology Association, the Dakota County Historical Society, Twin Cities Public Television (the local PBS affiliate), the VIP Club (a local IT retirees group), and industry veterans (especially Rich Daly and Dale Weeks), to conduct a major research and public history project on computing history in Minnesota. This has been a very rewarding partnership, and we have just completed this important one-year project, funded by the state of Minnesota through the program, which is administered by the Minnesota Historical Society."
  • September 2017, we celebrated transfer of the UNISYS shadowboxes from the closing Roseville facility to the UNISYS Eagan facility.
  • We celebrated completion of two grant initiatives at the Lawshe Memorial Museum with open houses exhibiting the artifacts.
  • Our volunteers helped DCHS personnel write grant proposals to Minnesota's State Legacy Preservation committees. Then we provided about 500 hundred volunteer hours over three years performing on those grants.
  • December 2012, transferred all hardware artifacts to the Dakota County Historical Society's Lawshe Memorial Museum in South St. Paul, MN - special thanks to John Westergren who arranged the move and LMCO shipment cost coverages.
  • Gathered over 300 topical articles and career summaries for web site use.
  • Conducted oral/video interviews with about three dozen retired persons.
  • Gathered numerous documents from retirees.
  • Cataloged 40 boxes of patent dockets before transferring them to the Charles Babbage Institute.
  • Published "The Fred Hargesheimer Story." for local distribution and web viewing - thanks to Ed Nelson.
  • March of 2007, transferred all collected articles and career summaries from Lowell Benson's personal web site to the VIP Club's new web site.
  • Created new computer genealogy charts from old combined and defense charts plus modern information - see computers' chapters.
  • Ole retired on 3/31/2008, John Westergren became the LMCO focal point. John also replaced Lee Meyer as Executive of Interest for Legacy initiatives as of July 15th, 2008. 
  • Developed a technology history display for Minnesota's 2008 sesquicentennial Capitol Mall celebration. Showed this display at Plant 4, the MACS building, LMCO, the Eagan Community Center, and the Minnesota State Fair.   Generated a report then placed the report and artifacts into the 2058 Bi-Centennial time capsule. 
  • We setup then staffed a display of our History/Legacy booth items at the University of Minnesota's Computer Science open house on October 10, 2009 and October 14, 2011.
  • Displayed snippets of the Legacy for two 2010 semesters in the U of MN Walter Library.
  • Displayed the Legacy and NTDS participation during the 2011 50th Government Contractor Assn Forum at the University of Minnesota.
  • Earl Vraa led a group documenting the Computer Aided Design development at UNIVAC.
  • Bernie 'Mike' Svendsen led an effort to document the history of semi-conductor developments in the Twin Cities area.

This poster was created for the 2008 Minnesota Sesquicentennial celebrations.  IT Legacy History IllustrationQuint Heckert, created the poster layout for our volunteer exhibit team - printing & electronic file by LMCO. Click here for a print resolution copy.
A report about our Sesquicentennial activities including a summary of the Minnesota 2058 time capsule items is also available, click here. 

Thank You to:

  1.   The 300+ retirees, active employees, customers, and former equipment users who have contributed to our Legacy Anthology.
  2.    The staffs of the Charles Babbage Institute (CBI) and the DCHS Lawshe Memorial Museum for their guidance and support as we have and are sorting and cataloguing hundreds of 3-D artifacts and thousands of 2-D papers and photographs. Among our artifacts are several hundred 'Code Cards' which have been donated to CBI with some copies at the Lawshe Memorial Museum. PDF copy links to these code cards are on our computer chapters, software engineering chapter, peripherals chapter, etc.
  3.    The Minnesota High-Tech Association for managing a Minnesota State legacy grants developing the TPT documentary.
  4.    Mr. Dale Weeks who worked in the background to raise funding for the TPT documentary development and a special Minnesota technology history web site.
  5. The Dakota County Commissioners who approved an ADA accessibility project thereby extending the life of the Lawshe Memorial Museum.

   We appreciate the efforts of the Computer History Museum, 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. They also facilitate the http://bitsavers.trailing-edge.com/ site where there are pdf files of many UNIVAC/Sperry/UNISYS manuals and brochures among their 32,000 electronic items. To facilitate researchers, we have copied and linked some of the bitsavers files from applicable chapters.

A special thanks to Dr. Tom Misa - Director, Charles Babbage Institute at the University of Minnesota - From 2007 into 2018, Tom has been an advisor to our Legacy committee giving valuable advice on what to preserve and how to do some of that preservation. He developed a book, The Digital State, incorporating some of our committee findings and references some of our web pages in his Technology History Class lectures.

Acronyms

ASWAnti-Submarine Warfare ISAInstruction Set Architecture 
ATCAir Traffic Control   ITInformation Technology
BINACBINary Automatic Computer  LMCOLockheed Martin Corporation
CADComputer Aided Design  MS2 Maritime Sensors and Systems
CBICharles Babbage Institute at the University of Minnesota MTDSMarine Tactical Data Systems
CSAWCommunications Supplementary Activity-Washington   
CDCControl Data Corporation NSANational Security Agency
DCHSDakota County Historical Society
EDSACElectronic Discrete Variable Computer  NTDS Naval Tactical Data Systems
EDVACElectronic Discrete Variable Automatic Computer   
EMCCEckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation  RRURemington Rand Univac 
ENIACElectronic Numerical Integrator and Computer U of MN University of Minnesota 
ERAEngineering Research Associates, Inc. UNISYSUNited Information SYStems
FAAFederal Aviation Administration UNIVACUNIVersal Automatic Computers