Our Legacy Chapters
| Blue Bell
| Burroughs, etc.
| Mementos |
You are reading an on-going web site anthology,
now a decade long innovative approach to
document and publicize our IT industry pioneering history. In addition to tthe buttons at the left, the chapter
select links immediatly above have topical details.
In late 2005, Lockheed Martin Corporate, motivated by the realization
that their current company was created from over 20 predecessors,
asked their various operating units to “capture their legacy” without
a real concept of what was to follow. In Eagan Minnesota, Ole (Dick)
Olson was tasked to respond; he formed an ad hoc group of volunteers
and contacted the VIP Club Board.
The group quickly realized that the history of Engineering
Research Associates (ERA), continuing to the present, was a remarkable
story of technological innovation and contribution to the computer industry
in general and to Minnesota in particular. This story, particularly
the early years, has never really been completely told; e. g. the ATHENA
computer launching 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 the ERA beginnings
are disappearing rapidly. Our pioneers are dying, successor corporations
are shredding records, and memories are fading. By
Harvey Taipale - November 2007.
A Google Search Box is provided for your use in searching this site
with over 60 Legacy chapters.
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 so many who have passed away.
During our Legacy, a few management and engineering
personnel left to form other companies (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
- 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
At the October 2005 VIP Club board meeting the committee began, Ole
representing LMCO and Lowell 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, merged with the VIP Club site in March
2007. Dick Lundgren said that he would help write and edit stories.
The Committee and project set three priority objectives:
- to capture whatever remaining material and information
- 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:
Lowell Benson - Engineering Manager; Bill Bergen - Systems Engineer;
Larry Bolton - Component Engineer; Anil Deodhar - Systems Engineer;
Millie Gignac - Human Resources; Bernie Jansen - Engineering Manager; Dick Lundgren -
Instructor/Writer; Tom Montgomery, Systems Engineer; Keith Myhre - Systems Engineer & marketing Manager;
Tricia Myhre - Systems Programmer; Les Nelson - Systems Engineer; Bob
Pagac - Program Manager; Dan Rogers - Systems Trainer Director; Jon Simon - Systems
Engineer; Ron Q. Smith, UNISYS Fellow; Mike Svendsen - Procurement and Semiconductor Development;
Harvey Taipale - Engineering Manager; Tom Turba - Engineering Manager;
Earl Vraa - Engineering Manager; and John Westergren, Program Manager.
Sadly, several of our contributors/pioneers have passed away during
our Legacy initiative: Warren Becker, Quint Heckert, Bill Klingner, Jim 'Rapp' Rapinac,
Marc Shoquist, Harry Weis, Paul Welshinger, ...
Legacy Anthology Chapters by Retirees, et al'
Our corporations employed People who Engineered
Systems and Computers in Locations
locally and throughout the world, thus the Legacy chapter titles and
structure of this web site.
- Over 250 project experiences and career summaries from and or
about the people who have experienced parts of this Legacy.
- Our designs transition all electronic generations; vacuum tubes,
transistors, integrated circuits, micro-processors, application
specific integrated circuits, etc. We've included Software, Field
Service/Training, Antenna Couplers, Patents, Peripherals, and Interfacing
chapters or subsections.
-Aerospace, Airborne, Naval Tactical Data Systems, Air Traffic Control,
Marine Systems, Air Force, ASOC, Government, and Commercial since
the File Computer in the 50s.
- 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.
- 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.
- The 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 used
with permission, and some developed in response to questions posed
by people who have browsed our site pages/chapters.
- 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 UNIVAC/Sperry/UNISYS/
equipments at museums throughout the United States.
- Contacts and Links -
Many web sites provide related information about our heritage. Links
to a few other local sites are also provided. as well as a few
'educational' sites for youth who want to have technology
No, we have not created a Blog nor Facebook nor Tweet nor Wiki-pedia
approach because we want to assure accuracy of information and identification
of the source of information. BUT, we do welcome reader inputs.
Legacy Project Sucesses
This poster was created for the 2008 Minnesota Sesquicentennial celebrations.
Quint 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,
Thanks to the 300+ retirees, active employees,
customers, and former equipment users who have contributed to our Legacy
project anthology. Thanks to staffs of the Charles Babbage Institute
(CBI) and the Lawshe Memorial Museum for their guidance and support
as we have & 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 pages,
software page, and peripheral page, etc.
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 documents among their 32,000 electronic
A special thanks to Dr. Tom Misa - Director, Charles Babbage Institute
at the University of Minnesota - Since 2007, 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.