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Information Technology Pioneers

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

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 Calendar Items

May 19, Syttende Mai
June 14, Annual Picnic
June 15, Open House at UNISYS Roseville
Sept 13, Open House at Unisys, Eagan

October 11, tbd w/Pie & Ice Cream
Nov 17, Unihogs/ Uniturkeys
Dec 6, Annual Old Timers' Reunion
May 4, 2018 - Roseville Good Old Days

Board Meetings:

 June 7, 10 AM in UNISYS, Eagan visitor's conference room; August 2, 10 AM at the Roseville Library; October 4, 10 AM at the UNISYS, Eagan facility; and December 6, 10 AM in Roseville.

Social Activities

When the VIP Club was formed, the first of the four constitution requirements was: "The Club shall provide an opportunity for social interaction of its members."  Three decades before the VIP Club was formed, employees and former employees began getting together outside of work for personal communications. The first of these is called the 'First Friday' or respectively, 'Original Geek Squad'. The Club Board is not directly involved with many 'Ad hoc' monthly gatherings, however we do include information about them hereunder, in our newsletter, and web site HOME page announcements. We plan events at our board meetings - contact the President if you'd like to participate at a board meeting or to be part of specific activity plan. See the 'Mark Your Calendar' at the right for future social activity dates.

Planned or in the Planning Stages:

Many of our social activities require early registration so that we can assure adequate food, print name tags, etc. Some venues also require pre-payment or guarantee of attendee count thus sign-up deadlines are a week or two before the event. Of course, procrastinators may contact the event coordinator after the deadline to determine if a 'drop-in' can be accomodated.

  • Syttende Mai by May 12 for the 5/19 event - see the history below, then email Dale Torgerson for name tag and meal count - $18 p/p.
  • Annual Picnic by June 5 for the 6/14 event - John Westergran coordinates the volunteers, contact him to cook or setup or cleanup or ....
  • River Cruise by August 2 for the 8/10 event - Tom Turba is looking into a N Mpls Mississippi river cruise in N Mpls. Contact him to help plan and implement.
  • Legacy Exhibit - Open House by September 5 for the 9/13 event - Pre-registration required for UNISYS, Eagan building access, email webmaster@vipclubmn.org.

Ad Hoc Activities

  • A combined employee and retiree Golf League has a web page, http://www.ulglmn.org/umgl/.
  • FL residents and snow birds should contact Jeff Parker for monthly brunches at The Villages.
  • The Recreation tab links to many, many senior centers and has some info about other retiree hobby groups.

Monthly Gatherings - Endorsed or Promoted by the Club

When What Where Coordinator
First Tuesday Engineering/Drafting Lunch @ 11 AM Rickey's Café at Stark's, 3125 Dodd Road, Eagan, MN 651 456-0750
First Thursday Breakfast @ 8:00 AM Capitol View Cafe, 637 Smith Ave. St. Paul. (Corner of Smith and Baker). 651 222-2435
First Friday 'Geek Squad' luncheon @ 11:30 AM Yacht and Pool Club in Lilydale  Bill Roos, 952 888-0363
Second Tuesday Lunch @ 11:30 AM (UNISYS/Burroughs group)  Mall of America, 3rd Floor North Food Court  Paul Wennerstrom, 952 854-7855 
Second Wednesday Plant 4 engineers & manufacturers - Breakfast & Program @ 9:00 AM New Brighton Eagles Club, 563 Old Highway 8 Marvin Brown, 763 416-3903
Second Wednesday Plant 4 Ladies Lunch @ 11 AM   Bakers Square, Northtown - 221 County Rd 10 ME
Blaine, MN  55434 (as of March 8, 2017)
Gladys Langer, 651 552-1465
Second Saturday Odd numbered months at 11:30 AM, program management group Baker's Square - 3099 White Bear Avenue, Maplewood, MN Urho Rahkola, 651-429-33192

Roseville Good Old Days History

In 2007, then VP, Tom Turba attended the Annual UNIVAC Old Timers' Reunion. Aftwards he noted that the attendees were almost all defense personnel and that we should do something like that for the commercial side of the house. He took charge and planned a gathering for 2008 and wrote:

Memories, Memories - The Good Old Days: Remember the summer picnics at Bunker Hills, Turtle Lake, and the many other places where they were held? The kids would have their games, the barbeque was going, the sun was shining, the eats were great, the drinks flowed freely, and our friends were all around. It was a fun time that sometimes lasted well into the night.
  It was always fun to go to the Christmas Parties at the Bel-Ray Ballroom, Holiday Inn, Prom Center, and the many other places we had them. They were always after work. You could just relax, enjoy the atmosphere, talk with friends, have a dance, enjoy the music, eat the food, and just have fun.
    Remember going out to lunch at Paul’s Place, Nino’s, the Stone House, the Last Frontier, the Ground Round, the American Legion, and many other places? Those were the days. Paul’s Place is long gone – torn down for development. Nino’s was turned into a retail store. The Stone House, after being saved for many years, finally met its demise. The Last Frontier, with all its unique paintings, made way for more retail. And although the building still stands for a little while yet, the Ground Round is no more and has not been for many years.
BTW, the RGOD icon designed by LABenson.

Our participant records:

  1. We met at The Rosetown Memorial Legion, Post 542, at 700 West County Road C, just West of Dale St. in Roseville in 2008. Remember what it was like going there for lunch with your friends? On Friday, April 25th, 2008, over 250 people who used to work at Unisys in Roseville gathered to eat Sloppy-Joes or pizza, swap stories, talk of old times, have a drink, get out of the spring rain, and just have fun.
  2. On Friday, April 15th 2009 over 340 people gathered at the American Legion Post in New Brighton.
  3. On Friday, April 30th 2010 over 370 people gathered at the Mermaid Convention Center in Moundsview.
  4. On Friday, April 29th 2011 about 425 people gathered at the Mermaid Convention Center in Moundsview.
  5. On Friday, May 4th 2012 just over 500 people gathered at the Mermaid Convention Center in Moundsview.
  6. On Friday, April 27th, 2013 about 370 people gathered at the Mermaid Convention Center in Moundsview.
  7. On Friday April 20th, 2014 about 375 people gathered at the Mermaid Convention Center in Moundsview
  8. The eighth Good Old Days reunion for people that used to work at Univac/Unisys in Roseville was another success with somewhere between 380 and 400 people attending on April 24. Countless memories were shared and old friends reunited. The pictures of the event that were taken by David Wilhelm, are up on the web, https://picasaweb.google.com/dewilhelm53/RosevilleGoodOldDays2015?feat=email.
  9. The ninth RGOD reunion on May 6, 2016 had just over 370 attendees.
  10. The tenth RGOD reunion on May 12, 2017 had just about 300 attendees. Thanks to Paul Dickson, Marv Brown, Orrin McGill, and Tom Turba who staffed the check-in table.

Original "Geek Squad" History

In ERA days; Dr. Sid Ruben, Don Nemanic, Jim Nikitas, and Dr. Arnold Cohan began meeting for lunch the first Friday of every month. Several years later a fifth person, Warren Burrell, was 'allowed' to join with the first four. Gradually others were invited: Leon Findley, George Hardenbergh, Fred Hargesheimer, Chuck Homan, Bernie Jansen, Carl Knorr, Byron Smith, Leroy Strutzman, Don Weidenbach, Gerry Williams, Harry Wise, Jim Wright, et al.

    The group originally met at TGI Friday's restaurant in Roseville. From there it transferred to the Manor on West 7th close to Plant 1 as the group grew to a dozen people. When St. Paul re-development efforts eliminated The Manor, Sid Rubens suggested Parish's Restaurant on West 7th. Luncheon members who passed away before the Manor to Parish move were Arnie Cohen, Leon Findley, Carl Korr, Don Nemanic, Jim Nickitas, Byron Smith, and Leroy Strutzman. Some attendees were working at CDC or elsewhere but still met as these were friendships, not just co-workers.

  The Parish restaurant went out of business in 2003, then immediately reopened as the Casa Vieja. Passing away since the Casa Vieja name change were George Hardenbergh, Fred Hargesheimer, and Harry Wise. In 2011, the Casa Vieja closed their kitchen so the group moved to the St. Paul Pool and Yacht Club in Lilydale - hosted by Jack Ross. The attendee reminder list is now maintained by William 'Bill' Roos.

In 2005; this group was honored as "The Original Geek Squad" in a James P. Lenfestey Minnesota Monthly article. Jim Lenfestey has provided us with the draft copy of his article, 'A Gaggle of Geeks,' posted on our web site as an 'Article for the Month.'

    Don Weidenbach and Bernie Jansen still participate; sadly, the originators have all passed away. Recent joiners are Paul Hove, Dick Lundgren, Larry Debelak, and Lowell Benson. [written by Warren Burrell, edited by Lowell.]

We look forward to seeing you May 12, 11 AM at 'The Good Old Days' at the Mermaid in Moundsview. Tell your friends who used to work in Roseville and send an email to Tom to get onto the pre-printed nametag list. Spouses and significant others are welcome - Coordinator, Tom Turba, VIP Club Member Emeritous.

Unihogs/Uniturkeys History

2016 invite flyer by Lowell A. Benson: The Unihogs/Turkeys tradition started in the mid-60’s with annual dinner meetings coinciding with the February Ground Hog Day. This was opportunity for engineers and managers who had left UNIVAC to gather with friends. It later changed to include those who had thought about leaving UNIVAC. Fred Vihovde has been Head Hog on the planning committee for over 25 years. Since 2000, he's been assisted by Lowell Benson and Jack Ross [deceased 2016]. New committee members would be heartily welcomed! There is always a somber reading of former employees who have passed away during the year based on VIP Club newsletter listings.

Recent History

  • In 2012, the committee changed from the Lost Spur to Casper's Cherokee of Eagan to simplify planning.
  • We were at Parish’s on West Seventh, before moving to the Lost Spur in 1985.
  • In 2002, the committee changed from an evening dinner with speaker to a luncheon with participant recollections.  During the 80s, attendance was in the low 100s. In the 90s several events and speakers drew up to 150 participants. David Boslaugh Dr. Arthur Norberg were a couple of the featured speakers in the '90s.
  • In 1989, this annual event was changed from February to the Friday before Thanksgiving to accommodate participation by the Arizona, Florida, and Texas bound ‘snowbirds.’
  • In 1985, the group moved to the Lost Spur from Parish's on West Seventh. The group previously had met at Jax Café and at the Town and Country Motel near plant 5.

Origination by Bob Jablonski

”I do not know if you know the history or not, but a brief history follows:

  • It was originally started after several groups split out of Univac Roseville to form COMTEN, Weismantel Associates, and Intech
  • It was mostly the design group HW/SW from the 1100, 490/494 computers and communications areas
  • It was started as an informal get together of x-employees who had worked together in Roseville.
  • Original meetings were at the Canadian on Rice St and we had dinner and I believe played cards in the back room.
  • As it grew it moved to Parrish’s on West 7th, with a night cap at Casey’s for some.
  • It was usually held early February (close to Ground Hog Day), hence the title UNIHOG.
  • Fortunately or unfortunately, some near retirees and retirees got wind of this and because some left Minnesota for the winter eventually took control and changed the date to the Friday after T’ Day. This caused some problems for those still working who went out of town for the T’ Day weekend to be with family. {Editor's Note: Thus the change to the Friday before Thanksgiving.}
  • It was renamed UNITURKEY because of the date change, but they also kept the UNIHOG name.
  • It has grown and now includes a very diverse group. Overall it is a good thing although a far cry from the original intention.
    {Editor's Note: Instead of those who had left UNIVAC, those who had thought about leaving were invited.}
  • I remember from the original Group were: Jack Anderson, John Antholz, Jim Ashbaugh, Robert Bina, Ralph Boss, Wally Emerson, Dick Hensley, Gary Iverson, Bob Jablonski, George Marrette, Jim Nickitas, JT Olson, Ross Rash, Rollie Salling, Don Stanga, Dick Swanson, and Wally Weismantel."

Have you read "A few good men from Univac" by David E. Lundstrom?

His chapter 21 includes discussion about the UniHogs start and includes the 1982 program announcement as figure 24. Copied hereunder for your reading pleasure:

"One day I got a phone call from a friend that I had known since my Univac days. He asked if I was going to Unihogs this year. What’s a Unihog?” I asked. He explained that a growing group of ex-Univac employees had for years arranged an informal get-together once a year on Groundhog Day. Unihog Agenda The combination of Univac and groundhog suggested the name “Unihog.” Unihogs form a loose non-organization. Originally, to participate, one must have left Univac. Returning to Univac does not disqualify a member once qualified. Some attendees have left Univac three and four times! The requirements were later loosened to include anyone who had even thought of leaving Univac. Unihogs have no membership roll, no dues, no elections, no bylaws, no officers, no newsletter, no secret handshake, no funny hats, and no rituals – except for the singing of the “Unihog Drinking Song” at the close of every reunion. Unihogs are governed, if that is not too strong a word, by a self perpetuating, six-member committee of volunteers. Two new members are added to the committee each year, and the two members who have served for three years are dropped. The treasury, consisting of an old envelope with a few dollars in it, is passed along from head hog to head hog. A small surcharge is added onto the cost of the dinners at the annual reunion to provide funds for mailing the meeting notices and for gag gifts. An artist among the membership drew the mascot of the Unihogs, which appears on the meeting notices and banquet tickets: a little black and white spotted pig with a single long horn growing out of its forehead.

The first meeting that I attended was held in the basement private dining room of a nightclub just down the road from the Univac headquarters. About a hundred hogs showed up for cocktails and gossip. Luckily someone had brought a supply of “Univac Visitor” name tags, which everyone wore. I had not seen many of the attendees in fifteen years. At a later reunion my old friend, Dick Karpen, now living in New York, managed to visit the Twin Cities on Groundhog Day. Dick brought me up to date on the whereabouts of some of the Philadelphia hogs.

Typically, after an hour or so of socializing, the hogs sit down to dinner. A short program follows dinner, always something related to the early history of computer development. One year an academic paper was presented on the founders and the original organization of Engineering Research Associates, the predecessor of Univac St. Paul. Another year a member showed slides of the early ERA and Univac computers. At the 1983 reunion, the speaker who introduced himself, consistent with our porcine nomenclature, as the “big boar,” was none other than Willis Drake, the man at whose house I had subscribed for Control Data initial-issue stock back in 1957. Drake, chairman of Data Card, a company that makes magnetic credit card processing equipment, spoke on the need to recapture the engineering creativity of the early days, a topic close to my heart.

     The 1984 reunion speaker was the new director of the Charles Babbage Institute for the History of Information Processing, Arthur Norberg. (Charles Babbage was a nineteenth--century British mathematician who attempted to build a mechanical “computing engine.” He is considered by many to be the earliest designer of the programmable computer.) The Institute, a nonprofit foundation at the University of Minnesota, was set up to document and preserve the early history of the electronic computer. The director spoke on his experiences in attempting to document the early growth of technology in Silicon Valley, where he had just completed a project.

Following the program the hogs always stand for the ritual bellowing of the “Unihog Drink Song” (sung to the tune of “the Whiffenpoof Song”), with a final chorus:
Managers, programmers, engineers
We’re all Unihogs, and we’ll give three cheers
We’ll program computers to recall past years
Oink, oink, oink.

The number of different companies that have been started by Unihogs is astonishing. One of the members prepared a genealogy chart listing seventy-six firms (some have merged or gone out of business), and the list is still not complete. Five generations of companies from Univac are shown, and it is only a matter of time before a sixth generation appears. I suspect that the Philadelphia branch of Univac could show as many offspring.
In due time I got a call inviting me to join the committee as an apprentice hog. When elevated by seniority to head hog, I moved the reunion, as was my prerogative, to a larger banquet facility in the midway district of St. Paul, near the original ERA plant at 1902 West Minnehaha. The meeting notice (figure 24) dates from that meeting place. A later head hog moved the reunion once again to a more luxurious private club near the new Cray Research building within sight of the Control Data headquarters tower across the Minnesota River." [end of extract]|

Annual Old Timers's Reunion History

The Annual UNIVAC Old Timers Reunion on the first Thursday of December was was initiated in the early 80’s by retired Sperry Defense Systems marketer John Markfelder. Typical attendance was about 250 retirees plus many 'UNIVACers' still working in the area. There is no formal program, just an annual opportunity for former co-workers to greet each other and chat over a coke, glass of wine, or beer. The buffet lunch at the Fort Snelling Officer’s club was always good, especially when eating with friends. the last two years we have met at the Lost Spur in Eagan.

For about twenty-five years another Unisys retiree and former Marine officer, Earl Lillestrand, coordinated the invitations – most by a cadre of volunteers making phone calls! His arrangement and invitation cohort for many, many years was Dante (Dan) Maseratti, also a marketing manager and a Marine.
Participants are reminded of this event via the monthly VIP Club newsletter, via an e-mail, or via a phone call from volunteers - now being coordinated by Lowell Benson. Beginning in 2007, attendees are asked to register ahead of time and to inform a volunteer if the cafeteria buffet line is in your plans. A $1 contribution to cover facility charges and name tag costs is requested from each participant.

    If you are willing to help with 2017 notifications, contact Lowell at webmaster@vipclubmn.org or (651) 483-3709.

Syttende Mai History

In 1973 Dick (Ole) Olson was a co-Founder of an employee gathering to celebrate Norwegian Constitution day. Initially, participants were active employees. By the early 80s, retired employees joined the planning committee. Most of these luncheons have featured speakers of Norwegian heritage talking about their books or experiences associated with their ancestral land. Participants are reminded of the date via a phone call from the volunteer committee and/or the VIP Club newsletter. Casper's needs a head count of participants ahead of time, so - if you plan to attend, please advise a committee member. Dale Torgerson, Dale Phelps, and Dick Lundgren are current planners.

Beginning in 2015, the VIP Club Board decided to replace our May program meeting with promotion of and member participation at this event. by Lowell A. Benson

Activity Venue Locations

Unisys MACS in Eagan: Set your GPS unit to Eagan MN, 3199 Pilot Knob Road. From Hwy 35E take the Pilot Knob Road exit ramp. Then go north on Pilot Knob Road about ½ mile to Tower View Road. We use the Unisys north parking lot and the visitor entrance thereby.

Lawshe Museum in South St. Paul: Set your GPS unit to South Saint Paul, 130 Third Avenue. From the Roseville area, take Hwy 36 to I-35E south toward downtown St. Paul. Get into the left lane then take the I-94/Hwy 52 left exit to merge onto Hwy 52 going south. 3.4 miles later, take the Butler Ave exit and turn left. Go 0.7 mi and turn right onto MN156 S. After 1.8 mi, turn right onto Grand Ave. W – Drive up the hill a block and turn left; the parking lot is then 400 ft. on the left. From the Eagan area, take I494 toward the Mississippi river then take exit #65 onto 7th Ave. Turn left and drive a mile to South view Blvd, turn right at the light. After 0.3 mi, turn left onto 3rd Ave – the museum parking lot is then 0.2 mi on the right.

LMCO/Leidos: Set your GPS unit to Eagan, MN, 1303 Corporate Center Drive Suite 100 From Roseville area, take 35E south through St. Paul then exit to the west onto I-494. Then take exit 71 for Co Rd 31 (Pilot Knob Road) and go south. Turn left onto Corporate Center Drive, then when you see the Lockheed Martin sign, turn left, start up the hill then turn left into the parking log - drive through the parking lot to the west side of the building and turn left into that parking lot section. Enter the building through the west door. From Minneapolis or Bloomington, get onto 494 going East then take exit 71 onto Pilot Knob Road going south - then follow the Corporate Center Drive instructions above.  

Highland Park: Set your GPS unit to St Paul, 1200 Montreal Ave. From the Roseville area; take 36 to 35E going south through the city, exit at W 7th (Hwy 5) and turn right. After three blocks angle right onto Montreal Ave and drive uphill ½ mile. The Pavilion is on the left. From the Eagan area take 35E north toward St. Paul, exit at W 7th (Hwy) 5 and turn left. Proceed to Montreal Ave angling right and drive ½ mile. From St. Paul, find Snelling Avenue, drive south to Montreal Ave then turn left. Drive ¼ mile to Pavilion on right.

Casper's Cherokee House in Eagan: Set your GPS to Eagan MN, 4625 Nicols Road, From I35E, take the Cliff Road exit and go West to Nicols, turn left. From Cedar Ave, take the Cliff Road exit, go East to Nicols, then turn right.

Mermaid in New Brighton: Set your GPS unit to Moundsview, MN - 2200 CR 10. From Roseville, Minneapolis, and other southwest points - take I35W north then at exit 28C take ramp right for CR10, cross over the bridge then turn left onto Co. Rd H. From Eagan and southeast points - take I35E north to I694 West, keep in the right lane for Hwy 10, get into the left lane, cross over I35W then turn left onto Co Rd H.

Charles Babbage Institute:   Set your GPS address to 222 - 21st Avenue South Minneapolis, MN 55455.  The walking location is Room #211 in the Andersen Library second floor. For parking, the closest is lot C86/the Law School lot that has shared contract and visitor parking. A parking alternate site is the city parking next to the Marriott Courtyard hotel, formerly Holiday Inn at seven corners. This is about 1.5 blocks to the west of CBI, 1 block east of the I35W Washington Avenue freeway exit.

Joseph's Grill in St. Paul: Set your GPS address to St Paul, MN - 140 Wabasha St S 55107. From the Roseville area take 35E South toward St Paul, get into the left lane and exit onto Hwy 52 going south. After crossing the Mississippi river, take the ramp right for Lafayette Rd toward Plato Blvd. Turn right onto Plato (west) for 0.2 mi then turn right onto Wabasha (north). After 1/2 mi, Joseph's will be on the right. From the Eagan area take 35E north to I494 east to Hwy 52 going north. Take the ramp right for Lafayette Road then turn left (west) onto Plato Blvd. After 0.7 mi, turn right (north) onto Wabasha, Joseph's will be on the right after 1/2 mi.

Lost Spur in Eagan:

Set your GPS to St Paul, 2750 Sibley Memorial Hwy, 55121 or take exit #98 off I-35E onto Lone Oak Road. Go west across Pilot Knob Road and then down the hill to Hwy 13. Turn right and proceed north ~ ½ miles to the Lost Spur (City View) entrance on the right.

Roseville Masonic Center (RMC):

Set your GPS to Roseville, MN 1321 County Rd B2 W. From Eagan: take I-35E north to the Hwy 36 exit west. Exit Hwy 36 at Hamline avenue and proceed North ~1/4 mile to Co. Rd. B2 then turn right (East). Drive ~ 200 yards then turn left into Center's parking lot. From Anoka or Arden Hills: Take 694 to Snelling Ave, exit going south to Co. Rd. B2 (This is the Rosedale Mall exit). Turn left and drive 1/2 mile to cross Hamlin Ave, the Center will then be on your left. From Roseville anywhere: The RMC is on the north side of Co. Rd. B2 just east of the Hamline Ave. intersection. If you get to the Roseville Area HS, turn around and go back toward the west ~1/2 of a block.