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Information Technology Pioneers

 Retirees and former employees of UNISYS, Lockheed Martin, and their Twin Cities heritage companies.
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1. Introduction, Twin Cities

Shortly after Remington Rand bought out ERA, a new engineering, manufacturing, and management building was built along the Mississippi across the river from historic Ft. Snelling. As the new St. Paul corporate headquarters it was labeled Plant 1, Sperry Park while the facility on Minnehaha was labeled Plant 2. Business was growing so a Plant 3 manufacturing facility was leased on Prior Avenue three blocks south of Plant 2, the original ERA facility.
     The local commercial operations also grew out of the Plant 1 facility so in 1961 the company began leasing buildings in the suburb of Roseville - called Plant 4. One of these buildings is still occupied by UNISYS and is the site of just about half of the VIP Club meetings.
     In the late '50s even more engineering space was needed so a large building just South of Plant 2 on Prior avenue was rented to become Plant 5. Yet more space was needed in the early '60s so a small building along side the Mississippi just North of the Ford plant became a training facility and document storage building - Plant 6. Another small building alongside Hwy 280 just north of East Hennepin Ave. was rented, Plant 7, was close to Plant 4. The old Northwest Airlines office building on University Avenue was leased and called Plant 6 because the original Plant 6 was no longer being leased. There is some controversy in that some VIP Club members recall that the Northwest Airlines building was called Plant 8.  Plants 2, 3, 5, and Plant 6/8 were within walking distance of each other as was Eslinger's, a restaurant just across University Avenue.

Note that the original ERA building is discussed on the Places header page. [lab]

 Click scroll down to:

  1. Introduction [left]
  2. 1987 Twin Cities Facilities listed
  3. Articles about the following facilities are included below: Plant 1Plant 3, Plant 4, Plant 5, Plant 6, Plant 7, Plant 8, and Others

Introduction continued:

 Lunch breaks, dinner breaks for evening workers, and occasional project parties all took place at Esslingen's. A few napkin designs over a cold brew often led to problem solutions thus "Slinger's" was occasionally called plant 9, albeit tongue-in-cheek.
     In 1967 a new headquarters facility in Eagan opened, called Plant 8 because the University Ave site was being closed. In 1987, shortly after Burroughs bought Sperry to form UNISYS, the corporation occupied 28 facilities in the Twin Cities area, as identified in the table below.


Chapter 70 updated 11/09/2016

2. 1987 Twin Cities Facilities

All twenty eight of these buildings were occupied by UNISYS personnel in January, 1987 shortly after Burroughs had purchased Sperry to form UNited Information SYStems.



MN City



Building 1 2276 Highcrest Road Roseville 55113 Plant 4 & Credit Union
Building 2 2391 Walnut Street Roseville 55113 Plant 4
Building 3 2470 Highcrest Road Roseville 55113 Plant 4
Building 4 1301 Industrial Blvd. Minneapolis 55413  An old post office
Waters Edge 1500 W. Co. Rd. B-2 Roseville 55113 Mn/DOT since 1995
Midway 1902 Minnehaha Ave. W. St. Paul 55104 Plant 2
Shepard Road 2751 Shepard Road St. Paul 55116 Plant 1
Sperry Park 3333 Pilot Knob Road Eagan 55121 Plant 8 - Lockheed Martin MS2
Semiconductor Operations 1500 Tower View Road Eagan 55121 Defense Systems
Consolidated Facilities 3199 Pilot Knob Road Eagan 55121 MACS Building
Materials Management Ctr. 1200 Trapp Road Eagan 55121  ?
Eagandale Business Campus 1301 Corporate Center Dr. Eagan 55121 Defense Systems
Eagandale Business Campus 1270 Eagan Industrial Rd Eagan 55121 Defense Systems
Eagandale Business Campus 1285 Corporate Center Dr. Eagan 55121 Defense Systems
Eagandale Center 1305 Corporate Center Dr Eagan 55121 Defense Systems
Federal Information Systems 2535 Pilot Knob Road Mendota Heights 55121  was Burroughs
Reconditioning Center 2465 So. Lexington Mendota Heights 55120  was Burroughs
Education Center 2001 Killebrew Drive Bloomington 55420  was Burroughs
Metro 3001 Metro Drive Bloomington 55420  ?
Corporate Square C 3110 Neil Armstrong Blvd. Eagan 55121 Defense Systems
Corporate Square D 3140 Neil Armstrong Blvd. Eagan 55121 Defense Systems
Corporate Square E 990 Apollo Road Eagan 55121 Defense Systems
Yankee Square 4 3459 Washington Drive Eagan 55122 Defense Systems
ARTS III Test 6301 34th Ave. S Minneapolis 55450  Defense Systems (at airport)
Regional CSE 5215 Edina Industrial Blvd Edina 55435  was Burroughs
CSE Parts 5259 Edina Industrial Blvd Edina 55435  was Burroughs
Branch Marketing 251 Lafayette Road St. Paul 55107  was Burroughs
Branch Marketing 6130 Blue Circle Drive Minnetonka 55343  was Burroughs

 This chart data was provided by Bernie Jansen

3.  Facility Descriptions

Plant 1 photo3.1 Plant 1

Plant 1 opened about September of 1956 according to Jim Hyslop who was hired in December 1956. The 'freeway' road at the top of the picture is West 7th Street. West 7th to the right leads to down town St. Paul. To the left crosses the Mississippi River to Ft. Snelling, Minneapolis, and the airport. The roadway along the front of the UNIVAC building ended at the parking lot. Near the top center along the frontage road was Gannon's restaurant, the site of the first 'First Friday' luncheon meetings.

The rectangle in the picture's center behind Plant 1 shows the footings for a 1965 plant expansion - to become a 35,000 sq. ft. area for manufacturing the Nike-Zeus computer's film memory. Later this facility housed the first automated back-panel wire-wrap machines brought on board for the CP-901, UYK-7, ..., manufacturing.

Today, this road is an expressway following the river (Shepard Road) to downtown St. Paul.  This second UNIVAC photo shows an addition on the east side.

3.2 Plant 3,

Awaiting inputs. In 1965, the Defense Systems Division1 announced the acquisition of 11,000 sq. ft of existing floor space at Plant 3.

3.3 Plant 4

     During the LEGACY, the commercial operations transitioned to independence from the defense operations. Through the late 50s to the late 60s, plant 1 housed a military computer center and a commercial computer center across the hall from each other. During the 70s and 80s the two organizations held annual joint technology exchange forums at Craguns' Resort in Northern Minnesota.

     In 1961 near the intersection of Highways 36 and 280, the company1 became the first 'Space Center' tenet as they leased 130.000 square feet of space [Building 1] from the owners, St. Paul Terminal Warehouse Co. The Univac Data Processing Division continued to grow, adding 23,700 sq. ft. in 1962 in Building 2, 25,000 in 1963, 24.300 sq. ft. in 1964, then an additional 182,640 square feet in 1965 as they opened building 3 [The current plant 4]. [lab]
     Another aspect of the LEGACY was the almost free transfer of talented managers and engineers between defense and commercial as projects started or waned. Glen Kregness, Bob Oulicky, and Tom Soller are three that immediately come to mind. Brothers Tom Petschauer worked at Plant 8 while Dick Petschauer worked at Plant 4 - both in engineering management. [lab]

In 2009 Buildings 1 and 2 were razed to make space for re-development.

Below is building 1 as photographed in June by Bruce Hyslop - UNISYS employee and son of Jim Hyslop who is a UNIVAC retiree.

Below is building 2 as photographed by UNISYS employee Gary Rist in July 2009.


3.5 Plant 5

The 'Motley Crew' component engineering group. This 1970 photo commemorates the creation of the automated component tester. The tester in the picture was the DC & Functional tester that Dave Kirkwood designed. Of course, you probably know that the piece of equipment off to the left (in front of Chuck Beltz) is a 1232 I/O Console that was tied to the 1218 computer next to it. This tester was in the mezzanine in plant 5. It was designed and built through the efforts of those in the photo.


Standing in back, left to right: Chuck Beltz, Ben Peterson, Bob Nelson, John Sanden, (obscured) Marv Burns, Ed Genereau, Ralph Kerler, John Gould, Dick Marschafava, Glenn Younquist, Ron Christianson, Mike Farrell

Kneeling, left to right: Jim Gengler, Joe Clysdale, Tom Szenay, Al Norlander, Bob Ginsky, Hal Rogers, and Walt Makos

Standing at the right: Dave Kirkwood and John Schoeberl

We had some bright people designing and building items like this which were strictly for internal use. Many of these people were later at the Plant 8 semiconductor facility. Photo submitted by Larry D. Bolton - names from John Gould, Bradley Hinman, and Harvey Taipale.

3.6 Plant 6.

Chuck Homan told me [LABenson] that he'd worked in Plant 6 across from the Ford plant when UNIVAC first leased it.  They called it the Micro-Tone building because that was the previous tenant.  This building was the training site for a period of time, both programmers and field service engineers.  The snapshot below shows a card punch, a magnetic tape unit, and a computer along with an instructor and two students using an oscilloscope. I think that Dan Newton is on the left and Hal Rogers on the right.


3.7 Plant 6, the second.

Many people are familiar with the old Northwest Airlines building located on University Avenue in St. Paul, just East of Prior Avenue. This was originally identified as plant 8 although a few knew it as the second Plant 6.

3.8 Plant 7.

This building was along the west side of Highway 280 between Hennepin Avenue and Broadway. For awhile during the early '60s there was an old airplane shell underneath some of the adjacent power line stanchions.  These has long since been razed and been replaced with a truck servicing operation.

3.9 Plant 8.

The Eagan home of Lockheed Martin MS2 was built in the 60s, expanded in the 70s and has been modernized a few times since then.  Note the newspaper clipping below - column 1 proudly states that this is the "Twin Cities' 8th".  Shortly after opening, the Military Computer Test Center was moved into the basement from its former location behind the visitor's entrance of plant 1.  

45 1/2 years later (March 2013) the facility is being razed to make way for new business developments. Most of the defense industry projects have been phased out or transferred to other facilities since November 2011 when LMCO made their announcement.

Below is a 2013 snapshot of the Eagan facility razing.


The Air Traffic Management engineering group and a small 'think tank' group of engineers are continuing an LMCO presence in Minnesota in a leased facility on Quarry Road, which intersects with Pilot Knob Road. [lab]



3.10 Others:

The original semiconductor facility was in the basement of the west wing of the plant 8 facility. They later expanded and constructed a separate new semiconductor facility at the NW corner of the Eagan property.  The center of the building was separately isolated on air cushions to isolate it from ground vibrations which might have compromised the photolithography steps during semiconductor processing. [LDB] 

Early products included MNOS memory chips for an Air Force project and custom VLSI devices for the UYK-43 and UYK-44 projects.  I believe this building is now a NW Airlines computer center. [lab]


Just to the North of Plant 8 is the 'MACS' building, a UNISYS commercial systems support building.  This building was erected in 1987 to consolidate the various Burroughs facilities that had been in several places around the cities.  [lab]

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