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Information Technology (IT) Pioneers

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

In this Chapter

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


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 (See the 1961 illustration at the right.)
     The local commercial operations grew out of the Plant 1 facility so in 1961 the company began leasing buildings in the suburb of Roseville - called Plant 4. These were noted as buildings 1, 2, and 3.  The last of these buildings (#3) was still occupied by UNISYS until June 23, 2017 as they merged operations in Eagan.  Building 3 was the site of just about half of the VIP Club meetings through 2016.
     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 8.  . There is some controversy in that some VIP Club members recall that the Northwest Airlines building was also called Plant 6 because the original Plant 6 was no longer being leased.  Plants 2, 3, 5, and original plant 8 were within walking distance of each other.  

Lunch breaks, dinner breaks for evening workers, and occasional project parties all took place at Esslinger's on University Avenue, half-way between plants 5 and 3.  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, named Plant 8 because the University Ave plant 8 site was closed. In 1987, shortly after Burroughs bought Sperry to form UNISYS, the corporation occupied 28 facilities in the Twin Cities area, as listed in the table below. 

In the 80's Unisys, Roseville had rented space in the Water's Edge building at the intersection of Hwy 36 and Snelling Avenue.

Note that the original ERA buildings are discussed in the Locations Chapter [lab]

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.

Name Street MN City ZIP Notes
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 with a finished freeway like Shepard Road along the Mississippi river.


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. This plant was walking distance from Plant 5, Plant 2, and Esslinger's Restaurant.

3.3 Plant 4

       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. {Editor's note: Building 3 was vacated on 23 June 2017 as Roseville operations were combined with the UNISYS Eagan operations. [lab]   

During our LEGACY, the commercial operations transitioned to independence from the defense operations during the 60s. Through the late 50s to the late 60s, Plant 1 housed a military computer center and a commercial computer center with an 1107 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.   

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

At the left is building 2 as photographed by UNISYS employee Gary Rist in July 2009.



3.5 Plant 5

Plant 5 was located on Prior Avenue adjacent to the plant 2 facility.  I, Lowell, was first in this plant in 1962 when the Automatic Antenna Coupler (ACC) design department and ACC manufacturing management departments were moved there from plant 1.  I do not recall which other departments were in the building.  The front of the building on Prior Avenue had two stories, the second had offices of engineering directors; George Raymond, Jay Kershaw, et al'.  The ACC engineering dept. had an electronics laboratory in which development testing took place.  The field service engineers (under Bob Brown) in that lab and the ACC draftsmen played 'Washers' during lunch breaks. Chuck Donahue, Paul Dietzler, Oscar Hayman, et al'.   Plant 5 was also a small technical writing department there, reporting to Don Anderson.  I was in that group for ~6 weeks the spring of 1963 as an editor after the ACC departments were being transition to Sperry Marine in SC.

  The back of the building had a mezzanine, in 1973 I had a desk there as a supervisor of 1616 & UYK-15 continuation engineering reporting to manager Bob Oulicky.  Also there was the CP-890 support engineering group under the direction of supervisor, Ray Dombeck.  I recall that Bob Jablonski came into the group as we did the 1616 design conversion into the 3760 communications processor.  The unique thing about the 3760 was that we developed an 8-bit parallel daisy chain interface feature so that the unit could operate with IBM hardware.  Don Shore did most of the mechanical design for that unit.  This group had a 'once a month' bridge evening with 8 people - I, Lowell, was an occasional substitute with them.  AND, most were avid fishermen - 


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 at the right 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, [see the Sept. 6, 1967 news, left] expanded in the 70s and has been modernized a few times since then.  Note the newspaper clipping 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 was razed to make way for new business developments. Most of the defense industry projects have been phased out or transferred to other facilities around the US since November 2011 when LMCO made their 'facility closing' announcement.

The Air Traffic Management (ATM) engineering group and a small 'think tank' group of engineers are continued an LMCO presence in Minnesota in 2013 at a leased facility on Quarry Road, which intersects with Pilot Knob Road. The ATM group was spun off into the Liedos corporation in 2016 - a very small group of engineer/scientists reporting to the LMCO Advance Technology Department remains.  [lab]

Below is a 2013 snapshot of the Eagan facility razing before the ground was bared for development of a shopping center.



3.10 MACS Building:


Shown at the right, 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. The north facing visitor's entrance is the VIP Club's meeting entrance when scheduled with management. In 2017, the Roseville operations will be moving into the building wing at the right of the flags.   [lab]

The original semiconductor research and manufacturing 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. [LDBolton] 

Early products of this semi-conductor facility included MNOS memory chips for an Air Force project and custom VLSI devices for the UYK-43 and UYK-44 projects.  It was also the site for research into radiation hardened CMOS technology under Dr. Wells.  I believe this building is now a NW Airlines computer center. [lab]