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Information Technology (IT) Pioneers

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

Legacy Anthology Chapter 1

    These 60+ Legacy Anthology chapters are a living web site; now an 18-year volunteers' project documenting our Information Technology industry history, continuing yet today at Unisys as illustrated by this Legacy Companies icon.  The corporate names changed as many of us had careers spanning two or more decades during the 20th century. 
   Over 600 people have contributed items to this anthology. The chapters linked herein are Wikipedia like in that they have embedded links to supplemental information. For example, books listed in Our Stories include the ERA/UNIVAC products from 1947 to 1959. 

  • [7/10] Posted John M Lindley's "Born of a Wartime Necessity": From Combat Gliders to Computers in Minnesota, 1941-1946.  Read how NAC became ERA, linked from section 2 of Our Stories.
    Posted Evan Ramstad's Nov. 22, '22 Star/Tribune article; Minnesota companies once dominated the supercomputer industry. What happened? Includes ERA's Post-war code-breaking - linked from section 3 of our stories.
  • [6/28] Simplified subchapter tabs atop the Legacy chapters.
  • [5/30] Posted the June and July articles, https://vipclubmn.org/OurStories.html#2024
  • [5/7] Posted the May Our Stories, a compendium of newsletter legacy stories since January 2022. 
  • [4/8] Posted the April Our Stories, ERA/RRU Early Machines.  Extractions from previously classified NSA documents, which were found by Keith Myhre searching for ATLAS I information.
  • [3/16] Posted the March Our Stories, UNIVAC memories by John Walker as formatted by Lowell.

This search box is for your use to locate items or people in/on our website.  Table of Contents or People index may aid your query. The embedded Google javascript may first identify sites from your browser's cache; then it lists the finds within this site. In the found page(s); use your browser's 'Ctrl Find' function to jump to your topic.

1.0 Anthology Overview

 Our Legacy (Ch 1-8) consists of People (Ch 10-29) at Locations (Ch 30-39) who Engineered (Ch 40-49) Computers (Ch 50-59) and Systems (Ch 60-69) used throughout the world.  Exhibits (Ch 90) and Our Stories (Ch 100) complement and supplement this Legacy.  During our early 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. 
Foremost throughout this Legacy are the people; most now enjoying retirees' camaraderie; others still working at UNISYS and other high-tech companies in Minnesota and throughout the world plus many customers/users who have found our site and made contributions. Several threads weave their way through the ownership history:

  • 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 several other Midwest colleges.

When we eventually write a book, because of the physical size, i.e. printed page count; we may have to publish our legacy/history as volumes (maybe seven of them as numbered hereunder?).

  1. People - Almost 600 project experiences and career summaries from and/or about the people who have experienced parts of this Legacy.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Systems - Aerospace, Airborne, Air Traffic Control, Naval Tactical Data Systems, Marine Systems, Air Force, ASOC, Government, and Commercial since the File Computer systems in the 50s. This century, people might just call them apps.
  6. 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.
  7. 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 chapters.
  8. Contacts and Links - Many web sites provide heritage related information.  Also, we have provided links to several 'educational' sites for youth who want to investigate Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) careers. 

2.0 Computer History Archives Project (CHAP)

CHAP supplements and complements our Anthology chapters. Their "Playlist" simply makes YouTube videos easy to access through one link.
  Computer History Archives PLAYLIST for ERA / UNIVAC family of computers, One month into 2023, Director Mark Greenia began making the Computer History film PLAYLISTS. The first one updated and posted was the ERA / UNIVAC playlist. VIP legacy committee members have helped with the development of several of these {CHAP/Club paper, http://vipclubmn.org/Articles/CHAP_SummaryRev1.pdf.} These YouTube videos provide a fascinating early history of ERA / UNIVAC / Unisys family of computers from the beginnings of “Engineering Research Associates” (1946) , the EMCC UNIVAC I of 1951, and into the 60's and beyond.
Enjoy these tas each looks back into history. The Playlist includes original Remington-Rand, Sperry, and Burroughs films. It currently contains 32 films, with room for more in the future - Sincerely, Mark Greenia, Director, Computer History Archives Project [1/15/2023]

 3.0 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.  Retirees Lowell Benson and Dick Lundgren immediately volunteered to be part of the committee.
    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 or timelines 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." 

 YouTube videos have been put together by Mark Greenia telling parts of the story; as chief editor for the Computer History Archives Project he has generated a plethora of video images summarized by Articles/CHAP_SummaryRev1.pdf. An excerpted timeline of the ERA 1st computers shows what was happening in the early 50's:

4. Legacy Project Successes

No, we did not create a Blog nor Facebook nor Tweet nor a Wiki-pedia section because we wanted to assure accuracy of information, identify the source of information, and to integrate with inputs from others. 

  • On June 15th 2023 we participated in commemerating ERA with a plaque at 1902 Minnehaha Avenue.
  • In 2023 we reset the artifact displays aroung the perimeter of the Lawshe Memorial Museum's Great Room, the largest collection of defense industry computer artifacts in the world!
  • In 2022 we surpassed the goal of 200 career summaries and over 400 article contributions.
  • Significant support of the development of the 2019 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 development 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 in 2013.
  • 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.
  • Bernie 'Mike' Svendsen led an effort in 2013 to document the history of semi-conductor developments in the Twin Cities area, Semiconductors at UNIVAC (vipclubmn.org).
  • 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.
  • Conducted oral/video interviews with about three dozen retired persons, browse to People Interviewed Chapter.
  • 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.
  • Displayed the Legacy and NTDS participation during the 2011 50th Government Contractor Assn Forum at the University of Minnesota.
  • Displayed snippets of the Legacy for two 2010 semesters in the U of MN Walter Library, Legacy-University_of_MinnesotaRev1.pdf (vipclubmn.org). 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. [9/5/21] Created new computer genealogy charts from old combined and defense charts plus modern information - see computers' chapters.
  • 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.
  • Earl Vraa led a group in 209 documenting the Computer Aided Design development at UNIVAC, see articles 130 through 133 at VIP Club - Legacy Stories (vipclubmn.org).
  • 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. 
  •  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. 
  • 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.

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, click here. 

5. Thank You to:

  •   The 600+ retirees, active employees, customers, and former equipment users who have contributed to our Legacy Anthology.
  •  The Dakota County Commissioners who approved an ADA accessibility project for 2021 & 2022 thereby extending the life of the Lawshe Memorial Museum and our artifact display.  
  • 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.
  • Mr. Chad Roberts, President and CEO of the Ramsey County Historical Society, for coordinating the June 15th ERA Plaque commeration and for starting the Club's artifact exhibit at the Lawshe Memorial Museum   The Minnesota High-Tech Association for managing a Minnesota State legacy grant developing the Twin Cities Public Television (TPT) documentary.
  •   Mr. Dale Weeks who worked in the background to raise funding for the TPT documentary development and a special Minnesota technology history website.
  • Mr. Don Hall, author of Generation of Wealth, The rise of CDC, who provided seed money to erect a plaque recognizing the importance of ERA to Minnesota and the World.
  • Mr. Mark Greenia, Director of the Computer History Archives Project (CHAP). Mark has led the efforts to develop over a dozen YouTube videos documenting the history of UNIVAC-Unisys equipment.
  • Retirees Keith Myhre and Les Nelson who resurected the electronics of a multi-screen Valiant workstation to provide museum vistors with live information displays.

   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 CP-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.

Special thanks to Dr. Tom Misa - former Director, Charles Babbage Institute at the University of Minnesota.  From 2007 into 2018, Tom was an advisor to our Legacy committee giving valuable advice on what to preserve and how to do some of that preservation. He also developed a book, The Digital State, incorporating some of our committee findings and referenced some of our web chapters in his Technology History Class lectures. Frosting on the Cake, Tom was the principal narrater of the TPT documentary!

6. Acronyms

We have not listed the various military equipment nomenclatures that are assigned according to MIL-HDBK-6, i. e. Military Handbook # 6. Examples are 1) the AN/USQ-20B systems aboard Navy ships used the CP-642B computer and 2) the AN/ASQ-114 system aboard the P-3C used the CP-901 computer.

ASAArmy Security Agency ARTSAutomated Radar Terminal System (FAA) ASWAnti-Submarine Warfare
ATCAir Traffic Control   B & PBid and ProposalBINACBINary Automatic Computer
CADComputer Aided Design  CBICharles Babbage Institute at the University of Minnesota CDC Control Data Corporation
CHAPComputer History Archives Project CHMComputer History Museum CMS-2 Compiler-Monitor System (US Navy OS)
CSAW Communications Supplementary Activity-Washington DCHSDakota County Historical Society DS Data System Technician (US Navy)
EDSACElectronic Discrete Variable Computer  EDVACElectronic Discrete Variable Automatic Computer   EMCC Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation   
ENIACElectronic Numerical Integrator and Computer ERAEngineering Research Associates, Inc. FAA Federal Aviation Administration
FMSForeign Military Sales GPSGlobal Positioning System HSA Hollandse Signaal Apparaten
IBMInternational Business Machines IEEE Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers IFF Identification, Friend or Foe
ITInformation Technology ISAInstruction Set Architecture   LMCO Lockheed Martin Corporation
MATCALSMarine Air Traffic Control And Landing System MTDSMarine Tactical Data Systems NASA National AeroSpace Administration
NEL Navy Electronics Laboratory NSANational Security Agency NTDS Naval Tactical Data Systems
OSOperating System (software control)     PDA Product Development Associates
PPI Plan Position Indicator POFA Programmed Operational Functional Appraisals RCHS Ramsey County Historical Society
RFPRequest For Proposal RFQRequest For Quote RGOD Roseville Good Old Days
RRURemington Rand Univac  SDCSystems Development Corporation STEM Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics
TPTTwin cities Public Television U of MNUniversity of MinNesota    UNISYS UNited Information SYStems (Burroughs plus Sperry)
UNIVACUNIVersal Automatic Computers USNUnited States Navy USS United States Ship

 

Chapter 1 edited 7/10/2024.

Chapter 1 Content

1. Anthology Overview
2. CHAP
3. Background
4. Committee
5. Success Log
6. Thank Yous
7. Acronyms

Anthology inputs are yet open; you write it and we'll find a place for it.
We proudly fly the American Flag, thanks to usfamily.net for the .gif image.

4. Committee

Our 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 by writing and editing stories.  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 if we could get 200 mini-bios from people we would have told 'The Story'.  Ole said that he would solicit mini-bios and product/systems development stories.  Lowell started a web site in March 2006 to make the stories and mini-bios public.  The Legacy Committee set three  objectives:

  1. to capture whatever remaining material and information we can,
  2. to catalog and archive all the material collected, and
  3. 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: Engineering Manager Lowell Benson, Systems Engineer Bill Bergen, Component Engineer Larry Bolton;Staff Engineer Carl Johnson; Publicist Tom Lindquist; Instructor/Writer Dick Lundgren; Systems Engineer Tom Montgomery; Systems Engineer & Marketing Manager Keith Myhre;  Systems Engineer Les Nelson, Program Manager Bob Pagac; Systems Engineer Jon Simon; UNISYS Fellow Ron Q. Smith, VP of Procurement and Semiconductor Development Mike Svendsen; Engineering Manager Harvey Taipale; Engineering Manager Earl Vraa, and Program Manager John Westergren.

We've had steadfast archiving support and guidance; first from Dr. Norberg, then for over a decade from Dr. Thomas Misa, now Dr. Jeffrey Yost, and the staff at the Charles Babbage Institute (CBI) at the University of Minnesota. 

Sadly, many of our committee contributors have passed away during this Legacy initiative: Warren Becker, Warren Burrell, Millie Gignac - Human Resources Director and Club Founder, Quint Heckert, Bernie Jansen, Bill Klingner, Tricia Myhre, Edwin Nelson, Richard 'Ole' Olson, Jim 'Rapp' Rapinac, Jack Sater, Marc Shoquist, Tom Turba, Harry Weis, Don Weidenbach, Paul Welshinger, ...