A few good men from Univac by David E. Lundstrom

By David E. Lundstrom

During this own memoir, electric engineer David Lundstrom remembers the heyday of early computing, the increase of regulate facts out of the Univac department of Sperry Rand, such milestone computers because the Univac and the Naval Tactical information approach the exploits of CDC's most sensible fashion designer Seymour Cray, and the sluggish company shift from the fascinating and technically attention-grabbing global of laptop layout to inner politics and clumsy forms. - writer.  Read more...

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Each seemingly inn ocuous change caused unexpe cted problems elsewhere in the computer that on being correc ted, caused still other une xpect ed prob lems. Change followed change, and the schedule for our five production comp uters conti nued to slip. ERA Division now compo unded the probl em of communicati ons by opening a brand new headquarters plan t on West ith Street in St Paul on the east bank of the Mississippt Rive r. Our Univac II production group was 22 On Technology and Geography to move to the new plant and assemble the first five produ ction computers there; Ward Lund's development group was to remain in the old glider factory.

It took me a while to figure out what was going on. Apparently the visitors, knowing nothing at all about computers, saw nothing unusual in a million and a half dollar Univac system playing a crude "Beer Barrel Polka" while the tapes jumped up and down in time to the music. What was unusual to see was an electric typewriter typing by itself. The assemblers it seemed knew just enough about computers to understand that they are not designed to play music and that some clever programming had been done.

A constant problem for Univac dur ing this period was the resignation of key engineers. The e ngineers who are techn ically the sharpest are invariably the most restless and the first to leave if they are not kept busy on challenging assignments. Control Data was continuously dr aining our engineering talent, It was widely be lieved at the time th at the founders of Control Data had taken a Univac telephone directory with th em, and when th ey needed, say, a designer of memory circuitry, the y would simply flip through the directory until they found a name they remembered as a good memory designe r.

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