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Anecdotes: UNIVAC I, Serial 12 --in duPont

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129982D
Original Publication Date: 1997-Jan-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-07
Document File: 6 page(s) / 27K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

Walter Carlson: AUTHOR [+2]

Abstract

[Editor's Note: This anecdote is from Walter Carlson, who gives us insight into how large companies in the early years of mainframe computing made decisions about how and why to use the machines (besides the government, they were the only ones that could afford such behemoths).] In July 1954, the executive committee of the duPont Company authorized the acquisition of a UNIVAC I in a fashion that uniquely preserved the historic company tradition for testing new technologies. They merely followed their own way for deciding on research and development programs as part of their business strategy.) The duPont executives set aside a project proposal based on a savings return on investment and put in place a two-year experimental program. This is the story of how duPont made the decision to acquire Serial 12 of UNIVAC I and some of the consequences of that decision. In 1952, the Engineering Research Division at duPont's Experimental Station installed an IBM Card Programmed Calculator and used it for a wide range of studies involving instrumentation, fluid flow, and materials selection, among others. John Roberts made frequent presentations on the use of this facility.

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THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

Copyright ©; 1997 by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Anecdotes: UNIVAC I, Serial 12 --in duPont

Walter Carlson

[Editor's Note: This anecdote is from Walter Carlson, who gives us insight into how large companies in the early years of mainframe computing made decisions about how and why to use the machines (besides the government, they were the only ones that could afford such behemoths).]

In July 1954, the executive committee of the duPont Company authorized the acquisition of a UNIVAC I in a fashion that uniquely preserved the historic company tradition for testing new technologies. They merely followed their own way for deciding on research and development programs as part of their business strategy.) The duPont executives set aside a project proposal based on a savings return on investment and put in place a two-year experimental program. This is the story of how duPont made the decision to acquire Serial 12 of UNIVAC I and some of the consequences of that decision.

In 1952, the Engineering Research Division at duPont's Experimental Station installed an IBM Card Programmed Calculator and used it for a wide range of studies involving instrumentation, fluid flow, and materials selection, among others. John Roberts made frequent presentations on the use of this facility.

In early 1954, Granville M. Read, the chief engineer, brought together a task force of three people to tell him what he could do to apply electronic computing to the management of his engineering department. Significantly for my career, one of those three was Francis (Frank) Middleswart, who was director of the Management Engineering Consultants in the Engineering Service Division.

By May 1, the task force had developed and presented enough evidence that Read was convinced that he could proceed to buy an electronic computer and put it to use within his department. Two machines were then clothe market: the IBM 702 and the UNIVAC 1. Read asked, the task force to prepare a project request for one or the other. By mid-June, however, IBM had withdrawn the IBM 702, so the UNIVAC was the only choice available, at a price approaching $1,200,000.

Read also decided that he could achieve strong management improvements using the new technology and that the machine, if authorized, would be placed under a new organization in Middleswart's consulting group. Therefore, a search was undertaken for someone qualified to manage the operation and application of the computer. Details of the search are interesting, but they are another story.

Near the end of May, I was called in by my division manager, Stuart Knapp, and asked if I would consider leaving my field management assignment and taking on this new computer job. After a few days, I said yes and promptly took off for the Association for Computing Machinery annual meeting being held at the Universit...