BETWEEN THE LINES
(Did you know?)
CDC/CDA LOGO From John O'Neil
The 'dot-double arrow-dash' logo in the top RH corner of this page was the original CDC logo. The dot and dash represented data, (as in Morse code), and the double arrow represented control. It was used on tie clips that were presented to new employees in the 60s and 70s and the colour of the stone represented the number of years service (see photo) You may also recall the black and white Control, Data.Corporation rectangular logo, used on equipment name plates, boxes etc. The Control Data Australia Pty Ltd one on this web site is a modification of the Corporate one.
CONDATA From Ron Bird
From Ron Bird
When Control Data first started operations in Australia it used the name "CONDATA". The reason was that Ron Jelbart (Kim's father) had earlier registered the name DATA CONTROL with the company registration people and they had a problem with the two names similarity. This was resolved in 1963. However, CONDATA was retained as the Control Data Australia Telex address.
E L HEYMANSON From Trevor Robinson
The passing of Bill Norris brings to mind an incident worth sharing:
E.L.Heymanson & Co. Pty. Ltd. was appointed CDC distributor for Australia and NZ wef 1 January 1962.
The Australian subsidiary was formed on 17 May 1963 and "orders" for 2 x 3600's and 10 x 3200's were received on 19th June 1963 for the Bureau of Census and Statistics and CSIRO. This business ($US7, 000,000 plus) was big even by US standards.
I was summoned to Minneapolis and soon found myself in Mr Norris's office with four or five CDC lawyers and contract people who were telling Bill, quite correctly, that these were not orders but at this stage just an invitation to enter into contracts which, if signed, would become orders.
The obligation on CDC to pay Heymanson its commission (about $US360, 000 - a lot of money in 1963!) would end on 18 August 1963 and Mr Norris was being told that there was no way the contracts would be finalised by then so Control Data wouldn't have to pay Heymanson's. Bill looked at me and said: "Trevor, what do you think?"
I remember replying something to the effect that Heymanson's had done a good job and I thought they should be paid. Without any hesitation Bill Norris made his decision: "That's right; old Mr Heymanson (as he pronounced it) has done his job and we're going to pay him". And CDC did indeed pay Heymanson's even though they could have sniveled out of it. That was the measure of the man - Bill Norris had principles and it showed in the way Control Data operated.
Anyone interested in Seymour Cray and in the early history of CDA will enjoy an excellent account in a book: "The Supermen", author Charles J Murray, published by John Wiley and Sons, Inc. in 1997, ISBN 0-471-04885-2. My copy came from Amazon.
Regards, Trevor Robinson.
The E.L. Heymanson distributorship was the Corporation's first overseas
marketing operation, but a 1604 was installed at GCHQ in the UK in late 1960 or 1961, and there was a survey of the European market at about the same time resulting in the setting up of a European office in Lucerne,
Switzerland, in 1962. I once talked to Bob Price about getting the
Corporation to acknowledge CDA as the overseas first but I didn't get very far.
Bob Price has written a book, "The Eye for Innovation" which deals very
thoroughly with Control Data's ideas (read Bill Norris). Bob did a great
job and it has sold surprisingly well in the US (more then 6,000 copies).
It is not really a history of Control Data but does have some stuff on CDA.
It is still available from Amazon.
When the Museum of Victoria installed the ex-Monash 3200 they asked me about its provenance. I wrote up my version of the story which I think is interesting. It is possible to represent that the 3200 was designed
specially to meet the requirements of Census and CSIRO but I think the
Corporation's view is (or was) that the Australian requirements only
influenced the design and brought forward the release date. Incidentally
the first two machines to arrive in Australia (Canberra) were shipped to
avoid contract penalties and were not in a working state. Charlie Yates got them going as I recall.
A BRIEF OUTLINE OF THE AUSTRALIAN SYSTEMS DIVISION
The idea of a Corporate recognized systems capability in Australia had been a keystone in the strategic thinking of Trevor Robinson and his management team in Australia through the 60's. (See note on Special Systems.) We had actively pushed the Corporation to think in this direction from the original TAB 'Carbine' contract.
The key opportunity to achieve this came with the joint VicTAB/CDA 'Rimfire' study and contract. ETR connived with Ken Davis (GM of VicTAB) to ensure that the contract required that the system be developed in Australia, and that the majority of the terminals (TIMs) be manufactured in Australia.
In the first half of 1969, CDC decided to establish a systems division in Australia, with responsibility for all systems deliveries, installations and support within the Australasian and SE Asian area. Originally the Division was intended to start up in July of 1969, but due to corporate budgeting problems, and the switch of the corporate financial year to match the calendar year, was deferred to January 1970.
In the second half of 1969, JON (who had been in Minneapolis with CDC's Digital Control Systems Division since late 67) was appointed to a staff role to plan the new division.
In Australia, ETR had started to hire a few people with manufacturing and communications experience in anticipation of this. (e.g. Les Randell, Malcolm Thompson).
ASD opened in January 1970. To help smooth the startup, JON brought from Minneapolis 2 experience systems managers, Dale Rostamo and Ben Louw, and an accountant, Jim Matheis) familiar with the Corporate approach to accounting and financial reporting for Corporate systems divisions. Subsequently Dave Noer arrived to add corporate personnel experience to CDA. Formally, the new Division reported to Noel Stone in the Corporate Systems organization - this did not present any significant problems due to the close personal relationship between ETR & JON, and the hands off approach taken by Noel Stone. ASD also had one other US employee in MSP to act as our gopher in solving problems there.
ASD was manned largely by transferring analyst, programming and engineering staff from CDA, many of whom were already involved in projects, which now became the Division's responsibility. Additional personnel were hired as required, particularly for the manufacturing function. The Divisions centre of operations was co-located with CDA in 598 St Kilda Road.
In late 69, the initial facilities for manufacturing and design engineering were explored and in early 1970 a site was occupied in Herald St, Cheltenham. Later the logistics functions of Customer Engineering and ASD were combined; in 1972 (?) the functions were moved to Moorabin. At a later date, the CE Logistics function was moved to a site in Thornbury.
In 1971, to meet the requirements of NZTAB, ASD developed a modified ticketing terminal (D-TIM) that shared a single ticket printer between 2 ticketing stations.
In late 1971, a change in management in the corporate systems organization led to a 'doctrinal' decision to move to a few large systems divisions, and ASD and other smaller systems divisions were closed.
(Lesson - As in politics, beware the ambitious bastards who have dogmatic and doctrinal views on how things should be (and ignore the data).)
For a year or two after the closure of ASD, JON continued to field phone calls from Corporate types asking why the Australian payroll still had so many people when they'd closed this Division (which at the peak had some 100 to 150 people). They couldn't understand that we still had to continue the development of contracted customer systems, build terminals etc.
The software development activities were placed in the CDA Analyst Services organization, and the Manufacturing and Engineering functions drifted around within CDA eventually reporting to Customer Engineering. Despite this, they successfully developed a new ticketing terminal for QTAB, participated in the development of and manufactured the GWS for VicTAB. After the VicTAB cancelled the GWS contract, leading the Corporation to decide withdraw from other wagering systems activities, the manufacturing facility converted to manufacture of 8" and 5 ¼" floppy disks.
A NOTE ON CDA'S SPECIAL SYSTEMS
In 1963/4 a number of the early employees of CDA discussed where we could go in the Australian market. Despite Control data's initial success with the Bureau of Stats and with CSIRO we recognized that there was a limited market for CDC systems outside the large government requirements and the universities - at that time the IBM 1401 was the typical commercial system.
John O'Neil February 2008
From Trevor's choice, many of us (eg Trevor, Bruce Bambrough, George Karoly, Peter Jones, and myself had scientific and engineering backgrounds and were keen to sell into application areas which would allow use of this expertise, and development of Australian content. An early choice was communications based and real-time systems (new in those days!).
We were pretty successful in achieving this - out of proportion to the size of CDC compared to IBM, and even the other 7 dwarfs.
1. 1964/5. Joint development with CSIRO of a drum-
based,time-sharing operating system for the
3600 (left the Tape based OS for dead).
2. 1966/67 The VicTAB 'Carbine' system - on-line,
3. 1967/69 A message switch for the RAAF.1969-
4. 1968/70 A similar message switch for the NZ Ministry
5. 1968/70 A real-time, failsafe operating system for dual
CDC3300s, developed for BHP and AIS
6. 1969/70 An on-course totalisator system for the Royal Thai
7. 1969-71 The VicTAB 'Rimfire' system.
8. 1972/74 The NZTAB system.
9. 1972/74 Development as joint study with VicTAB - the
Generalised Wagering System. Sold to
VicTAB,QTAB, NZTAB, and Natal TAB.
The first 4 examples clearly established CDA's credentials to engage in systems development activities, and set the scene for Trevor to press for a formal recognition of the capabilities within CDA, and the formation of a "Systems Division" in Australia.