Control Data Corporation

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Control Data Corporation (usually given as the acronym, CDC) was a company which had its main strengths in mainframes, and later, in supercomputers especially.

For most of this time, Seymour Cray, CDC's chief designer (he joined a year after CDC was started), was behind most of CDC's greatest machines - notably the CDC 6600 and its successor, the CDC 7600, the first of which famously took from IBM the crown of "the fastest computer in the world".

After Cray left CDC to start Cray Research, CDC slowly lost its way; in the early 1980s, it perennially lost money, and in 1988 CDC began to exit the computer business.

History

CDC's roots lie in a team set up the U.S. Navy early in World War II to build devices to help in cryptanalysis of both Japanese and German ciphers. After the war, a new company, Engineering Research Associates, was set up to keep the team together, and operating. ERA was sold to Remington Rand in 1952; Rand shortly thereafter merged with Sperry to form Sperry Rand. Friction with the corporate environment of Sperry Rand dissatisfied a number of the ERA team, and they left Sperry to form CDC in September, 1957.

Further reading

  • Arthur Lawrence Norberg; Computers and Commerce: A Study of Technology and Management at Eckert-Mauchly Computer Company, Engineering Research Associates, and Remington Rand; MIT Press, Cambridge, 2005 - covers the events leading to the split in detail
  • David E. Lundstrom, A Few Good Men from Univac, MIT Press, July 1987 - excellent work which covers the entire story, from ERA on

External links

  • Memorandum - Watson's famous memo on the CDC 6600, to which Cray reportedly laconically replied “It seems like Mr. Watson has answered his own question.”