GE - First National Bank - Explorer Scouts - 1960
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ON THE FRONT COVER - This month's cover focuses attention on two significant events in Arizona. The first, to which this issue is dedicated, is Career Night/1960. This event is described in detail elsewhere.

Traveling side by side, and really a part of Career Night/1960, are the many other worthwhile projects designed to awaken interest in engineering and science.

The Explorer Scout troop pictured at GE's Computer plant generally operates out of the Peoria Ave. facilities "dabbling" in engineering. To mark the second significant event, they were invited to witness the nation's first magnetic ink character recognition (MICR) computer service bureau just instituted by GE.

Standing, from left, are Bob Lutz, Charles Thomas, Clyde Hunnicutt and instructor J. David Naumann. Seated at the console is plant foreman John Fast. Other employee-instructors are James Winegardner, Dale Hess and John Kimball.


The equipment shown is the new all­transistorized GE-210 data processing system which will be used dually by GE and by the First National Bank of Arizona to process checking accounts. First National becomes the first bank in Arizona and the second in the nation to apply this system.

The computer-controlled system will per­form each step in processing accounts in just 32 millionths of a second. It will sort and post 550 accounts per minute. By comparison, an efficient bookkeeper, with a year's experience can do the sorting and posting for 245 accounts per hour.

General Electric's computer center installation will handle 110,000 accounts. Once the proper information is fed into the system, it can do all of the sorting and posting for 110,000 accounts in just three hours and 22 minutes.  


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Bank personnel operate sorters.
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   The computer center will be used by First National during night-time hours. General Electric will use the system during daytime operations for customer training and programming, service and sales demonstrations.

Heart of the new electronic bookkeeping system is a character reader which translates Arabic numbers and symbols printed in magnetic ink. The numerals are both eye-readable and machine-readable. They are printed in a stylized font - Font E-13B developed by General Electric's Computer Department and standardized by American Bankers Association.

Bank customers have been issued personal check and deposit slips imprinted in magnetic ink across the lower edge. The checks are similar in appearance to conventional checks, with exception of the magnetic-ink characters.

The magnetic characters indicate the depositor's account number, bank branch and other accounting information. When a customer writes a check on the bank, he writes the amount in regular ink, per the usual custom. When the check arrives at the bank for processing, the amount is imprinted in magnetic ink by an encoding machine. From then on, it is handled by the computer controlled system, even to printing transactions on monthly statements.

The computer system permits direct reading of checks and deposit slips. Thus, no costly and time-consuming translation is required to transfer information onto punched cards or tape.

Essentially, the all-transistorized GE-210 system now used by First National comprises document handlers, an electronic computer to control the entire system, control console, tape units for storing information, a printer and other input and output accessories. The printer, through directions from the computer, prepares customer and branch-bank statements at 900 lines per minute, or about 50 complete statements per minute.


Hammond Collection at SMECC


wpe1.gif (388573 bytes)   First National Bank of Arizona -  Bert Fireman

........ In 1926 the National Bank of Arizona became known as the First National Bank. Nine years later it was merged with the Phoenix National Bank, adopting its present name. Purchase of the Tempe National Bank, the Miners and Merchants Bank of Bisbee, and the Phoenix Savings Bank & Trust Company and merger with the Bank of Arizona completed the present banking structure.

A larger bank, with greater resources, was needed for the greater demands of Arizona's phenomenal expansion. Today, First National Bank of Arizona, with total resources exceeding $400,000,000.00, is the second largest bank in the entire Rocky Mountain· region.

Today the abacus and the gold scale are museum relics, reminders of the traditional employment of whatever was best and most useful at any period of time.

Modern banking is characterized by the same courtesy that was a cornerstone of the original friendly, neighborhood bank. But efficiency in keeping with modern business demands and continued growth has made the GEEP Center the heart of bank bookkeeping and accounting.

The GEEP is the General Electric Electronic Processor, a complex device that performs accounting steps far beyond any individual's ability..

This computer system is capable of making one million arithmetic computations every minute. .

The magnetic tape units read and write at speeds of 30,000 numeric characters per second - faster than 60,000 nimble-fingered clerks· each provided with an abacus.

It is capable of such fantastic speed that the computer can add 15,000 six-digit numbers in less than one second.

But all through this evolution from abacus to computer the keystones of First National banking have not changed. The human elements of personal attention and personal courtesy remain the guideposts of the bank. ' Now the First National Bank of Arizona has more than 70 offices to service the financial demands of nearly 1˝ million residents. The most important tools are still the ones used in 1877 when First National was established with a paid-in capital of $25,000.00 . . . trust and confidence, security and service.

(a section from  Bert Fireman's article "Keystone in the progress of the Territory... the human element!"  that appeared in Arizona Days and Ways Magazine Feb. 11, 1962  for the  50th anniversary of Arizona's statehood)


First National Bank of Arizona
General Electric 210 Check Processing Computer.

From Bank Notes A privately printed book by the bank on their history. It is  # 565 of a special gift edition of 1000 in the SMECC Library. Note that  the text in this book though brief is in error. The book shows these pictures and claim the data center employs 650 people. That might have been true in 1971 when this book was published but not during the early 60s when the GE 210 was online.

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Who are these people? Models?  GE Employees?  Bank employees?  Will we ever know?


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Officials of First National Bank of Arizona tryout their new General Electric 210 information processing system on the curb during delivery of computer to the Bank's new data processing site. First National is expected to be the nation's first bank to be fully operational with this type of equipment.



©APRIL, 1961 Arizona Engineer and Scientist  - The Hammond Collection at SMECC




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