GE Information Systems
Home ] Up ] GE ERMA - 100 Series - The Start ] Frontiers of Progress - 1961 Sales Meeting ] 1956 GE Computer Symposium ] GE - First National Bank - Explorer Scouts - 1960 ] G.E. 200 Series Computers ] Clifford Bragg - GE Field Service ] An Ecological Theory of the Creation of the Computer Industry - G. Snively ] George Snively's 1961 G.E. Frontiers of Progress Skit ] Letters from George Snively to Barney Oldfield ] Leasing Computers At GE - George Snively ] It Goes 'PING' - George Snively ] Out Into The World - George Snively ] Tall Tales From the Early Days of the G.E. Computer Department - George Snively ] Naughty Marietta - George Snively ] A Strange and Motley Crew - G.E. George Snively ] General Electric Parts Explosion Software Audit ] Paper Tape Reader PTR 61c ] Receivables Management - George Snively ] GE Employee Photos ] Good Loans! - George Snively ] General Electric Management Course - George Snively ] GE 400 Series Computers ] Senator Barry Goldwater visits GE Computer in 1958 ]



ERMA - the GE 100 Series - The Start of it all!



1956 GE Computer Symposium



1960 article  - Explorer Scouts visit the GE Computer plant on Peoria Ave to see the GE 210 that was also used  by First National Bank of Arizona. Many other articles also related to GE and this Banking Company! - Explore them all!



Frontiers Of Progress 
The 1961 Sales meeting in Apache Junction Arizona



G.E."George" SNIVELY Credit & Collection

See the original script For George Snively's Skit
at the 1961 "Frontiers of Progress" Sale Meeting!



Presentation by George Snively to GE Computer Department Reunion.

A Strange and Motley Crew
G.E. George Snively

Naughty Marietta An Odorous Drama in Three Acts  
George Snively


Tall Tales From the Early Days of the G.E. Computer Department
- George Snively

Out Into The World - George Snively

"It Goes PING"
George Snively

Leasing Computers at General Electric
By George Snively

Clifford Bragg - GE Field Service

General Electric Parts Explosion System Application Audit


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(Click to enlarge image.)

This is a  commemorative token medal in recognition of  10 years Manufacturing General Electric Computers in Phoenix.  1957-1967.  General Electric Computer Systems Information Systems Equipment.  It is a bit smaller that the size of a silver dollar and is probably made of aluminum.

Late News

GE PLANS EXPANSION - A significant increase in plant amounting to roughly 400,000 square feet has been announced by General Electric/Computer. The increase will be primarily devoted to augmenting production ability and will cost about $4 million.

©ARIZONA ENGINEER & SCIENTIST  1964 - Page 4 The Hammond Collection at SMECC

(click photo to visit this article)

Paper Tape Reader

Model PTR 61c

James Larson shares with us not only the original circuit but also how this vintage  tape reader can be interfaced to an IBM PC!



        The IBM contract to replace the ERMA systems had a delivery
penalty.    IBM was to pay the ERMA maintenance until their system was up
and running.

        For 18 months I had the monthly joy of phoning IBM and dunning them
for payment of the $250,000 monthly bill.   Today, it's hard to conceive of
such amounts.



"YOU/and the Computer"

produced by

 Printed in 1965 and used to introduce students (usually employees) to the rapidly growing world of computers.  It uses anecdotes, cartoons, and pictures in presentation of existing and future computer applications.  Included are the computer's capacity, how it works the same as humans, programming, the binary code, symbolic languages, memory, computer operation and how you talk to a computer.





GE COMPUTER DEPARTMENT Event (Time) Line ( from the retirees)

1948 GE's Electronic's Laboratory, Syracuse, NY, builds OARAC vacuum tube computer for Wright Patterson Air Force Base.

1952 Homer (Barney) Oldfield1 opens the Advanced Electronics Center (AEC) in Ithaca, NY, as General Manager; Walker Dix2, Engineering Manager. PING putter designed by AEC engineer Karsten Solhein in his garage.

1953 Heavy Military Electronics Department (HMED), Syracuse, NY, awarded contract for development and production of the Radio Guidance & Tracking system for the Atlas ICBM, with Dr. Lewis Neelands as chief architect of the overall system. The 'information procesing' sub-system was named MISTRAM (Missile TRAjectory Measurement), with John Couleur as lead architect.

1954 Barney Oldfield founds the Microwave Laboratory at Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA.

1955 Spring George Metcalf's Report on the future of the Electronics Industry. Chapter on 'Electronic Computers', authored by Clair Lasher, predicted that, believe it or not, 'Electronic Computers' would become commercially feasible and the fastest growing segment of the Electronics Industry.

1955 Summer Claire Lasher, assisted by George Snively and others, under the auspices of the Technical Electronics Equipment Department prepared a business plan to go into the Computer Business. Claire asks Oldfield to check into the SRI ERMA project for him. The plan was returned from Ralph Cordiner with a big 'No RJC'. scribbled across it with an orange crayon.


1955 October Bob (Dr.Robert R.) Johnson transfers from the Syracuse Electronics Lab to the Microwave Lab as its Engineering Manager. Bob and his associates play a major role in the ERMA proposal and in the early design and development of the ERMA machine. He later transferred to Phoenix as the Computer Department's Engineering manager.

1955 Fall Dr. Baker approves B of A Letter of Intent for $30 million of ERMA (Electronic Recording Method of Accounting) systems as a "process computer" and authorizes $50,000 to write a proposal and negotiate contract. (Final contract not signed until shipment of the last ERMA system, by which time the contract value had increased to $50 million total.)

1956 February 3 ERMA proposal submitted to B of A, negotiations begin. Cordiner wanted no part of this business. In fact, it's believed that the only reason Cordiner let Baker's group make a bid was because Cordiner was assured by his staff that IBM would win the contract hands down.

1956 May ? Ken McCombs opens Computer Department payroll account for himself, Owen Lindley and George Snively. (Barney Oldfield on Microwave Laboratory and later transferred to the Technical Electronics Equipment Department's payroll. Not added to CD payroll until fall 1956.)

1956 June 28 Industrial Computer Section holds Computer Symposium at Electronics Park in Syracuse. Barney Oldfield shown as General Manager, Computer Department, reporting to Harold Strickland, Industrial Electronics Division. Geiser, Lasher, Barclay, McCombs & Newman shown as sub-section managers. Barney Oldfield interviews Dr. Herbert R. J. Grosch.

1956 July ? Office opened in Lee Lee Building, above Wittig's Ice Cream Parlor, on East Gennesse Street in Syracuse. Ray Barclay, Art Newman & Ken Geiser added to CD payroll.

1956 August ? Site selection team formed.

1956 September NCR Contract signed for development of the ERMA check reader.

1956 November 2 Herb Grosch calls a press conference in Tempe, Arizona andprematurely announces that he has selected Phoenix and the rest will follow. He announces a computer center to be established at Arizona Normal (later State) University with an IBM704 computer (which he diverted from the Jet Engine Department in Evendale, Ohio, and which had a military priority!)

1956 November 5 Site team selects Phoenix as the site. Barney Oldfield prepares a $5,000 Appropriations Request for a sales office in Phoenix to liaison with B of A. Will hand carry to Harld Strickland's office to try to get approval.

1956 November ? GE signs option on 1,000 acres accumulated from John Jacobs, (?) Eaton and one other, on Black Canyon Hwy at Thunderbird Road.

1956 November 17 Barney sends Manufacturing people (Stan Brown, Earl Kittle, Don Reed and wives) on the road to Phoenix with orders to call in each night to receive instructions as to whether or not to keep proceeding.

1956 November 20 Strickland signs $5,000 appropriation. Oldfield calls the Lee Lee building and the engineers in the General Engineering Lab in Schenectady and tells us to get on the road to Phoenix. He will be unavailable after he hangs up.

1956 November 26 Manufacturing people procure office space on the 5th floor of the new First National Bank of Arizona at 401 North Central Avenue, Phoenix, AZ. Sign on door read "GE Computer Department".

1956 Installation of the first Atlas Radio Guidance system begins at Cape Canaveral, Florida; Walker Dix, Site Manager.

1957 January ? Additional space acquired on the 2nd floor of the KTAR building on North Central Avenue.

???? ERMA project moved into facility on Charleston Road in Moutainview, CA.

1957 Computer Department leases ASU's new Engineering building.

1957 ? Eaton builds 5,000-sq. ft. facility on Peoria Ave. to lease to Computer Department.

1957 October Product Scope meeting creates charter for a 'Computer Department'.

1958 Deer Valley plant built.

1959 February First ERMA shipped. Upon delivery, Ronald Regan hosted the press event.

1959 April Cordiner fires Oldfield following the ERMA dedication ceremony at the B of A. Claire Lasher appointed Acting General Manager with orders to complete the ERMA and NCR 304 contracts and to get out of the 'Business Machine' business and concentrate on process computers. Next 18 months spent planning the' Big Look' in an attempt to get Cordiner's decision reversed.

1959 Decision to launch the GE-225, a 20-bit computer, designed by Arnold Spielberg4 and Chuck Prosper, based on the GE-312 and GE-412 process control computers.

1960 HMED receives Cordiner's okay to market a militarized/hardened version of the "MISTRAM" information processor. as the the M-236 ("M" as in military, "36" as in 36-bit) computer.

1960 Decision to launch the Mosiac line, a family of 24-bit computers, as the GE-400 series.

1961 Spring Claire Lasher gets OK to implement the 'Big Look' from Cordiner.

1961 May Second First Annual National Sales meeting at Superstition Hotel in Apache Junction, AZ, kicks off the 'Big Look'. (The 'First Annual' meeting was canceled when Claire didn't get an earlier meeting with Cordiner.)

1962 Start of the design of the GE-235, a faster version of the GE-225.

1962 CD commences design/development of the 'Y-series' computer as the high performance upgrade of the GE-400 line.

1962 HMED commences development of the M-2360 as a high performance upgrade of the M-236.

1962 July First sales pitch by John Couleur for M-2360 versus the Mosiac"Y. machine.

1963 1Q An evaluation team, led by Dr. Don Shell, manager of the Mathematics Department, GE Research Lab, reviews the design and status of the Computer Department's 'Y' machine and HMED's M-2360. The team recommends the latter as the next large scale computer to be offered by GE (as the GE-600 Series.)

1963 February Clair Lasher replaced by Harrison Van Aken as general manager of the Computer Department.

1963 CD's Advanced System Lab and Dartmouth College begin development of a time-sharing operating system, including the Basic language, running on GE-235 and Datanet-30 hardware. The system became operational in 1964, and the software became the Dartmouth Time Sharing System (DTSS).

1963 Ralph Cordiner retires; Fred Borch selected as his successor.

1964 First shipment of the Datanet-30, a data communications mini-computer, designed by Bill Bridges based on the GE-312 process control computer.

1964 First shipment of the 24-bit GE-400 series.

1964 Discussions with MIT's Project MAC group, led by John Couleur, re modifications/additions to the GE-635 architecture to address Project MAC's time-share needs; start of development to implement such changes in a new product designated as the GE-645.

1964 March Lou Rader re-hired from Univac as VP, Industrial Electronics Division

1964 June Announcement of the GE-600 line, based on the Syracuse M-2360 hardware, with GECOS (General Electric Comprehensive Operation System) developed in Phoenix.

1964 November Formal take-over of Bull by GE.

1964 August Contract signed with MIT (for Project MAC) for a GE-645. The software, a new paged time-sharing system named MULTICS (MULTiplexed Information and Computing Service), to be developed jointly by GE's Cambridge Information Systems Laboratory (CISL, reporting to Phoenix), MIT and Bell Labs.

1965 April First shipment of the GE-635 prototype, with GECOS I software.

1965 Introduction of the packaged GE-265 system, consisting of the GE-235 and Datanet-30 hardware (235+30=265) and the DTSS/Basic software, achieving fame as the first fully integrated commercial "time-sharing system" and the backbone of GE's Time-Sharing business.

1965 Licenses negotiated with Toshiba and Nippon Electric Co. (NEC) for manufacture of the GE-600 line.

1965 November First release of GECOS II.

1966 January H. Van Aken replaced by Lou Wengert as general manager.

1967 January GE-645 delivered to Project MAC.

1967 GE-645 hardware group transferred to HMED, Syracuse, reporting to Walker Dix.

1967 First release of GECOS III, with an embedded time-sharing sub-system (TSS).

1967 Development started for the GE-655, a new design with integrated circuit modules, liquid cooling, 2x the speed of the GE-635, and start of construction of a new manufacturing facility at Deer Valley to produce the new IC modules.

1968 First release of the IDS (Integrated Data Store) data base software for the GE-600 line, one of the first database management systems; developed by Charles W. Bachman6.

1968 GE creates a new Computer Division, consisting of the Large Systems Department (LSD), the Medium Systems Department (MSD, The Small Systems Department (SSD) and the Special Information Systems Department (SIPD). The Computer Division grew into the GE Information Systems Group, with 25,000 employees and $1.5 billion in installations.

1968 Transfer of the HMED engineering sub-section responsible for the M-2106 development (largely intact, and tagged with "The Syracuse Mafia" moniker ), along with the recently transferred GE-645 group, to Phoenix as the nucleus of LSD's hardware engineering staff. Walker Dix appointed Engineering section manager.

1968 December Stanford Smith is replaced by Hillard Page as VP Information Systems Group; John Hanstra appointed Information Systems Equipment Division Manager.

1969 Jul-Oct Shangri-La seminar at Hollywood-by-the-Sea, Florida, to formulate a plan for a new GE Advanced Product Line

1969 August John Hanstra dies in his private aircraft crash; John Burlingame named in replacement.

1970 Oct GE's computer systems business, less the time-sharing business, is sold to Honeywell, Inc, and becomes part of Honeywell Information Systems (HIS), consisting of the facilities and personnel at Phoenix and Oklahoma City (GE) and at Bellerica and Foxboro (Honeywell), and presided over by Clarence (Clancy) Spangle as one of two major groups of Honeywell, Inc. Norman Feldman named VP of the Phoenix Computer Operations (PCO), reporting to Lee Sheenam, VP of the Computer Systems Division (CSD); Walker Dix named as PCO Director-Engineering.

1973 May Honeywell announces reorganization of CSD reorganization, with four operations reporting to Lee Sheehan: The Computer Systems Division Operations, headed by VP Norm Feldman, responsible for assisting Lee Sheenan at the divisional level in the general management of CSD; the Phoenix Computer Operations, headed by VP Norm Feldman (Acting), responsible for the Manufacturing, Quality Control, Finance and Employee Relations functions at Phoenix, Oklahoma City and San Diego; the Boston Computer Operations, headed by VP Lee Sheehan (acting), responsible for the same functions at Billerica and Foxboro; and the Engineering Operations, headed by VP Walker Dix, responsible for all Engineering functions across CSD.

1973 First shipment of the GE-655 as the Honeywell 6080.

1988 Honeywell Information Systems, Group Bull and NEC form a new entity named Honeywell Bull.

1991 Honeywell Information Systems sold to Groupe Bull. The new entity is named 'Bull HN'.

Compiled by Walker Dix, 23 April 2009
Revised 23 May 2009


1 Computer Pioneer Award, 1997, for "Pioneering work in the development of banking applications through the implementation of ERMA, and the introduction of computer manufacturing to GE".

2 GE Cordiner Award, 1963, for "Contributions as Program Manager for the Atlas/MISTRAM program in acquiring and executing the US Air Force MISTRAM contract, valued at $200+ million".

3 GE Cordiner Award, 1963, for "Contributions as the leading architect in the conception and implementation of the MISTRAM information processing system".

4 Computer Pioneer Award, 2006, for "Contributions to real time data acquisition and recording".

5 Computer Pioneer Award, 2001, for "The marrying of computers and communications technology in the Datanet-30".

6 ACM Turing Award, 1973, for "his outstanding contributions to database technology"; elected as a Distinguished Fellow of the British Computer Society, 1977, for his pioneering work in database systems"; listed in the Database Hall of Fame.







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