Biographies: Informatics: An Early Software Company

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Publication Date: 30-Jun-1996
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Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute (IEEE Annals of the History of Computing Volume 18 Number 2, Pages 70-76)

Related People

Walter F. Bauer - Author [+1] [-1]
IEEE Computer Society - Owner

Abstract

This article emphasizes the time period 1962-1970. Early in January, 1962 I asked Richard Hill and Werner Frank, two of my colleagues at the Ramo-Wooldridge Corporation, to meet with me concerning a new venture -- the starting of a software company. They unhesitatingly expressed their interest in the project. The seed for Informatics had been sown. By March the structural arrangements for the new company had been put in place. On the morning of March 19 Richard Hill and I started work in Wermer Frank's unheated living room.

Copyright

Copyright ©; 1996 by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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English (United States)

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United States

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13 pages / 50.5 KB

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THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

Copyright ©; 1996 by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Biographies: Informatics: An Early Software Company

Walter F. Bauer

This article emphasizes the time period 1962-1970.

Early in January, 1962 I asked Richard Hill and Werner Frank, two of my colleagues at the Ramo-Wooldridge Corporation, to meet with me concerning a new venture -- the starting of a software company. They unhesitatingly expressed their interest in the project. The seed for Informatics had been sown.

By March the structural arrangements for the new company had been put in place. On the morning of March 19 Richard Hill and I started work in Wermer Frank's unheated living room.

Werner Frank was on assignment for Ramo-Wooldridge at the Pentagon in Washington D.C. and had taken up temporary residence in the city. He had told his employer he was going to join Informatics. Unknown to us, he had fumed off the gas in his house in Woodland Hills. Frank Wagner, a fourth founder, was to join us some months later.

Although technically not a founder, Richard Kaylor joined the company in 1963 and made enormous contributions as a key executive with the group.

Background

In 1962 the computer hardware business was flourishing. IBM was busy with its 7000 series solid state follow-on to the 704 and 705 versions, the 1400 series was active, and advanced planning for the 360 series was well under way. UNIVAC was selling the Univac Scientific 1105, the UNIVAC III and the militarized 418. RCA was selling the 301, Philco the 212, CDC the 1604, and Scientific Data Systems the 910 and 920. The industry was concerned with the challenges and the excitement of computer hardware mostly due to the solid state (transistor) versions which were transforming the industry. Programming and software were the relatively unimportant handmaidens of the hardware business.

Computer applications of the day covered a wide spectrum of activities but they were cumbersome, expensive and user-unfriendly by today's standards. Payroll, inventory control, and accounting were the typical commercial applications.

It was during this time that UNIVAC was attempting to put online one of the first large payroll projects for General Electric's small appliance division in Louisville, Kentucky. Although beset by a myriad of problems along the way it finally became operational. It was watched with intense interest by the computer community.

The most advanced applications were in the scientific and military areas; air defense and atomic energy, which had dominated the 50s,continuedtoreceive resources and attention. The important new area of application was aerospace where the computer was being used to study missile trajectories, to design space airframes and propulsion systems, and to study and be applied to space tracking and communication systems.

IEEE Computer Society, Jun 30, 1996 Page 1...

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