Lundstrom, David E. A Few Good Men from Univac. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1987. ISBN 0-262-12120-4.
The author joined UNIVAC in 1955 and led the testing of the UNIVAC II which, unlike the UNIVAC I, was manufactured in the St. Paul area. (This book uses “Univac” as the name of the company and its computers; in my experience and in all the documents in my collection, the name, originally an acronym for “UNIVersal Automatic Computer”, was always written in all capitals: “UNIVAC”; that is the convention I shall use here.) He then worked on the development of the Navy Tactical Data System (NTDS) shipboard computer, which was later commercialised as the UNIVAC 490 real-time computer. The UNIVAC 1107 also used the NTDS circuit design and I/O architecture. In 1963, like many UNIVAC alumni, Lundstrom crossed the river to join Control Data, where he worked until retiring in 1985. At Control Data he was responsible for peripherals, terminals, and airline reservation system development. It was predictable but sad to observe how Control Data, founded by a group of talented innovators to escape the stifling self-destructive incompetence of UNIVAC management, rapidly built up its own political hierarchy which chased away its own best people, including Seymour Cray. It's as if at a board meeting somebody said, “Hey, we're successful now! Let's build a big office tower and fill it up with idiots and politicians to keep the technical geniuses from getting anything done.” Lundstrom provides an authentic view from the inside of the mainframe computer business over a large part of its history. His observations about why technology transfer usually fails and the destruction wreaked on morale by incessant reorganisations and management shifts in direction are worth pondering. Lundstrom's background is in hardware. In chapter 13, before describing software, he cautions that “Professional programmers are going to disagree violently with what I say.” Well, this professional programmer certainly did, but it's because most of what he goes on to say is simply wrong. But that's a small wart on an excellent, insightful, and thoroughly enjoyable book. This book is out of print; used copies are generally available but tend to be expensive—you might want to keep checking over a period of months as occasionally a bargain will come around.

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