[SIGCIS-Members] Scientific Instrument Firms as ComputerManufacturers in the 1950s and 1960s

Alberts, Gerard G.Alberts at uva.nl
Wed Jul 7 07:02:43 PDT 2010

Dear David,
Many electricity and electronics firms had branches manufacturing scientific instruments: Ferranti, Philips, Siemens etc. Without detailed study it will be hard to establish the link between such instrument-making branches and the, often new, branches producing computers.
I suppose Ferranti, picking up on the production of the Manchester computers, is a case in point, 
Ferranti: A History - Building A Family Business, 1882 - 1975 <http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ferranti-History-Building-Family-Business/dp/185936098X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1278336011&sr=8-1> , John F Wilson, 2003, has a few pages on computer production.
You probably want to trace the developments of ITT-Standard Electric and its European ramifications like Stantec (in the UK producing the ZEBRA of Dutch design) and Standard Electric/k Lorentz (diff an).
In general we may expect scientific instrument firms to enter into the manufacturing of analog machines before turning to digital computers: AEI, Beckman etc.
In Germany Siemens (Siemens & Halske) followed this path. Apart from a few remarks by Hartmut Petzold, in his 1985 Rechnende Maschinen and his 1992 Moderne Rechenkünstler, I do not know the key reference to the literature. Hope our German colleagues can help us out here. 
Gerard Alberts


Van: members-bounces at sigcis.org namens David C. Brock
Verzonden: vr 2-7-2010 16:01
Aan: members at sigcis.org
Onderwerp: [SIGCIS-Members] Scientific Instrument Firms as ComputerManufacturers in the 1950s and 1960s

Dear All,

I'm looking for advice in the form of references to any publications that might treat or touch on the topic of scientific instrument firms as electronic computer manufacturers in the 1950s and 1960s.

I'm aware of two southern California stories: the efforts at Consolidated Electrodynamics -- which led to the Burroughs' Datatron (http://tjsawyer.com/B205Home.htm) in the early and middle 1950s, and the efforts at Beckman Instruments, Inc. that initiated in the middle 1950s and continued well into the 1960s.

I've done some poking around for relevant references, but haven't really found anything.

Any ideas?

Best wishes,


P.S. I would, of course, welcome any pointers to relevant archival collections.
David C. Brock
Senior Research Fellow
Center for Contemporary History and Policy
Chemical Heritage Foundation
Principal, D.C. Brock Consulting
40 Russell Street
Greenfield, MA 01301 USA
Telephone: 413-773-7130
Mobile: 413-522-3578
Fax: 866-636-4480
dcb at dcbrock.net
davidb at chemheritage.org

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