[SIGCIS-Members] Petroleum and computers (from Burt Grad)

Thomas Haigh thaigh at computer.org
Wed Sep 15 15:06:36 PDT 2010

Forwarded from Burt Grad, who for some reason is having trouble sending from
his own account and having the list accept it.



From: Burtgrad at aol.com [mailto:Burtgrad at aol.com] 
Sent: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 6:59 AM
To: members at sigcis.org
Cc: thaigh at acm.org
Subject: Petroleum and computers


As a developer at IBM's Data Processing Division during the 1960's, I was
involved in applications work with many of the major users of mainframes. So
far, all of the comments I have read seem substantially correct. However,
there was a large gap in the types of companies which were doing
scientific/technical computations and those doing business applications. The
heaviest business users were banks, insurance companies and manufacturing
companies (including aerospace and petroleum/gas). The largest scientific
users were the aerospace and petroleum companies. Before the S/360 was
announced, I believe that the sales of commercial machines exceeded the sale
of scientific machines (certainly in the US); and I believe that the ratio
of business to scientific usage was around 4 to 1. Share and Guide may have
some data on this and there must have been data submitted to the government
in the anti-trust suit which stipulated the sales of various sizes and types
of IBM computers during the 1960s.


I know that IBM would have been unable to sell S/360s to the Petroleum
companies unless we had high functioning LP codes. And IBM couldn't have
sold to the Aerospace companies without PERT programs. The only other
evidence that I can recall was that by the end of the 1960s a number of the
aerospace companies were selling excess capacity on a timesharing and remote
processing services basis; some of the petroleum companies also did this but
I believe to a lesser degree. Still, in terms of total value of computers
sold, I believe that the commercial usage was much greater and therefore the
sales to businesses other than Aerospace and Petroleum was probably much
greater. Without statistics available to me, I would guess that dicrete
manufacturing (not process), banking and insurance were the largest markets
(other than government) in the 1960s and probably through the 1970s at


Burt Grad [co-chair, Software Industry Special Interest Group at the
Computer History Museum]


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