[SIGCIS-Members] New public TV History of Computing documentary (on MN)--a CBI Collaboration available for streaming

Jeffrey Yost yostx003 at umn.edu
Tue Oct 15 13:30:53 PDT 2019

Dear Colleagues,

Wanted to make people aware of an hour-long history of computing
documentary on Minnesota IT history.  It was a collaborative project of the
Minnesota High Tech Association (MHTA-an industry association with 300
member companies), Twin Cities Public Television (TPT), the Charles Babbage
Institute (CBI), the Minnesota Historical Society, the Dakota Country
Historical Society, and The VIP Club (ERA/Univac retirees group).

The documentary is titled: Solid State: Minnesota's High-Tech History.  I
participated in a pre-screening event last week and had the opportunity to
serve on the panel following the screening at TPT with the film-maker Kevin
Dragseth, MC MHTA CEO Jeff Tollefson, and a few IT pioneers, and we had
several hundred guests in the audience (Oct. 8th). It aired on public
television on TPT on Oct.13th, and it will likely be shown on some public
television affiliates throughout the nation, especially in high tech
regions (such as in San Francisco/San Jose/Palo Alto/S. Valley, Boston,
Seattle, Los Angeles, Austin, etc.) in the near future. The easier way to
see it if interested (or to use in a class), it is now, and will remain,
available to stream in full--see URL below.

Despite not having Control Data (for a time 2nd to only IBM) since its
early 1990's liquidity crisis, receivership, and breakup, there is still
much IT here in the Twin Cities, but some it more behind the scenes. The
HQs of Target and Best Buy and their advanced logistics systems, 3M as a
leading force in the Internet of Things (IoT) in manufacturing (Accenture
estimates IoT in manufacturing, factory sensors/transmission to the
Cloud/associated analytics, will save $15 Trillion globally in efficiencies
by 2030), and Optum (an absolute giant health information services
platform/provider used in 150 countries) that represents half the income of
its parent the nation's 6th largest public company Minnetonka, MN's United
Health, as well as the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, Medtronic, and other
constituents of our Medical Alley to name just a few.

Documentary is available at:


Former CBI Director, HSTM and ECE Prof. Emeritus, and current SHOT
President Tom Misa is the on-air historian throughout (author of Digital
State on MN's IT history and an inspiration for the documentary).  In
addition to extensive footage and insights from Tom, about 20 video
interviews with IT pioneers were used (including with early ERA engineers,
as well as with leading women and African Americans advancing IT here and
beyond).    CBI Archivist Amanda Wick was the lead archivist advisor, I was
the lead historian advisor, and UMN History of Science Tech and Med (HSTM)
ABD student Liz Semler was the chief researcher/project manager and did
absolutely incredible work on the effort (on both the documentary and the
website www.mncomputinghistory.com).  HSTM Postdoc and former CBI GSRA Dr.
Jonathan Clemens (a senior consultant) also provided very important work
and input throughout. Most of the footage and many of the photographs are
from the Charles Babbage Institute Archives.

Best, Jeff

Jeffrey R. Yost, Ph.D.
Director, Charles Babbage Institute
Research Professor, Program in the History of Science, Technology, and

222  21st Avenue South
University of Minnesota
Minneapolis, MN 55455

612 624 5050 Phone
612 625 8054 Fax
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