Tandy Corporation

TandyCorpLogoTandy was originally formed in 1919 by Norton Hinckley and Dave L. Tandy, and was known as the Hinckley-Tandy Leather Company. In 1963 it bought Radio Shack, paving the way for the company to be part of the computer revolution in the 1970s. In 1977 it introduced the TRS-80 to record sales and followed up with the color version in 1980. Later machines were IBM compatible, as most home computers of the day were clones of the venerable desktop made by Big Blue. The Tandy line sported a cheaper price along with better than average sound and video.

Tandy has become a well remembered name in the annals of computer history and the minds of millions of computer geeks everywhere. Many early computer enthusiasts cut their teeth on a Tandy in the 80’s, and the color version sold quite well, making them a fierce competitor with other computers of it’s time such as the Apple II, <IBM-PC, and Commodore 64. Today the company lives on without the Tandy name and still operates thousands of Radio Shack stores worldwide.

Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC)

decDEC was created by Ken Olsen and Harlan Anderson, two MIT engineers, in 1957 and rose to legendary status during it’s existence. The company has produced several influential computers and design concepts, forever emblazing it on the face of technology history. It is one of the first computer companies to find success in the minicomputer market with their PDP and VAX machines. From the early 60s to the 90s it was a leading manufacturer and vendor, with products like the PDP-11, PDP-8, and one of the first 32 bit minicomputers, the VAX-11. Born from the early TX-2 machine, the first DEC products shipped in 1958 and were made up of electronics and transistors mounted to a circuit board. The Digital Laboratory Module turned a record profit in 1958.

Later on the PDP-1 was developed and shown publicly for the first time in 1959. The machine was produced until 1969 and DEC sold 53 of them. The PDP-4 was released in 1962, followed by the PDP-7 in 1964, the first machine that ran Unix. Following up with the VAX architecture in 1976, they also introduced some of the early concepts of cluster machines, incorporating the VAXcluster technology into the line which became the first clustering system to achieve commercial success. In 1977 Olsen famously scoffed at microcomputers, believing there wasn’t any need for an individual to have a computer in their home.

Bolt Beranek and Newman (BBN)

logoBolt, Beranek and Newman was one of the pioneer companies in the world of computers. Two MIT professors, Richard Bolt and Leo Beranek, started up a small acoustical consulting company in 1948. With the addition of Robert Newman, Bolt Baranek and Newman or BBN, was born.

Throughout the 1950s, the company was mainly involved in acoustical instruments and research, making huge advancements in this field. In 1958 the company bought it’s first computer, an LDP-30. In the 1960s BBN began it’s famous forray into computing building components for the PDP-1. Some of the company’s most notable achievements include the first demo of computer time sharing, the first public demo of an electronic communications system, creating LOGO, invention of packet switching, and building the ARPANET. It was also a BBN employee that invented email and the first routers. Clearly, BBN has played a large role in the shape of computer science only on a par with IBM. BBN still operates today in Cambridge, MA. where it continues to build and research electronic components, acoustic engineering, and computer science. If it hadn’t been for BBN, you wouldn’t be reading this right now!

Bell Labs

belllabs2From A Brief History of Lucent Technologies

On Feb. 14, 1876 Elisha Gray lost his race to invent the telephone; Alexander Graham Bell put in a patent application just hours before Gray filed one.

Gray, however, had already left his mark on telephony seven years before when, in 1869, he and Enos N. Barton formed Gray and Barton, a small manufacturing firm based in Cleveland, Ohio. Three years later, the then Chicago-based firm was renamed the Western Electric Manufacturing Company. By 1880, it was the largest electrical manufacturing company in the United States, noted for its production of a variety of electrical equipment, including the world’s first commercial typewriters, telegraph equipment and Thomas A. Edison’s electric pen.

A year later in 1881, when the growth of the telephone network was outstripping the capacity of smaller suppliers, American Bell purchased a controlling interest in Western Electric and made it the exclusive developer and manufacturer of equipment for the Bell telephone companies.

In 1907, Theodore N. Vail combined the AT&T (formerly American Bell) and Western Electric engineering departments into a single organization that, in 1925, would become Bell Telephone Laboratories.

In the course of its ongoing research, Bell Telephone Laboratories made several discoveries that would touch the lives of millions in years to come. For example, Bell Labs developed the first commercially viable system for adding sound to motion pictures. Combined with studio and theater equipment manufactured by Western Electric, this system moved Hollywood quickly from silence to sound. The first demonstration of television in the United States in April 1927 was another notable first for Bell Labs.

Ten years later, in one of its most memorable moments, Dr. Clinton J. Davisson became the first of 11 Nobel Prize winners from Bell Laboratories for his experimental confirmation of the wave nature of electrons.

After playing a critical role in providing communications and command equipment for the U.S. military during World War II, Western Electric was able to direct its efforts toward filling the pent-up demand for telephones. In 1946, it produced a record 4 million telephones. Bell Labs directed its research in new areas as well. Three of its scientists received the Nobel Prize for their invention of the transistor in 1947. Bell Labs moved on from there to develop distinguished “firsts” in communications that include the laser, Telstar satellites, electronic switching, UNIX operating system, and packet data switching.

Control Data Corporation

cdclogoIn 1957, Seymour Cray and William Norris form the Control Data Corp (CDC), to design and build supercomputers. Intended to be used for scientific calculation, many considered it a risky endeavor. Originally working for Sperry Rand designing the successors to the UNIVAC, Cray’s desire to push the limits of computing conflicted with the company and he decided to form his own.

CDC began designing high volume, high speed, accurate machines geared toward select customers who would need such number- crunching power. The first, the 1604 is created in 1958. Following it up was the CDC 6600, the fastest, most powerful of it’s time, turning CDC into an industry giant. In 1972, Cray formed Cray Research, Inc. which produces the Cray-1 in 1976. It is far more powerful than any of it’s slower cousins, it performs 240 million calculations per second.


From Westinghouse’s Company History:

It began in the Age of Steam, a 19th century success story that resonates in the 21st century. George Westinghouse, a spunky teenager with a head full of ideas, seizes opportunity after opportunity to make technology better, faster, more efficient. In the process, he helps improve the way people live. He starts a company, then another, then dozens of them. His ventures survive him and evolve through decade after turbulent decade into forms he couldn’t have predicted, but would no doubt have understood.

Primary research and technology development activities at Westinghouse occur in our Science and Technology Department, located at the George Westinghouse Research &amp; Technology Park in Churchill, Pennsylvania. Current research focuses on five major areas: energy systems, chemical processing, materials and corrosion, materials reliability, and decision analysis.

Many of the scientists and engineers in the Science and Technology Department are among the world’s leading experts in their fields. Combining this expertise with that of the BNFL research and technology group helps Westinghouse advance nuclear power technology for the benefit of our customers and electricity users worldwide.

Lyons Tea Company

lyons4First established in the last quarter of the nineteenth century by four entrepreneurs (Isidore and Montague Gluckstein, Barnett Salmon and Joseph Lyons), J. Lyons & Co. became one of the largest catering and food manufacturing companies in the world. From modest beginnings as supplier of catering to the Newcastle Exhibition (UK), in 1887, the new firm rapidly expanded to become the first food empire which, at its height, was the largest in Europe. In the process Lyons became a household name and the ‘Joe Lyons’ Corner Houses and teashops, with their ‘Nippy’ waitresses, caught the public imagination and passed into history.

Eckert-Mauchly Corporation

Eckert-Mauchly Corporation was formed by the scientists John Eckert and John Mauchly in the early 40s, designing and building some of the first famous computers in existence.

The company was incorporated December 22nd, 1947, originally called Electronic Control Corp. before being renamed. Although the two men built the ENIAC before forming the company, the first official Eckert Mauchly computer was the BINAC. The company was acquired by Remington Rand on February 15th, 1950. The first UNIVAC was not delivered until March 1951, over a year after EMCC was acquired by Remington Rand


ibm-logoIBM is now a name synonymous with computers. Formally named International Business Machines in 1924, it has a history going back to the early 1900s. They’ve expanded exponentially every year since then, and became one of the great companies in the history of computing. During the 1960s they held nearly 80 percent of the market in computer sales. The U.S. Justice Dept tried unsuccessfully to break up IBM with an anti trust lawsuit in 1952.

IBM made a number of key technological changes in the decade of the 1950s. In 1952, the company introduced the IBM 701, its first large computer based on the vacuum tube. The tubes were quicker, smaller and more easily replaced than the electromechanical switches in the Mark I (1944). The 701 executed 17,000 instructions per second and was used primarily for government and research work. But vacuum tubes rapidly moved computers into business applications such as billing, payroll and inventory control. By 1959, transistors were replacing vacuum tubes.

A new generation of IBM leadership oversaw this period of rapid technological change. After nearly four decades as IBM’s chief executive, Thomas J. Watson, Sr., passed the title of president on to his son, Thomas J. Watson, Jr., in 1952. He became chief executive officer just six weeks before his father’s death on June 19, 1956 at age 82.