Control Data Corporation

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Control Data Corporation (CDC) was a supercomputer firm. For most of the 1960s, it built the fastest computers in the world by far, only losing that crown in the 1970s after Seymour Cray left the company to found Cray Research, Inc. (CRI). CDC was one of the nine major United States computer companies through most of the 1960s; the others were IBM, Burroughs Corporation, DEC, NCR, General Electric, Honeywell, RCA, and UNIVAC. CDC was well known and highly regarded throughout the industry at one time.


Background and origins: World War II–1957

During World War II the U.S. Navy had built up a team of engineers to build codebreaking machinery for both Japanese and German electro-mechanical ciphers. A number of these were produced by a team dedicated to the task working in the Washington, D.C., area. With the post-war wind-down of military spending the Navy grew increasingly worried that this team would break up and scatter into various companies, and it started looking for ways to covertly keep the team together.

Eventually they found their solution; the owner of a Chase Aircraft affiliate in St. Paul, Minnesota, John Parker, was about to lose all his contracts with the end of the war. The Navy never told Parker exactly what the team did, since it would have taken too long to get top secret clearance. Parker was obviously wary, but after several meetings with increasingly high-ranking Naval officers it became apparent that whatever it was, they were serious, and he eventually agreed to give this team a home in his military glider factory.

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