Burroughs Corporation

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The Burroughs Corporation was a major American manufacturer of business equipment. The company was founded in 1886 as the American Arithmometer Company and was assimilated in the 1986 merger that resulted in the creation of Unisys. The company's history paralleled many of the major developments in computing. At its start it produced mechanical adding machines, and later moved into programmable ledgers and then computers. And while it was one of the largest producers of mainframe computers in the world, Burroughs also produced related equipment as well, including typewriters and printers.

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Early history

In 1886 the American Arithmometer Company was established in St. Louis, Missouri to produce and sell an adding machine invented by William Seward Burroughs (grandfather of Beat Generation author William S. Burroughs). In 1904, six years after Burroughs' death, the company moved to Detroit and changed its name to the Burroughs Adding Machine Company. It soon was the biggest adding machine company in America.

Evolving product lines

Burroughs developed a range of adding machines with different capabilities, gradually increasing in their capabilities. A revolutionary adding machine was the Sensimatic, which was able to perform many business functions semi-automatically. It had a moving programmable carriage to maintain ledgers. It could store 9, 18 or 27 balances during the ledger posting operations and worked with a mechanical adder named a Crossfooter. The Sensimatic developed into the Sensitronic which could store balances on a magnetic stripe which was part of the ledger card. This balance was read into the accumulator when the card was inserted into the carriage. The Sensitronic was followed by the E1000, the E2000, E4000, E6000 and the E8000, which was computer system supporting magnetic tape, card reader/punches and a line printer.

In time, Burroughs was selling more than adding machines, including typewriters. But the biggest shift in company history came in 1953; the Burroughs Adding Machine Company was renamed the Burroughs Corporation and began moving into computer products, initially for banking institutions. This move began with Burrough's purchase, in June 1956, of the ElectroData Corporation in Pasadena, California, a spinoff of the Consolidated Engineering Corporation which had designed test instruments and had a cooperative relationship with Cal Tech in Pasadena.[1] ElectroData had built the Datatron 205 and was working on the Datatron 220.[1] The first major computer product that came from this marriage was the B205 tube computer. In the late 1960s the D2000, D4000 range was produced (also known as the TC500—Terminal Computer 500) which had a golf ball printer and a 1K (80 bit) disk memory. These were popular as branch terminals to the B5500/6500/6700 systems, which sold well in the banking sector, where they were often connected to non-Burroughs mainframes. In conjunction with these products, Burroughs also manufactured an extensive range of cheque processing equipment, normally attached as terminals to a larger system such as a B2700 or B1700.

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