Burroughs Corporation records
Scope and Content Note
The collection contains the records of the Burroughs Corporation, and its predecessors the American Arithmometer Company and Burroughs Adding Machine Company. Materials include corporate records, photographs, films and video tapes, scrap books, papers of employees and records of companies acquired by Burroughs during the companies tenure in the adding machine and computer industry, such as the System Development Corporation, Charles R. Hadley Company, Control Instrument Company, ElectroData and Todd Company.
- Burroughs Corporation (Organization)
Language of Materials
Access to materials:
Access to the collection is unrestricted.
The Charles Babbage Institute holds the copyright to all materials in the collection, except for items covered by a prior copyright (such as published materials). Researchers may quote from the collection under the fair use provisions of the copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code).
Historical Note of Burroughs Corporation
The Burroughs Corporation began in 1886 as the American Arithmometer Company. It was formed with the intent of selling the adding machine invented by William Seward Burroughs. The company started in St. Louis, Missouri where Burroughs was living at the time. The company moved its entire operations to Detroit, Michigan in 1904.
By 1905 the company had settled in Detroit and the name was changed to the Burroughs Adding Machine Company, in honor of William S. Burroughs who had died in 1898. Operations resumed almost immediately, and for about the next fifty years, Burroughs grew into the biggest adding machine company in the United States. It introduced many different products, including many variations of the basic adding machine, typewriters, check protectors, ticketeers, and finally, computers.
In 1953 the Burroughs Adding Machine Company was renamed the Burroughs Corporation, a name more reflective of their broad scope of products. They still had a strong market in adding and calculating machines, especially at banks and similar institutions. However, they were also moving into the computer field about this time. Their experience with the military during WWII also steered them toward the computer field, and they worked with the government on numerous contracts after the end of the war.
As Burroughs Corporation concentrated more and more on computers, they still marketed toward their prime customers, banking institutions. However, as time passed, their mainframes and other computers were given a greater market. IBM, of course, was far ahead of Burroughs in terms of sales and revenues, but Burroughs was often the next competitor behind them.
In September 1986, Burroughs Corporation and Sperry Corporation completed a merger that had been started over a year before. W. Michael Blumenthal, president of Burroughs Corporation, and Joseph J. Kroger, president of Sperry Corporation, became Chairman/CEO and Vice-Chairman, respectively, of the new company -- Unisys Corporation. The merger, which was actually an acquisition of Sperry by Burroughs for $4.8 billion, put Unisys into second place in the computer market in 1986, with revenues of about $10.5 billion. This was the largest merger in the computer industry's history, and although impressive, Unisys was still only about 1/5 the size of IBM. A period of reorganization followed the merger, with the closing of some facilities, combining of similar departments in Burroughs and Sperry, and the divestment of non-computer-related businesses.
Biographical Note of William Seward Burroughs
William Seward Burroughs, inventor of an adding machine and a founder of the American Arithmometer Company (which was renamed in his honor in 1905), was born in rural New York, although the date of Burroughs' birth has been hard to establish, it was between 1855 and 1858. He became a bank clerk at the Cayuga County National Bank in Auburn, New York in the 1870s, but eventually moved to St. Louis for health reasons.
It was here, in the early 1880s, in a small area of the Boyer Machine Company shop, that he started working on the bank clerk's dream -- the adding machine. After several years, he applied for a patent, eventually granted in 1888. The earliest machines were great prototypes, but when in the hands of inexperienced users would give outrageous answers. Burroughs answered the challenge by designing (in a few days), the "dash pot," a mechanism that regulated the pull on the adding machine's handle.
The next challenge was to convince banks and businesses that they needed this new machine, surprisingly not an easy thing to do. With a few salesmen who doubled as the service department, the American Arithmometer Company set out to add a new machine into the "modern-day" offices at the end of the nineteenth century. William Seward Burroughs only glimpsed the beginning of the office automation phenomenon, for he died, in Citronelle, Alabama, in 1898.
450 Cubic Feet (681 boxes (record cartons, hollinger boxes, flat file materials))
The collection contains the records of the Burroughs Corporation, and its predecessors the American Arithmometer Company and Burroughs Adding Machine Company. Materials include corporate records, photographs, films and video tapes, scrapbooks, papers of employees and records of companies acquired by Burroughs.
Arrangement of Collection
The Burroughs Corporation Records are arranged into 111 series. Please see the finding aid for each series for a box and folder list.
- Advertising Samples, 1904-1986
- John C. Alrich Papers, 1956-1958
- American Arithmometer Company Records, 1886-1905
- Analysis of Competitor Products (Competitive Information) and Competitors’ Product Literature, 1907-1971
- Annual Meeting Records, 1967-1983
- Annual Report Photographs, 1961-1985
- Annual Reports, 1923-1985
- Artifacts, 1954-1966
- Lawrence Bewley Papers, 1953-1960
- Biography Files, 1893-1985
- Black Box Photograph Collection, 1880-1972
- Book Publications, 1920-1988
- Branch Office Photographs, 1911-1966
- Burroughs and Sperry Merger Records, 1985-1989
- Burroughs BulletinPhotographs, 1947-1952
- Burroughs Machines, Ltd. Records, 1909-1926, 1966-1974
- Robert G. Busse Scrapbook, 1941-1967
- Thomas Butler Papers, 1935-1937, 1953
- Charles R. Hadley Company Records, 1905-1956
- Control Instrument Corporation Records, 1948-1968
- Corporate and Recruiting Brochures, circa 1930-1980
- Corporate Events, 1967-1980
- Corporate Identity Studies, 1957-1985
- Corporate Market Development Group, 1983-1984
- Court Documentation, 1934-1935
- CUBE Correspondence, 1969-1988
- Frank Cullen Papers, 1955-1976
- Cumbernauld Plant Technical Literature, 1976-1982
- Decisions in Force, 1911-1958
- Defense/Government Photographs, circa 1950s-1960s
- Defense, Space, and Special Systems Group, 1965-1971
- Detroit Area Divisions Records, 1962-1977
- Edsger W. Dijkstra Papers, 1971-1979
- Distributive Organization Records, 1886-1949
- Early Office Machine Photographs, 1907-1939
- Early Office Machine Product and Technical Literature, 1900-1966
- ElectroData Division Photograph Collection, 1962-1980
- ElectroData Division Records, 1952-1979
- Electronic Control Division and Electronic Instrument Division Records, 1958-1966
- Executive Orders, 1921-1943
- Exhibits Photographs and Records, 1947-1983
- Facility Literature, 1966-1974
- Facility Photographs, circa 1900-1983
- Field Force Letters, 1918-1923
- Financial Collection, 1905-1955
- Fragile Publications Collection, 1905-1955
- General Subject File, circa 1904-circa 1990
- Glass Lantern Slide Collection, circa 1945-1960
- Simon E. Gluck Papers, 1954-1962
- Gregory Publishing Company Burroughs Manuals, 1976-1983
- Histories of Burroughs, 1886-1986
- HOBO Group Reports, 1951-1952
- Installation Stories, 1951-1957
- International Operations Records, 1954-1979
- Norman L. Kreuder Papers, 1956-1962
- Langhorne Family Correspondence, 1886-1900
- Legion of Honor Records, 1961-1972, 1985
- Duncan L. MacDonald Papers, 1955-1964
- Mechanical Library, 1920-1968
- Miscellaneous Legal Records, 1934-1970
- Narration Scripts and Slide Presentations, 1948-1975
- Glen F. Nielsen Papers, 1955-1956
- Oversized and Mounted Photographs, circa 1897-circa 1977
- Paoli Area Divisions Records, 1949-1977
- Pasinski Family Papers, 1912-1984
- Passport Negatives, 1950-1965
- Patent and Trademark Records, 1897-1980
- Patent Research and Development Requests, 1946-1968
- Patent Research Division Files, 1947-1962
- PDA and PMA Authorizations, 1967-1971
- Photograph Collection, 1949-1963
- Pike Adding Machine Company Records, 1903-1911
- Policies and Procedures Correspondence, 1919-1957
- Press Clippings, 1925-1986
- Press Releases, 1947-1987
- Price and Style Lists, 1906-1972
- Product Literature, 1910-1984
- Product Photographs, circa 1940-1985
- Product and Testing Reports, 1951-1982
- Product Planning Records, 1950-1973
- Redactron Corporation Records, 1969-1977
- Reference Photographs, 1891-1985
- L. P. Robinson Papers, 1952-1961
- L. P. Robinson and L. W. Cali Papers, 1956-1960
- Sibyl M. Rock Papers, 1956-1965
- Sales Conventions Records, 1905-1929
- Sales Records, 1914-1922
- Salesmen's Manuals and Literature, 1906-1975
- Salesmen's Papers, 1910-1985
- Scientific Research Society of America - Burroughs Branch Records, 1952-1962.
- SEC Forms and Stock Information, 1942-1986
- Serial Publications, 1907-1998
- Shareholder Meetings and Reports, 1922-1986
- Martin Shuler Papers, 1952-1954
- Slide Collection, circa 1955-1978
- Speeches, 1921-1985
- Standard Practices Manuals, 1921, 1951
- Charles P. Staubach Papers, 1906-1928
- Don L. Stevens Papers, 1957-1962
- Strike Crime Reports, 1975
- Subsidiary Product Literature, 1949-1983
- System Development Corporation Records, 1946-1982
- Tax Appeal, 1930
- Lyle Thompson Papers, 1948-1979
- Todd Company Records, 1953-1956
- Irven Travis Papers, 1948-1968
- United Foundations Campaign Records, 1959-1969
- Universal Adding Machine Company Records, 1900-1912
- Videotapes and Films, 1957-1989
- J. Jay Wolf Papers, 1954-1978
- World War II Era Records, 1931-1946
The records were given to the Charles Babbage Institute by Unisys Corporation in 1991.
- Accounting machines. Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Acme Carbon and Ribbon Company.
- American Arithmometer Company
- Balbik Systems, Ltd.
- Banks and banking -- Automation. Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Bookkeeping machines. Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Burroughs Adding Machine Company
- Burroughs, William Seward, 1858?-1898
- Business records. Subject Source: Unspecified ingested source
- Calculators Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Charles R. Hadley Company
- Computer industry Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Computer industry -- History. Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Computers Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Computers -- History. Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Computers -- Research. Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Control Instrument Company.
- ElectroData (Firm)
- Haydu Brothers.
- Industries -- Michigan -- Detroit. Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Mittag & Verlag, inc.
- Moon-Hopkins Billing Machine Company.
- Motion pictures Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Office equipment and supplies industry Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Photographs Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Pike Adding Machine Company
- Seytec (Firm)
- System Development Corporation
- Todd Company.
- Universal Adding Machine Company
- Video recordings Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- Burroughs Corporation Records, 1880-1998. Finding Aid.
- Prepared by Archival Staff of the Charles Babbage Institute, 1995-2006.
- July 2006
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note