Engineering Research Associates (ERA)-Remington Rand-Sperry Rand records
Scope and Content Note
The Engineering Research Associates - Remington Rand - Sperry Rand Records document research, development and production activities at company facilities in St. Paul, Minnesota. Researchers should note that these materials do not constitute the official corporate records of any of the three companies. Materials in this collection were gathered from a variety of sources, including company employees such as engineers Warren P. Burrell, John Lindsay Hill, and Jay A. Kershaw.
The bulk of the collection consists of technical information on company projects, such as the Atlas I (commercially known as ERA 1101 and UNIVAC 1101), the Logistics Computer, and the UNIVAC LARC, as well as other research and products including the magnetic drum memory. Also included are some administrative materials related to the St. Paul location, engineers' files, and materials exhibited at the ERA 40th anniversary event in 1986.
- Creation: 1945-1988
- Charles Babbage Institute (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).
Engineering Research Associates (ERA) was founded in 1946 in an effort to continue the work of a classified war-time Navy cryptology unit called Communications Supplementary Activity -Washington (CSAW). A technological group, headed by former CSAW supervisors Howard T. Engstrom and William C. Norris, and former head of the Naval Computing Machine Laboratory Ralph I. Meader, joined with investment banker John Parker to establish the company. Parker was the former head of Northwestern Aeronautical Corporation (NAC), a St. Paul, Minnesota firm that made gliders during World War II. ERA established a small office in Arlington, Virginia, but the majority of ERA's workforce was located in the former NAC facility in St. Paul.
ERA became a division of Remington Rand in 1952. In 1955, Remington Rand and the Sperry Corporation merged to become the Sperry Rand Corporation and ERA became part of the company's Univac Division.
- "Engineering Research Associates: The wellspring of Minnesota's computer industry" (St. Paul: Sperry Communications Dept., 1986).
- Tomash, Erwin and Arnold E. Cohen. "The Birth of ERA: Engineering Research Associates Inc. 1946-1955." In Annals of the History of Computing 1:2 (October 1979).
Warren P. Burrell
Warren P. Burrell graduated from the University of Minnesota with a BEE in 1948 and joined Engineering Research Associates as an assistant engineer working in computer development that same year. Burrell was involved in such projects as the ERA 1101, ERA 1103, the UNIVAC File Computer, NIKE-X, and XU-71.
John Lindsay Hill
John Lindsay Hill graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology with a BSEE in 1930. He worked as project engineer for Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing before joining Engineering Research Associates as an electrical engineer in 1946. At ERA, Hill supervised development of the ERA 1101 and several other projects including a message storage and relay system for stored flight plans using magnetic drums for the Civil Aeronautics Administration. In 1956, Hill was placed in charge of the UNIVAC project. Later he worked for Ramsey Engineering.
Jay A. Kershaw
Jay A. Kershaw graduated from the University of Minnesota with a BEE in 1950. He joined ERA in 1951 as an electrical engineer in computer development. Kershaw worked on development of magnetic recording techniques and materials, and the Logistics Computer. He became peripherals manager for the Naval Tactical Data System (NTDS) project in the early 1960s. Kershaw left Sperry Univac to work in management for Control Data Corporation and later for Control Data's subsidiary, Control Data Worldtech.
42 boxes (16.5 cubic feet)
The Engineering Research Associates-Remington Rand-Sperry Rand Records document research, development and production activities at company facilities in St. Paul, Minnesota. Collection consists of technical information on company projects, administrative materials related to the St. Paul location, engineers' files, and materials exhibited at the ERA 40th anniversary event in 1986.
Arrangement of Collection
The materials in this collection are arranged into the following groups:
- Corporate Administration, 1945-1988
- Technical Reports and Memoranda, 1947-1972
- Warren P. Burrell Records, 1945-1970
- Jay A. Kershaw Records, 1955-1965
- John Lindsay Hill Records, 1947-1981
- ERA 40th Anniversary event exhibit materials
The records were given to the Charles Babbage Institute by a variety of individuals in numerous accessions.
- Engineering Research Associates (ERA)-Remington Rand-Sperry Rand Records, 1945-1988
- Prepared by Josh Knatterud-Hubinger, Amanda Schwarze and Carrie Seib, 2004-2005.
- February 2006
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note