I begin with the staffing, to put the new employees in a deservedly good
I may have hired more good people, in the early days of programming,
than any other manager. It was all done by instinct! And at Lockheed
Missiles, I must admit I hired some that other managers might have
bypassed. The cast included:
Notable Project No. 1 -- Lagrangean Multipliers
- Dr. Jack Sherman, already famed in the analog field, to run that
- Jim Hudson, who had been selling a product called "Baby Tenda".
What would make such a person a fine programmer? I don't know,
but he was.
- Albert Podvin, who had some drawbacks. He did not yet have a college
degree. His wife was divorcing him, and he looked like Humphrey
Bogart, except perhaps less handsome. But he told me he just HAD to
have a job. I said I could only take him on in the nominal capacity
of keypunch operator (at that time he could not run one), and we'd
see what to do if he showed promise.
Yes, the same Albert Podvin that was B. O. Evans technical assistant
and hairshirt when Evans was in charge of developing the IBM 360!
I knew I'd made a great choice when Al wrote a sine-cosine routine
for the 650 that was faster than mine -- he did it via sine 3 theta!
- Elaine Gatten was the keypuncher already there, but in IBM Technical
Newsletter 10 you'll find her listed as author of one of the program
components of the FLAIR System for the IBM 650. Not bad for a
- Don Jackson, more or less borrowed from Lockheed's California
Division, where they made airplanes. He helped me test our 650
programs at IBM's Endicott plant.
- Dick Talmadge. He was with our group at Marquardt Aircraft, where
he did mostly trajectory calculations for the BOMARC missile. He
was the only one of us who could write programs with a pen. We
others all made mistakes, found during test runs, that required
Upon leaving Marquardt Aircraft I had recommended Dr. Talmadge to
be my successor, and it was agreed. Later, though, Dick expressed
a wish to come to Lockheed Missiles, and I could hardly refuse
someone with his talent.
Still later, he joined IBM on the West Coast, becoming famed by
creating such a great compiler for COMTRAN (Commercial Translator)
on the IBM 709 that IBM's customers balked at using IBM's COBOL
compiler for that machine, even after IBM had sworn allegiance
- Dick Middleton, with whom I had worked on the graveyard shift at the
Rand Corporation when I was just getting started as a programmer.
He figured in an interesting situation:
My guess that the PhDs Ernst Krause brought to Lockheed
Missiles (summer of 1955) were snobs was reinforced when all the
new people with doctorates were given wooden title bars for their
desks. I complained to Bob Birdsall of personnel. He apologized,
but that was how it was. "Not for me!", I exclaimed modestly.
"For Dr. Middleton of my department, who feels neglected".
Name bar duly furnished. I stuck a wire in it, topped with a ping
pong ball painted with nail polish as a bloodshot eyeball. Our
Dr. Middleton's degree was in optometry! He had gotten it after
leaving the RAND Corporation. But he wasn't so enamored of that
profession that I couldn't talk him into being a programmer again.
- Fletcher Jones, formerly working at North American Aviation. I do
not mark him down as one of my hiring successes, however. Shortly
after coming aboard he disappeared, and we found that he had been
dickering with North American to return (they had an IBM 701, and
he claimed that he preferred the big machines). I think it was
because he couldn't understand the IBM 650. At least I retain the
only piece of coding he ever did for us, with my note "has no
knowledge of stored programming" on it.
- Ralph K. Rea (the school superintendent's son -- later to NSA).
- Black Lib -- Ben Handy, early worker on the U.S. National
Bureau of Standards (NBS) groundbreaking SEAC computer,
I had, on my second try, persuaded him to leave CRC (his current
employer). He accompanied me to the 1955 September ACM meeting in
Taking heed of the claim of "City of Brotherly Love", I arranged for
us to occupy the same room, at the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel (since
out of business). The eyes of those white bellboys were large as
they carried our luggage to our room. Bear in mind that Dr.
Martin Luther King was not well-known in 1955, and Ben was
unmistakably black. But he was a great programmer and dear friend.
- Woman's Lib -- Irene Brown, from some college in Boston,
hired by mail without an interview.
The Philadelphia meeting wasn't my only innovation in employee
relations. After a few weeks at work she came to me and asked
why I was paying her $115 a week, whereas she had been getting
only $60 at the college. I told her that $115 was what the men
were getting for the same work she was doing. She said nothing
more, but never stopped working hard!
I also hired her husband, Frank Brown, and no nepotism was involved.
He, too, was a competent programmer.
Dr. Walter Bauer then headed the computation operation for Ramo-Wooldridge
Corp. When Lockheed Missile Systems was awarded a subcontract to
validate the Ramo-Wooldridge work on the Atlas missile trajectories, from
1 to 2.5 stages, Walter called me to his office and gave me the word to
use Lagrangean Multipliers for optimization. I must have nodded yes,
but to this day I have never discovered what Lagrangean Multipliers
Or cared, because I had a secret weapon -- Dick Talmadge's brain!
We had to use the IBM 701 at the California Division of Lockheed, not
having one yet ourselves. So I said (privately) forget Bauer and his
Lagrangean Multipliers. I had a larger board laid over the short-depth
shelf of the printer (where the answers showed up), for graph paper.
Talmadge would sit there, make up a set of parameter cards, run a few
points, extrapolate the curve, try a new set of parameters, see if it
got worse or better. Thus he zeroed in. We didn't validate
Ramo-Wooldridge. We beat them to the answers by a margin of months!
A special 701 board needed to be wired for this project. One Chuck
Baker was brought in for the task. Somehow there was a lot of talk, and
I found myself doing the same wiring in competition with him. It was
fortunate for my reputation and authority that I, although now
technically just a manager, was the winner. And it worked the first
Notable Project No. 2 -- Computerized Dynamic 3-D
Our analog section was primarily devoted to data reduction from missile
test flights, because all of the instrumentation was analog in those
days. Had you said "chip", a blank stare would have resulted.
This project is documented fully on this site under the name "War and
Perspective", which see.
We made a lot of generals ecstatic, and set a minor amount of precedent
along the way to PC games.
Notable Project No. 3 -- A 650 Programming System
Lockheed also had a company unit in Marietta, Georgia, with a charter
somewhat similar to MSD's. The man starting up the computer section
there was my old friend and roommate Bob Bosak. They, too, were
initially getting 650s. As there were no signs that IBM was producing
anything decent in the way of a machine-independent programming
system for the 650, Bob and I decided to build one jointly between
our two groups. The products were not identical, but most components
Ours was called "FLAIR", for "FL_oating A_bstract I_nterpretive
R_outine" . Theirs was called "FACS", for "F_loating decimal
A_bstract C_oding S_ystem" . Essentially, Bosak's people did the
arithmetic portion, and we did the subroutines.
You will not find Reference 1 in any list of my papers. The formal
author is just the entire section, with the several authors of the
routines identified. The paper is of substantial interest, however, in
that the entire text and some diagrams was produced entirely on punch
cards. Even the program listings. It was certainly my first word
processing venture, and one of the world's earliest. I think.
Notable Project No. 4 -- Polynomial Relaxation Methods
I had seen Cecil Hastings develop his function approximations while
we were both working at the RAND Corporation, In practice they were
difficult to program -- too many terms with too many digits in the
coefficients for the computers of those days. I thought to postulate a
simpler formula of shorter coefficients and fewer terms, and use the
same Tchebysheff methods to approximate the difference between that
polynomial and Cecil's original, adding the short result back. I
called this "relaxation".
The 1955 September ACM meeting in Philadelphia was coming up, so I
produced a paper on this method, which we had then been using with much
After the session where I presented my paper I wandered out to where
George Stibitz and Alston Householder were sitting. As I joined their
table, Stibitz asked "Anything earthshaking in the last session?"
Householder replied "Well, Bemer here caused a small tremor". When
justly famous men give you a small compliment, count it large.
I found later that C. Lanczos had done similar work concurrently,
but called it "polynomial telescoping". The priority of invention has
not yet been adjudicated.
Leaving Lockheed Missiles and Space Division
Some time in 1955 MSD got in a Dr. Ernst Krause (who later started Ford
Aerospace) to create a new research division. He was all hot for PhDs
and a UNIVAC 1103 (whereas we were expacting an IBM 704 to match our
parent company). He also brought in his own computer man, a Dr. Werner
Leutert (whom I replaced at UNIVAC some seven-plus years later, with
my memory still fresh). And new research-type (?) people.
I saw no actual blood flowing, but it was that type of a situation.
Even Willis Hawkins, the current Chief Engineer, was attacked bitterly
And, perhaps to be different, or to show that THEY were now in
charge, they really pressed for that UNIVAC 1103, and their influence
won. I was left on the old limb. Don Pendery, that great IBM Applied
Science Representative in the Los Angeles area (and later V.P. of Xerox)
came to my rescue, arranging an interview with Dr. Charlie DeCarlo in
New York in November of 1955. I started there the next month.
From then on I did very little actual engineering work. But I certainly
kept up with computer usage for engineering there. I followed the APT
work for John McPherson, consulted on many engineering applications, and
most of the users of PRINT I, my first product there, were engineers --
AOSmith, oil companies, etc. But I was now totally a systems programmer
from then on.
The mean little kid in me takes satisfaction today that Google gives
only 2 hits for that Dr. Ernst Krause, vs. thousands for me.
- The Mathematical Analysis Section, Missile Systems Division,
Lockheed Aircraft Corp., "A general utility system for the IBM
Type 650", Technical Newsletter No. 10, IBM Applied Science
Division, 31-48, 1955 Oct.
- Robert Bosak, "Development of a floating decimal abstract
coding system (FACS)", Technical Newsletter No. 10, IBM Applied
Science Division, 28-30, 1955 Oct.