Rochester chronology

Page 3


Employees begin occupying a new laboratory building: Building 030. The Rochester Laboratory organization -- which has accounted for such products as the IBM System/3 Model 10, optical character recognition equipment and the card reader and punch for the IBM System/370 -- occupies 1.3 million square feet of space.

Jul. 1
Rochester's Cost Effectiveness program reaches 124 percent of its 1970 goal; and the plant has successfully substituted ordinary waste drain pipe for traditional brass tubing used in air cylinders in the IBM 1287 optical reader.

SDD Rochester is given responsibility for developing an Advanced Optical Character Reader.

Oct. 26
The U.S. Postal Service awards IBM a $6.7 million contract to implement optical character reader (OCR) technology and develop an Advanced Optical Character Reader Postal Service. Work on the contract is performed by the General Systems Division in Rochester and the IBM Federal Systems Division in Gaithersburg, Md., where work on OCR technology has been underway since 1968. Feasibility demonstrations have used elements of the IBM 1287 optical character reader.

Oct. 28
The company announces the Boca Raton-developed IBM System/7 and IBM System/3 Model 6. Rochester's Advanced Unit Record Systems Programming group had developed the Report Programming Generator II programming language intended for commercial applications on the Model 6, and Rochester had developed an optional air isolation feature for the System/7 that enables air in the machine to be recycled and allows it to operate in a corrosive environment.


Rochester has responsibility for producing over 50 different data processing machines. Whereas GSD's Boca Raton facility is strictly an assembly plant, Rochester, in addition to building products, has a complete basic parts manufacturing capability and one of the largest machining areas in IBM. Among the newer techniques in Rochester is the world's largest plastic press, with a force of 400 tons; a plasma flame spray to produce wear-resistant coatings; and a magnetic force welder, the first of its kind used in production. Rochester produces unit record equipment (sorters, collators, etc.), bank equipment (proof machine, inscribers), IBM System/3 equipment (multifunction card unit, sorter, disk), card readers and punches, and document reading equipment.

The Rochester lab supports GSD product development and SDD product test. The plant supports GSD and the IBM System Manufacturing Division.

Feb. 8
The site marks its 15 anniversary as an IBM location.

Mar. 8
The Rochester-developed IBM 3505 card reader (IBM's fastest), and IBM 3525 card punch for System/370 are announced, along with the IBM System/370 Model 135.

The site assumes manufacturing responsibility from IBM's plant in San Jose, Calif., for the IBM 5444 disk storage file, and manufacturing responsibility from IBM's plant in Toronto, Ontario, for the IBM 129 card data recorder.

Production of the 5444 begins in Building 105.

Extensive roof and water damage is sustained by Buildings 109, 105 and 030 as a result of a tornado-like storm. Scores of employees work through the night mopping water and covering and moving machines.

Jul. 8
GSD reports that a partially-sighted programmer at the Rochester plant has developed a feature to allow the IBM System/3 Model 10 computer to print Braille.

Jul. 15
GSD realigns its product development structure with singularly dedicated laboratories (Boca Raton is to concentrate on sensor-based and small scientific systems while Rochester is to focus on small commercial systems and their programming support).

Aug. 6
The Product Test Laboratory in Rochester reports on the use of a machine that "smokes" cigarettes a whole pack at a time to test and evaluate the effects of smoke on computers.

The last IBM 1260 electronic proof inscriber is shipped by the plant.

Frank P. Silkman is named general manager, succeeding Stephenson.

Rochester announces the IBM 2596 card read-punch.

Dec 9
The Rochester Development Laboratory publicly describes how engineers and scientists had used three-dimensional photography to significantly speed the testing and analysis of computer parts.

Dec 28
The company introduces the IBM 1287 optical reader Model 5, which had been developed by SDD's Recognition Systems group in Rochester.

General purpose application development is transferred from the IBM Data Processing Division to Rochester.

ASDD is maintaining a project office in Rochester.


The Rochester lab develops the IBM 3881 optical mark reader (demonstrated in April at the Hannover Fair in Germany and then announced on April 24) and the IBM 3886 optical character reader (announced in October 16). The latter is manufactured in IBM's plants in Rochester and Greenock, Scotland.

The 5,000-square foot Integrated Technology Laboratory opens its doors in Building 020-1 (an expanded version of the lab is later housed in Building 105-A).

After a development effort spanning nearly two years, the Postal Programs group at the Advanced Systems Development Division Rochester facility ships its Advanced Optical Character Reader (AOCR) to the New York City General Post Office in Manhattan. Developed under subcontract to the IBM Federal Systems Division, the AOCR scans and sorts machine-addressed letter mail at the rate of 24 envelopes a second.

Dec. 1
The Advanced Optical Character Reader is officially released to the U.S. Postal Service in New York City.

 The plant ships the first IBM 3505/3525 six weeks earlier than scheduled, and the IBM 2596 card read punch is shipped two weeks early.


Jan. 22

IBM 3740 data entry system
The GSD product line moves a step further into field effect transistor technology with the introduction of the IBM 3740 data entry system, developed and manufactured in Rochester. The integrated family of products introduces a new recording medium -- the IBM diskette -- and is the first GSD product to use FET technology.

Feb. 14

The Rochester plant is using an IBM System/7 computer to automatically control to test the punch unit of each IBM 3525 card punches it is manufacturing.

GSD assumes two former functions of the IBM Advanced Systems Development Division: plant floor control systems at Mohansic, N.Y., and advanced explorations and patient monitoring at Rochester.

Rochester ships the first IBM 3740 data entry system, more than a month ahead of schedule (to Borden, Inc., in Columbus, Ohio).

Jul. 10
GSD announces a new, larger-capacity IBM System/3 -- the Model 15 -- with added function and versatility. Developed at the GSD facility in Rochester, the Model 15 is manufactured by the division in Boca Raton and by the World Trade Corporation in Vimercate, Italy.

Aug. 10
The company announces the IBM 3650 retail store system, including a key element -- the IBM 3657 ticket unit -- developed by GSD Rochester.

Oct 11
The company introduces a supermarket point-of-sale system which features the IBM 3666 checkout scanner, developed by GSD Rochester.

The plant retires "Old Reliable," one of the first IBM System/3s ever built, with more working hours (15,377.97) to its credit than any other system in existence.

Sep. 30
IBM, the Mayo Clinic and Saint Marys Hospital establish a medical "first" through a collaborative effort incorporating the computer into patient care.


By July
More than 25,000 System/3s have been installed around the world, and another version, Model 8, jointly designed by Rochester and Boca Raton, debuts in September.

Sep. 10
The IBM System/3 Model 8 is announced.

Sep. 11
The company announces the Rochester-developed IBM 3501 card reader and IBM 3521 card punch used with the Raleigh-developed IBM 3770 data communication system.

The IBM Quarter Century Club celebrates its Golden Anniversary, and more than 200 site employees, with a total of more than 5,000 years of service, join the celebration.

Rochester is the location for the first live IBM System/3 Model 8 demonstration in the world.

Donna Happel becomes the first woman to serve in the site's volunteer fire brigade.


Jan. 7

The Rochester-developed IBM System/32 is introduced.
The Rochester-developed IBM System/32 is introduced. It is the first system to incorporate hardware and comprehensive application software. More than 2,000 inquiries pour in from across the United States for information on the new system.

The plant has already shipped 20 IBM System/32s to customers.

Jul. 7
The company unveils a new model of the popular IBM System/3 computer -- the Model 12 -- as the smallest IBM computer to use the company's most advanced disk storage system. The Model 12 was developed in Rochester and is manufactured in Boca Raton.

Sep. 9
GSD introduces the IBM 5100 Portable Computer as a major new entry into the small computer area. It had been developed at GSD's lab in Rochester.

Sep. 19
The plant ships the first Rochester-developed IBM 5100 portable computer, just eight working days after it is announced by GSD.


The Rochester lab develops the IBM 5234 time entry system and IBM 5235 data entry station. The two machines are named by the Minnesota Society for Professional Engineers in February as one of the 1976 Seven Wonders of Engineering in Minnesota.

Mar. 11
GSD manufacturing operations are realigned such that Rochester will manufacture all IBM System/32 and follow-on products for the North and South America, Asia and Australia and New Zealand; Boca Raton will produce the IBM System/3 and IBM System/7 for the United States and Canada; and Toronto will produce the IBM 3741/3742 and 3717 data entry devices and follow-on products for North and South America, Asia and Australia and New Zealand, and beginning later in 1976, the IBM 5230 data collection system for the same countries.

There are now nearly 5,000 site employees, and the site encompasses more than 1.5 million square feet of space.


The Rochester facility assumes responsibility for developing direct access storage devices -- hard disk files (DASD) -- for future GSD products.

The plant and lab continue as part of GSD.

Apr. 14
GSD announces the IBM System/34, a low-cost computer with multiple workstations to provide business information when and where needed. This event marks the realization of an idea put into motion three years before. System/34 had been designed and developed at Rochester as a powerful multiple workstation disk system which allows users to execute programs concurrently with other batch or workstation oriented programs.

Apr. 14
GSD announces the IBM 5250 information system.


Hal Martin is named general manager, succeeding Silkman.
Hal Martin is named general manager, succeeding Silkman.

Harry Tashjian is named lab director.

A 60-ton plastic structural foam molding machine, the only one of its kind in IBM, is installed in Building 106.

Dec 21
The first IBM System/34 is shipped (to Union Brass and Metal Manufacturing Company in St. Paul. It replaces the customer's IBM System/3 Model 10.).

More new employees are added in 1977 than in any year in the site's history, with the laboratory as the fastest-growing area. One out of every six lab employees at year-end has joined during the year.

Preliminary work for constructing Buildings 005 and 050, and an addition to Building 040 -- totaling 248,776 square feet -- gets underway.

 The site receives IBM's Energy Excellence Award for reducing its energy use by more than 41 percent in the 1973-1976 period.


Jan. 10
GSD rolls out the IBM 5110, an economical computer designed to reduce paperwork and improve productivity in business operations. The 5110 had been developed and is manufactured in Rochester. (Within a week of its announcement, GSD had already received hundreds of orders.)

The first IBM System/34 is installed (at Union Brass and Metal Manufacturing Company in St. Paul, Minn.) more than a month ahead of schedule.

The first IBM 5110 is installed (at Punxsutawney Electric Company in Punxsutawney, Pa.).
GSD announces major IBM System/34 enhancements, including a diskette magazine facility and an almost fivefold increase in the system's maximum disk capacity.

The IBM System/32 surpasses the IBM System/3 as the most widely installed IBM computer.

The transfer begins of manufacturing responsibility to the Don Mills (Toronto) plant for 21 different input/output machine types, including card readers and punches for IBM System/360, IBM System/370, IBM System/3 and flexible disk transmission terminals for the IBM 3740 data entry system.

Construction begins on a new cafeteria addition to double the site's food preparation and serving area.

Sep. 12
GSD announces a number of enhancements to the IBM System/34, including a communication support feature that improves the computer's versatility in a distributed data processing environment.

Oct. 24

GSD introduces the IBM System/38, designed as a follow-on for the IBM System/3.
GSD introduces the IBM System/38, designed as a follow-on for the IBM System/3. System/38's hardware and programming innovations permit many functions associated with large computers to be combined into a compact system. System/38 was developed over eight years by GSD's Rochester facility and is manufactured there and in Vimercate, Italy. Application development programs were developed at GSD Centers in Atlanta, and Menlo Park. Deliveries of the new system are to begin in August 1979 (but slip to 1980). GSD's president C. B. (Jack) Rogers, Jr., says: "The System/38 is the largest program we've ever introduced in GSD and it is one of the top three or four largest programs ever introduced in IBM."

Six unit record machines are shipped to customers for the last time. These electromechanical machines include the IBM 082 and IBM 084 sorters, IBM 085 and IBM 087 collators, IBM 514 reproducer and IBM 548 interpreter. Several Rochester employees had worked on these products for as long as 22 years.


Rochester is responsible for general purpose information processing systems, programming, key-entry devices, systems input/output and the IBM 5260 retail system.

 In early 1979, manufacturing responsibility for the IBM 5110 is transferred from Rochester to Boca Raton, requiring the 1,600-mile move from Minnesota to Florida of thousands of parts, hundreds of training hours and dozens of skills. The transfer is accomplished within three months.

Jan. 9
The company announces the Rochester-developed IBM 5260 retail system. Consisting of the IBM 5265 and IBM 5266 point-of-sale terminals and the Retail Merchandise and Audit System (RMAS) application programs, the 5260 provides retailers with an electronic cash register that collects, stores and forwards user-selected data on each transaction.  

The facility encompasses 1,989,000 square feet of occupied space at the main site, including permanent and leased temporary buildings. An extensive construction begins, including six permanent buildings, two structural additions to the power plant and placement of four bays of modular structures. Also included are three parking lots, a tank farm for chemicals used in manufacturing, an enlarged power substation, provisions for standby electrical power generation, and utility construction related to the expansion program. Three of the permanent buildings (Buildings 108, 110 and 111) provide manufacturing and process facilities for Rochester's read/record head and disk manufacturing mission. The other three major structures (Buildings 107, 015 and 025) house laboratory and administration personnel.

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