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Issue No.02 - April-June (2009 vol.31)
pp: 44-55
G.T. Gray , IBM, Cambridge, MA
ABSTRACT
Although Burroughs experienced moderate success with its medium- and small-sized computers, the company's large-scale systems and supercomputers were plagued by product delivery delays and quality issues. These struggles with its large-scale commercial products left it at a serious disadvantage in the competitive market of the 1980s.
INDEX TERMS
parallel machines, mainframes,large-scale systems, B5000, Burroughs third-generation computers, small-sized computers, medium-sized computers, supercomputers,Military computing, Large-scale systems, Laboratories, Missiles, Supercomputers, Delay, Computer industry, Telephony, Production, Application software
CITATION
G.T. Gray, R.Q. Smith, "After the B5000: Burroughs Third-Generation Computers 1964—1980", IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol.31, no. 2, pp. 44-55, April-June 2009, doi:10.1109/MAHC.2009.19
REFERENCES
1. We discussed the Burroughs military transistor computers in "Before the B5000: Burroughs Computers, 1951–1963," IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 25, no. 2, Apr.–Jun. 2003, pp. 58–60.
2. The B5000 was the subject of the IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 9, no. 1, 1987. Additional information can be found in the Burroughs B5000 Conf. oral history interviews (OH 98), 6 Sept. 1985, Charles Babbage Inst. (CBI), Univ. of Minnesota, Minneapolis.
3. B. Uttal, "How Ray Macdonald's Growth Theory Created I.B.M.'s Toughest Competitor," Fortune, Jan. 1977, pp. 94–104.
4. Burroughs Indian Wells Conference, typescript, n.d., both in the Burroughs Corporation Records, CBI, CBI 90.
5. CUBE XIX Report, 30 Nov. 1971.
6. D.J. Roche, "Burroughs 5500 MCP and Time-Sharing MCP," Operating Systems Techniques, C.A.R. Hoare, and R.H. Perrott eds., Academic Press, 1972, pp. 307–320.
7. Datamation, June 1978, p. 31.
8. , Burroughs B2500 and B3500 Systems Characteristics Manual, Burroughs Corp., Mar. 1970.
9. Dave Dahm in the Burroughs B5000 Conf. oral history interviews, CBI, OH 98.
10. F.M. Fisher, J.W. McKie, and R.B. Mancke, IBM and the U.S. Data Processing Industry: An Economic History, Praeger, 1983, p. 247.
11. Details on the B100, B200, and B300 computers are given in "Before the B5000: Burroughs Computers, 1951–1963," IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 25, no. 2, Apr.–Jun. 2003, pp. 58–60.
12. Information on the L/TC family comes from the Fisher, McKie, and Mancke IBM book (pp. 248, 381) and a comprehensive website prepared by Chris Pickles, who worked for Burroughs in England from 1974–1980, at http://www.picklesnet.com/burroughs/descriptions burroughs.htm.
13. The TC500 was also involved in a bit of nonsense by John Kease ("Some Comments on 'The Computer's First Code Poem,'" Poetry Nation, vol. 4, 1974), where the code poem was supposedly fed into a TC500, which rendered it as "Good Christian men, rejoice, rejoice: Consign the items, then invoice."
14. A.J.W. Mayer, "The Architecture of the Burroughs B5000," ACM Computer Architecture News, June 1982, pp. 3–10; J.A. Allweiss, and J.H. McClintock, "High Level Language Design," Datamation, Apr. 1981, pp. 186–191.
15. The first formal E-mode definition was called E-mode level Beta: Paul Kimpel, "Understanding MCP Programdumps," Session AS4027, UNITE Conf., UNITE Inc., 2002.
16. B8500 System Description May 1965 (D-685), Burroughs Corporation Records, CBI, CBI 90.
17. Datamation, Feb. 1967, p. 68; Dec. 1967, p. 97.
18. Datamation, Aug. 1968, p. 85; Jan. 1969, p. 175; Feb. 1969, p. 205.
19. Burroughs Indian Wells Conference, typescript, n.d., Burroughs Corporation Records, CBI, CBI 90.
20. Datamation Feb. 1970, p. 51; Mar. 1970, p. 43;1 Dec. 1970, p. 47. D.G. Copeland, R.O. Mason, and J.L. McKenney, "Sabre: The Development of Information-Based Competence and Execution of Information-Based Competition," IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 17, no. 3, Fall 1995, pp. 30–57.
21. Burroughs Annual Report 1968; An Expandable Automated Reservations System for Air Canada, 20 May 1966, Burroughs Corporation Records, CBI, CBI 90.
22. Burroughs Annual Report 1967, p. 15.
23. CUBE XIX Report, Burroughs Corporation Records, CBI, CBI 90; Datamation, Jan. 1972, p. 77, and Oct. 1976, p. 94; Auerbach Computer Technology Reports: Burroughs B6700/B7700 Systems, Nov. 1975 and Aug. 1976.
24. E. Organick and J.A. Hinds, Interpreting Machines: Architecture and Programming of the B1700, North Holland, 1978.
25. Information on the B700 is taken from "Burroughs B700 Systems: B720 Systems Reference Manual," 1975, and the Chris Pickles website.
26. Datamation, Sept. 1972, p. 6; Oct. 1972, p. 112; "Burroughs' Fat Figures," Time,7 Aug. 1972; http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article 0,9171,879187,00.html.
27. Sales and profit data are taken from the Electronic News Financial Fact Book and Directory (Fairchild Publications) for the years covered in the table.
28. Datamation, Feb. 1976, p. 144; Computerworld,19 July 1976, p. 1; B. Uttal, "The Blumenthal Revival at Burroughs," Fortune,5 Oct. 1981, p. 130.
29. E. Organick, Computer System Organization: The B 5700/6700 Series, Academic Press, 1973, pp. 83–84.
30. The Illiac IV is discussed in two books by R. Michael Hord:, The Illiac IV: The First Supercomputer (Computer Science Press, 1982) and Parallel Supercomputing in SIMD Architectures (CRC Press, 1990).
31. R.W. Hockney and C.R. Jesshope, Parallel Computers 2, Adam Hilger, 1988, pp. 25–27, and A.J. Evensen, "PEPE Hardware and System Overview," Proc. 1977 Int'l Conf. Parallel Processing (ICPP 77), Jean-Loup Baer, ed., IEEE CS Press, 1977.
32. C. Jensen, "Taking Another Approach to Supercomputing," Datamation, Feb. 1978, pp. 159-172; D.J. Kuck, and R.A. Stokes, "The Burroughs Scientific Processor (BSP)," IEEE Trans. Computers, vol. c-31, no. 5, May 1982; J. Markoff, "Seymour Cray, Computer Industry Pioneer and Father of the Supercomputer, Dies at 71," New York Times,6 Oct. 1996.
33. "Burroughs Product Announcements," Datamation, Sept. 1977, p. 198; Data Decisions Computer Systems, Aug. 1985.
34. The B5900's development is described on Jack A. Allweiss's webpage: "The B5900, a Bridge to 21st Century Computing" at http://jack. hoaroots.orgb5900.htm.
35. R. Emmett, "Getting Tough with Burroughs," Datamation, Oct. 1979, pp. 75–78.
36. A letter complaining about slow fixes to software problems on a B1726 in Australia was published in Datamation, Jan. 1980, p. 35. Discussions of the 900 series delays and deliveries are in Datamation, July 1981, p. 28; Sept. 1981, p. 14; Oct. 1981, p. 54; Nov. 1981, p. 24; and Jan. 1982, p. 33.
37. The financial results are from the Electronic News Financial Fact Book and Directory, Fairchild Publications, 1980 and 1981.
38. The lawsuit outcome was reported in Datamation, Aug. 1981, p. 68.
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