Homer R. (Barney) Oldfield
1997 Computer Pioneer Award
"For pioneering work in the development of banking applications through the implementation of ERMA, and the introduction of computer manufacturing to GE"
Homer R. (Barney) Oldfield is credited for the successful Bank of America contract bid. Oldfield had received his B.S. and M.S. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1938 and l939 in Aeronautical Engineering (Instrumentation). While a research associate at MIT, Oldfield was called to active duty with the U.S. Army in 1941 where he helped develop microwave antiaircraft devices. After he was relieved from active duty in 1945, Oldfield found employment with GE as a sales manager and later as operations manager in the Electronics Division, and in 1951 became director of the GE Advanced Electronics Center at Cornell University.
In 1953 Oldfield set up and then managed the GE Microwave Laboratory at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, where he was at the time of the Bank of America ERMA proposal. In 1956 he became the general manager of GE’s Computer Department in Phoenix. In 1958 Oldfield left the GE Computer Department and conducted a three-month study program to explore the applications of new electronic technology projected over the next 5-10 years for GE at their Lynn River, Massachusetts location. At the end of the study, Oldfield left GE to work at Raytheon as General Manager of the Equipment Division.
Oldfield continued to follow stories about the GE Computer Department well after the division’s sale to Honeywell. Oldfield reconnected with several Computer Department alumni in the 1990s and used their recollections to construct his history of the Department’s development and demise. His interest culminated in the publication, in 1996, of King of the Seven Dwarfs: General Electric's Ambiguous Challenge to the Computer Industry.