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Seymour Yuter collection of Technitrol, Inc., lawsuit records

1945-1976
 Collection
Accession: 1901

Abstract

The collection consists of copies of trial records collected by Seymour C. Yuter (dates unknown), a patent attorney for Technitrol, Inc. They include documents from the interlocking suits of Technitrol v. Control Data Corp., Technitrol v. Sperry Rand, and Technitrol v. U.S.A., which came to trial between the late 1950s and the mid 1970s. The principal point at issue was, who was the inventor of the magnetic storage drum. The records provide a fascinating picture of the early history of the computer industry and trace the role played by the military in the years immediately after World War II.

Dates

  • 1945-1976

Creator

Extent

23 Linear Feet

Historical Note

Technitrol Inc., was organized in order to develop computer technology for military and industrial purposes. The company was incorporated on April 15, 1947, by John F. Koch, Jr. (dates unknown), E. Stuart Eichert, Jr. (1920-1976), Gordon Palmer, Jr. (1922-1997), and T. K. Sharpless (1939-). Prior to working for Technitrol, Eichert, Koch, and Sharpless had been employed at the University of Pennsylvania's Moore School of Electrical Engineering, where they worked on the ENIAC project. In the summer of 1947 Technitrol began working on a computerized airline reservation system. On May 26, l948, Sharpless demonstrated this "Reservisor" system to American Airlines, but the airline declined to purchase it. The key component of this system was the magnetic storage drum for which Technitrol received a patent on Sept. 23, 1952.

However, during the 1940s, Engineering Research Associates, a St. Paul-based firm that was doing top secret research as part of the U.S. Navy's cryptographic program, had developed a similar system. When Technitrol tried to license its invention, a bitter patent infringement suit resulted. The principal parties to this litigation were the United States Government, Sperry Rand Corporation, successor to Engineering Research Associates, and Control Data Corporation, which had been established by a breakaway group of former Engineering Research Associates engineers.

Scope and Content

The collection consists of copies of trial records collected by Seymour C. Yuter, a patent attorney for Technitrol, Inc. They include documents from the interlocking suits of Technitrol v. Control Data Corp., Technitrol v. Sperry Rand, and Technitrol v. U.S.A., which came to trial between the late 1950s and the mid 1970s. The principal point at issue was, who was the inventor of the magnetic storage drum. The records provide a fascinating picture of the early history of the computer industry and trace the role played by the military in the years immediately after World War II.

Harvard University Computation Laboratory series documents the work done at the laboratory between 1948 and 1955 under the direction of Howard Aiken. Included is a copy of Aiken's "Investigation for the Design of a Digital Calculating Machine," which describes the development of the Mark IV computer.

The Engineering Research Associates series consists of discovery documents which shed some light on the history of the Engineering Research Associates, which has always been shrouded in secrecy because of the firm's involvement with the Navy's cryptographic program. The documents show that as early as 1943 the Navy recognized that the computer, with its ability to rapidly manipulate data streams, was a natural tool for encoding and decoding messages. The Navy's most successful wartime unit was led by Commander Howard T. Engstrom, in peacetime a professor of mathematics at Yale, and Lt. Commander William C. Norris, who had been a sales engineer for Westinghouse. After the War, Norris established ERA with the encouragement of Secretary of the Navy Forrestal, and it was soon the most advanced computer company in the world. It developed the ATLAS, the first stored-memory digital computer.

The development of the Atlas computer is documented in great detail, including a component-by-component chronology, weekly and monthly progress reports, correspondence, memoranda and engineering notebooks of key engineering personnel (Arnold Cohen, John Coombs, William Keye, and Lowell Brown). The records reflect the secrecy imposed by the Navy. The records include copies of ERA's contracts with the Office of Naval Research and correspondence with Dr. Mina Rees, head of the Mathematical Division at ONR, and John Curtiss, head of the Computing Division of the National Bureau of Standards. There are also copies of ERA reports on magnetic storage and MIT's Project Whirlwind.

Other records collected during the discovery series contains documentation on John Atanasoff's computer, the Harvard Mark IV, the ENIAC, BINAC, EDVAC and UNIVAC. Most of these documents were drawn from the suit of Honeywell, Inc. v. Sperry Rand but were entered as evidence by Technitrol's lawyers to raise questions about ERA's claim to the magnetic storage drum patent.

The Prior art files series contain documentation on Atanasoff's computer, the Harvard Mark IV, and Eckert-Mauchly's ENIAC and UNIVAC. There is also information on Rockwell International's Gun Direction and Minuteman computers, projects which applied the principles of automatic command and control first explored at ERA.

The Court records series include trial transcripts, briefs, affidavits, depositions, and related docments which trace the progress of the trial through the court.

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Literary rights retained by creators of the records.

Related Material

Sperry Corporation, Univac Division Records (Accession 1825), Manuscript and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library

Language of Materials

English


Additional Information

Additional Description

Provenance

Gift of Seymour Yuter

Related Names

Creator

Finding Aid & Administrative Information

Title:
Seymour Yuter collection of Technitrol, Inc., lawsuit records
Status:
Author:
Michael H. Nash
Date:
1987
Description rules:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description:
English
Script of description:
Latin

Repository Details

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

Contact:
PO Box 3630
Wilmington Delaware 19807 USA
302-658-2400