Control Data Australia Memories compiled by Brian Membrey

Ex-CDA comments, suggestions, criticisms

“Nostalgia Ain’t What It Used To Be!”


March-April 2019

Not sure whether in the 12 or so years that this “unofficial” CDA site has operated that there has ever been any Feedback from a CDA person - some CDC, but no CDA.

Ron Bird and the late John O’Neil provided much of the information on CDA’s early office in Eton Square at 474-76 St. Kilda Road, but were somewhat coy as to whether any of the doors had an overhead red light - thanks to Feedback from Jenny (surname and email suppressed), we confirm in the affirmative

Topic : 476 St Kilda rd History

Feedback :  Possibly the only surviving sex worker at 476 St Kilda road 1977-1980 Feel free to call me on 0490******.

To maintain perspective, 476 was the southern end of Eton Square while CDA were 474, but some follow-up from Jenny suggests that when she worked the scene, there were 24 red-lights in the complex and up to 60 women available for a gentlemen’s pleasure (or, ahem! perhaps a gentlewomen’s).  

Aaahh! so much choice, so little time …To be fair, this was some ten or so years after CDA moved to 598, but I have to wonder why Jenny was browsing a Control Data Australia site … perhaps to renew acquaintances with a few old (now very old) clients, err! friends???

Not sure whether the red light sign indicates “downstairs”, or perhaps that the gentleman client may need to “lift his game” to get full value for money!

After the flurry of new material in December and January, little new this month, one new addition to our Daily Life section - TITS at the George Hotel in Fitzroy Street; a handful of new Links, and a new pair of Briefs   

Otherwise  confess I haven’t looked that hard, or maybe did and forgot to record the details … it’s just that  …

January, 2019!

Just when we thought that there was little more to add on our CDA-CDC history, Peter Johnson’s images of December were rapidly (but coincidentally) followed by some Feedback on PLATO supplied by an U.S. contact who at one stage considering a marketing role in Oz, but was deterred by the thought that Australian government users may not have readily accepted an American presence

Aha! Methinks cunningly to myself that some possible inside information might be forthcoming, and after advising Jim that we didn’t really feed American sales reps to the sharks off Bondi Beach ‘cos they were reserved as delicacies for the crocs at Taronga Park Zoo, he supplied some remarkable background, including details of a portable PLATO station and some reminiscences passed on by Professor Donald Bitzer, the key speaker on PLATO at the 1976 Conference.

Digging deeper into Jim’s material led to the astonishing discovery that Donald Bitzer’s wife, Maryanne also made a highly significant contribution to the success of PLATO, both from a technical point of view, but perhaps equally important to the social acceptance of computers at a time when gender stereotypes saw women rarely involved with computers or engineering projects.   Our downloadable PDF covering PLATO has been upgraded in line with the Feedback

December, 2018

The major upgrade is a series of images uploaded by Peter Johnson at the links below - remarkable photos including a 3200 at ABS Melbourne being cut in half as the mainframe (swung in by crane prior to the building being completed) was too long to fit into the lifts after de-commissioning - the look of Customer Engineer Wai Chan as he ponders the result is a classic! Others include the “QTAB Graveyard” (System 17s dumped at Moorabbin after the GWN cancellations), rare shots from the Thornbury Regional Warehouse, Natal TAB and others. *

Originally I had links to Peter’s external site, but subsequently he asked me to post to an alternate location as the original apparently tends to shut down accounts “with excessive usage” (that may mean 500 hits per day or, in our case, possibly five per year), but regardless, the images are now locally hosted here as The Peter Johnson Gallery

Also following some discussion with Bryan Gardiner at our Xmas lunch, I dug around and found images of the Cyber 72 site at the University of Western Australia. A reference document suggest the 72 was later updated to a Cyber 73 and then a Cyber 720 without identifying dates.

The images and the details attached have led to some updates to existing articles : check out my Briefs above right for details

* NOTE : Two extra images added to the original dozen, 17 December



A site dedicated to sharing memories of Control Data Australia and Control Data Corporation and the myriad of ex CDA employees still closely linked by the ethos of a remarkable workplace, largely inherited from Bill Norris of CDC and whole-heartedly adopted by Trevor Robinson after the incorporation of CDA on 17 May, 1963.

Many more CDC brochures and specs at

Ex-CDA minor updates and additions to existing articles Ex-CDA links to pages of interest Ex CDA : Wrigley's Juct Fruit and how it affected our day-to-day lives Ex-CDA : Some new "old" press clippings

One that got away!

In 1960, CDC acquired Arbitron (market research, formerly American Research Bureau founded in 1943.

Whether it was a profitable exercise is debatable : in the words of Bob Price :

“It was probably the worst marketing organization you can imagine. Shortly after I took over the services group that summer, I made a tour with the vice president of sales for Arbitron … I came back and wrote a one-line trip report:

“In the words of the immortal Pogo, I have met the enemy and he is us.”   Pogo

Sorry, Mr. Price, but something went right somewhere along the line - Arbitron passed to Ceridian Corporation in 1991 as part of the CDC split, eventually split off to key shareholders in 2001 as a separate company and was sold in 2013 to major competitor A. C. Nielsen for a lazy $1.26 billion!

(Rather more than the shell of CDC that Price left in his wake after his $4 million plas payout)

Below : the original American  Research Bureau in Maryland, 1957

ex-CDA free downloads

Lesson of the Month :

“Sesquipedalianism” is the tendency to use long words ... a sesquipedal is a person who has sesquipedalian tendencies.

Betcha CDI never taught ya that!

… and some acronyms to go with that!



Remembered with much admiration

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Remembered with much admiration

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LATEST NEWS : March-April, 2019



(Our “take” on graffiti that Tony Bell remembers appearing on the urinal at CDI, early 1980’s)

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