Control Data Australia Memories compiled by Brian Membrey

CDC : And One That Was

Although the battle over the original plan for the Roseville plant dragged on until March, 1961, it is obvious that CDC management certainly had contingency plans in place and probably partially implemented before the original proposal was abandoned.

Large tracts in Bloomington had been set aside as early as 1954, some 3,000 acres still available in early 1961 and almost instantaneously announced plans for an later alternative facility in Bloomington, completion scheduled for October 1.

Both of the proposed sites were about 10-12 kilometres from the original office in Park Avenue - I know not what the extent of Minneapolis was in 1961 - the only comparison I could find suggests that the population in 1950 was 520,000, where Melbourne was about 1.3 million, so both the Roseville and Bloomington districts could probably be termed as “developing suburbs” with ample space available, but possibly short on “infrastructure”.

The complex incorporated a three-storey building (left) housing the administrative offices in about 50,000 square feet of space, linked to a 50,000 square-foot production facility with a corridor connecting link (this later section designed so that an addition of another 100,000 square-feet could be added as required.

It was suggested that about 1,000 employees would be accommodated in the two buildings, but that the company would continue to maintain space at 501 Park avenue.

The announcement of the revised plans and the revelation that CDC had a backlog of orders of order $16 million saw the Common Stock issued in 1957 at a face value of $1 per share trading at $101.50 per share, leaping from around $40 in August, 1960.

TODAY :

The Bloomington proposal was said to be south of the eastern section of the Old Shakopee Road and 34th Avenue South “overlooking the Minnesota River Valley”; CDC records have the address as 8100 34th Avenue South.

Despite its quaint name, Old Shakopee Road is an extensive thoroughfare and finding the correct location (without indication of a street number) took several minutes, the reference to the river valley finally providing the clue.

After zooming in two or three times on the potential location, the real shock came when Google Maps identified it as the headquarters of Ceridean Corporation - now internationally known in various aspects of Human Resource management, but in the early 1990s, the purchaser of the CDC Services Division following the split of the Corporation.

I’ve never been able to locate much on the eventual dissolution of CDC, but it seems apparent that the sale may have included the original Bloomington facility and that it appears CDC retained an occupancy there even after the completion of the multi-storey Twin Towers of around 1970.

I never got within coo-ee of the offices - undoubtedly there would have been extensive remodelling of the building in the  fifty-plus years since it was constructed, but there are a couple of Google Map images of the current structure shown below : the Ceridean website suggests the address is 3311 East Old Shakopee Road; there is an Australian subsidiary at 1 Southbank Boulevard in Melbourne

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The architect’s original  impression of the later Bloomington proposal - Administration left, production right. The buildings appear close to the reality, but the semi-circular forecourt finished up as common-or-garden car park.

Above images of 8100 34th Avenue South, courtesy of Charles Babbage Institute : Left 1961, described as Mod A and apparently nearing completion, and right, 1962 and completed.  The reference to “Mod A’ is intriguing - presumably the building on the left - and it appears that CDC may have retained its corporate seat there, the image left below (Charles Babbage Institute <cbi01663>) taken at the Press conference announcing Bill Norris’ retirement (10 January 1986) with Norbert Berg, Bob Price and Norris labelled as “CDC Executive Seminar Room Mod A (Bloomington MN)”  RIGHT below; from Bloomington Historical Society which appears to be from the opposite side of the building (unfortunately undated, but looks somewhat later)

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A brushed-up photograph included in the William C. Norris Scrapbooks - the photo itself is not dated but was included with  page 1 of Volume 2 which also has an article 8 January, 1962 on the announcement of the trial date for the Sperry Rand action against Control Data Corporation. Rather oddly, there is nothing in the scrap books  mentioning the opening of the Bloomington plant - it almost certainly would have attracted the attention of the Twin Cities press.