Control Data Australia Memories compiled by Brian Membrey

CDC : Early History


The CDA section of this site had its Genesis circa 2001 under the original site name of, i.e. (sof -silly old farts” + “whereare we now?).

The intention was to establish a contact source for ex-CDA employees with news of re-unions and Third-Friday lunches, subsequently supplemented by dozens of press cuttings and various other bits of stuff and nonsense

There was never any intention to include Control Data Corporation - they were big enough and ugly enough enough to look after their own and I was never “privileged” to have any dealings with the U.S. anyway, but following Tom Misa’s visit and oral interviews in 2013, a number of pages on the Charles Babbage Institute website that reference Control Data Australia and especially the relationship with the original E. L. Heymanson and Co. agency have been identified and suitable material added to our own site.

Following the split-up of Control Data Corporation in 1992, a massive amount of historical material (including over 2,000 photographs) were donated to the Babbage Institute under the umbrella of the University of Minnesota - whether I missed it in earlier days I’m not sure, but the photo gallery also includes two immense scrapbooks (around 560 pages in total) compiled by (or for) William C, Norris with material relating to he personally or CDC as an organisation.

The scrapbook material extends up to around the middle on 1965 - I suspect that by this stage the amount of material may have become somewhat overwhelming given the astonishing early growth of the company/

I guess as one who never made it further than New Zealand courtesy of CDA (and I must add I was bloody tired after the swim), one of the things that surprised me when adding the pages relevant to the early plants is that Minneapolis is much smaller than I imagined with an estimated population in 2016 of 413,000, slightly less than Canberra-Queanbeyan at 424,000 (the sister city St. Paul has 302,000).

It’s pretty well impossible to isolate what impact CDC’s ultimate selection had on Bloomington - current WikiPedia data suggests a population (2016) of 85,300 spread over 99,5 square kilometres (38.4 sq miles), while Roseville is significantly smaller, 35,700 over 35.85 square kilometres (13.6 sq miles).    

A quick calculation suggests that no substantial rezoning of Roseville occurred - the base figures calculate to 1,060 people per square kilometre (using land mass rather than the total area quoted above) in Roseville, compared to 949 for Bloomington, the latter obviously retaining more commercial and industrial usage.

Perhaps the other unsolved mystery is whether John O’Neil’s overcoat remains enshrined in Bloomington as some sort of civic monument to overseas visitors!

John at our October, 2017 lunch confirmed he bought the fur-lined coat on his first visit to Minneapolis, unaware of just how cold it got in the north od the U.S.  He suggested that the last of he knew of the the Aussie icon was it being used by CDA Human Resources/Personnel Manager Brian Donnelly, but subsequent whereabouts of either garment of person unknown!

The photo gallery is perhaps as interesting for images that are NOT included as much as those that are - while there are perhaps half-a-dozen shots relating to Control Data Australia, but there is absolutely nothing of the Regional Managers dispatched from Minneapolis to Melbourne - in order (I think) Herb Hughes, Paul Sibalik, Larry Holswade, Chuck Copenhaver and John de Beer.  Herb. Hughes was in 1980 noted as Vice President, Far East Asian and Pan-American operations; the others …?

Never to be sighted again in penance for their misdeeds???   


<<< From 1957…

… to 1982 >>>

1957  : Assets $600,000 fro initial share issue, 12 employees, net loss $115,000

 1982 : Twenty-fifth anniversary  : assets $6.9 billion, 56,000 employees, net profit (1981) of $155 million