Control Data Australia Memories compiled by Brian Membrey

C.S.I.R.O : The Search Begins

01 June, 1962

There have been at least a dozen (million) articles of computing history published on the Web - but I’m prepared to bet large sums, even up to a dollar, that this is the first from that erstwhile publication, The Beverley Times from Western Australia (OK, it may well have been a syndicated article, but Bev. was the first to put her hand up, so she gets the nod).

Perhaps one thing that it does identify for us is the approximate date that tenders were firs issued for C.S.I.R.O. - perhaps it is significant that the Bureau of Census and Statistics was not mentioned amongst the potential high profile users of the network, suggesting that either the A.B.S. Tender had either been issued or was well-known ahead of its release.

“Computer Network for Commonwealth”

“Federal Cabinet has agreed to the establishment by C.S.I.R.O. of a system of electronic computers for the use of C.S.I.R.O., Universities, and Commonwealth Government Departments and Authorities. It is hoped that the first stage of the project, which will cost over £1,500,000, will come into operation in about eighteen months time.

The Minister-in-Charge of C.S.I.R.O. (Senator Gorton) said recently that the central unit of the system would be a large and powerful computer, located in Canberra. The Government would set aside £100,000 for a laboratory to house it.

"Satellite" computers will be set up in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra and Adelaide. Ail the units will be programmed in the same way and will make up an integrated network. About forty people, including twelve scientists, will be recruited to staff the project.

C.S.I.R.O. will be the biggest single user of the network. Several other Government Departments and agencies, including the Atomic Energy Commission, the Bureau of Meteorology, the P.M.G.'s Department and the Aeronautical Research Laboratories, will make extensive use of the computers.

In the future, the Atomic Energy Commission and some Departments and Universities will acquire their own "satellite" computers which they will operate themselves as part of the system. The development of automatic computers in recent years has been dramatic. In some branches of scientific research calculations which would ,have taken a life-time can now be made in a few hours. The use of computers is revolutionizing weather forecasting and is making possible the detailed analysis of complicated chemical compounds. The needs of C.S.I.R.O. and other Commonwealth users are growing fast.

By 1965, C.S.I.R.O. alone will need at least 5,000 hours of "satellite" computer time in a year, plus 1,500 hours on the central unit. Other Government users will together need more than that”.

At the present time, Australia's computing needs are doubling every year”.


Harold Holt : The Announcement

Predictions ; Financial Review 21 May, 1963

Order Won By “Outsider” : Financial Review, 20 June, 1963

Two Government Orders : The Canberra Times, 20 June, 1963

A.W.A. Involvement : The Canberra Times, 26 June, 1963

The Contract ex Government Gazette

Precious Cargo for Canberra

The Heymanson Payout