Control Data Australia Memories compiled by Brian Membrey

ETR : Herb Hughes

It wasn’t until July 14, 1970 that the name of “Mr. H. M. Hughes” was mentioned in a one-liner as Trevor’s replacement, and even then it was October 6 before The Oz carried an in-depth article after his arrival.

Over forty years later (oh my God!), it is impossible to tell, but there are a few implications that the personal dynamics between The Australian's Noel Bennett and Herb Hughes may have suffered somewhat compared to Bennett's previous relationship with Trevor Robinson.

One would think that after all the publicity accorded Trevor's resignation, Bennett would have been knocking the door down to be the first with an interview with his replacement, yet the first personal contact (at least "on the record") did not come until three months afterwards.

Perhaps as significantly, any major announcements by the company between October and May of the following year generally had statements issued by Peter MacGregor, with nary a mention of Hughes.

As a mere underling, I had no personal contact with Herb, but maybe he was somewhat reticent  to deal with the press.

When the second interview finally came in May, 1971, Bennett went out of his way to report "Mr. Hughes was much more relaxed at the interview than when he was first interviewed some seven months ago on his arrival in Australia", strongly suggesting there may have been some tensions during the earlier meeting.

At the time of adding this comment, (30 April, 2013), I haven't researched much past the second interview - The Australian's reports over the ensuing months may shed some further light on the relationship between the two men.

The Australian, October 6, 1970 (Noel Bennett)

CDA expects to thrive on competition

Moving in the computer industry, one is constantly exposed to people who bear important managerial responsibilities at a comparatively young age.

Such a one is Mr. H. M. Hughes, who, at 31, carries the responsibility of regional manager of Australasia and some parts of Asia for Control Data Corporation.

Mr. Hughes, an American, recently arrived from the U.S. to take up the position vacated by Mr. E T. Robinson.

A graduate in industrial engineering, he has spent eight years with Control Data Corporation occupying what appears to be important managerial positions.

For about four years, Mr. Hughes was managing a Data Centre at Houston, one year as regional manager of Data centres, one year as general manager of the business products division, and one and a half years, general sales manager, space and defence.It was suggested to Mr. Hughes that this background was service as against equipment marketing-oriented,  whereas his prime interest in his Australian position would be marketing of Equipment.

Mr. Hughes was quick to point out that the Houston position involved the selling of equipment other than terminals to be connected to the Data Centre and that his time with space and defence involved the marketing of equipment to prime contractors.

Asked how CDC expected to fare in the prevailing intensive computer marketing environment, he replied that competition was nothing new for CDC and that, in fact, it thrived on good, healthy competition and expected to get its fair share of business in Australia.

“Some companies are going to be hurt, but not us”, Mr. Hughes confidently predicted.

On the question whether CDC being primarily identified with engineering and scientific applications, as against the commercial use of computers, Mr. Hughes replied that in the emerging business climate, it was becoming more difficult to differentiate between the scientific and commercial markets.

The business, scientific and industrial markets were tending to merge with industry looking to computers to solve their total problems.

CDC was finding that it was not a commercial market as such, but an industry problem-solving situation.

Mr. Hughes said that in the business environment, a manager was looking for means to manage data which helped him to run his business and for this required real-time attributes in his computers, as well as large data bases.

“Our computer line fits these requirements really well and we are pushing them”, he said.

On the range of CDC equipment, Mr. Hughes said it had the second largest product line among computer manufacturers, including extremely small computers used by the military and whose development would pay off for products in CDC's standard line.

Control Data Australia has the contract to supply 850 ticket issuing terminals to the Victorian TAB and Mr. Hughes said that the company wanted to make other equipment as well.

Commenting on the recent agreement entered into between CDC and the Canadian Government to set up computer manufacturing facilities there, Mr. Hughes replied that it was the company's policy to examine the various parts of the world to see whether a similar relationship could exist between industry and governments.

He would determine if similar fertile grounds for development of such ventures existed in Australia.

Mr. Hughes, who expected to stay in Australia for two or three years, said he expected to see a greater interchange between CDC people world-wide  … “It is easy to get into a rut in any job and the only way to avoid this and to assist in the development of people is to expose them to different situations”.

On the question of whether he would appoint a managing director of Control Data Australia, Mr. Hughes replied that he was still determining this question.

(Also Between Ourselves, Issue 1)