Control Data Australia Memories compiled by Brian Membrey

Ex-CDA comments, suggestions, criticisms #top

Manufacturing : Business Products

The 1978 cancellation certainly appears to be the end of efforts by CDA to produce computer hardware locally.

CDA's Business Products Division was launched in the Spring of 1975 under Ken Evans with a sales force of two in both Melbourne and Sydney.  Between Ourselves in making the announcement suggested “the division will also be looking at the potential for manufacturing some business products lines in Australia, and to this end, there will be moves to identify what assistance is available from Government sources”.

Whether one-off assistance was forthcoming is unknown, but the ultimate product line - "consumables" such as OEM disks, tapes, diskettes, etc. enjoyed tariff protection of, I think, 20%.

As a contractor, I designed and programmed all the internal systems for the sales and marketing side of Business Products – I seem to remember there was big scare around 1981-82 when Bob Hawke's Government indicated it was considering removing the protection.

The objective of 1975 appears to have been some time in the future.

The Australian on 14 March, 1978 (ironically just three weeks before the cancellation of the VICTAB CRISP and QTAB GWS systems) carried the following report verbatim from New York with no "local content" added :-

"New York, Monday"

"One of America's biggest computer supply companies is keen to set up manufacturing in Australia.

"Mr. Peter Bailey, vice-president, Control Data Corporation, a $1,800 million a year company said it was possible that the multi-national would use Australia as a manufacturing base to supply other countries".

We see Australia as having a lot of growth opportunity. At the moment, we are examining how to go and in what form. It's a matter of what products and what type of arrangement we can get", he said.

MANUFACTURING

"There's a possibility we could move Australia and manufacture cassettes that could be exported to our other markets. But of this, we are uncertain as yet.

"CDC enthusiasm for Australia has been supported by solid growth in the three years has been supported by solid growth in the three years it has been supplying the Australian market. Sales have mushroomed. This year the company expects sales of between $1.8 and $2.25 million".

"Still the company is uncertain about how to approach the task of establishing a manufacturing link to Australia.

Mr Bailey did not rule out the possibility that CDC would take over a local company in order to establish a manufacturing base.  Talks with Magnetic Media Services Pty. Ltd., a privately-owned Australia company were proceeding "very slowly", he said.

Mr Bailey said that there were two factors to consider "When we do commit ourselves, and we are keen to have an Australian plant".

"And what type of technology will become important in the scheme of things".

MARKETING

CDC who have also concentrated more on marketing its products in Australia manufacture computer materials, business forms, punched cards, cassettes, discs and tapes".

Maybe somebody will know whether Peter Bailey came to Australia,  but surely with an existing manufacturing facility just winding down from a backlog of orders estimated at $10.6 million at the end of 1974, the decision to divert to "consumables" would have been pretty much fait accompli.

Production commenced at 15 Nellbern Road, Moorabbin in November, 1979, initially manufacturing 8" and 5¼" floppy disks under Production Manager Alan Brown who had been with CDA since 1964.

Presumably the switch from hardware to consumables would have involved extensive re-equipment of the plant, later shifted to 2 Sullivan Street, also in Moorabbin with Brown in charge of production and Ken Evans sales and administration (I think it was at this stage that both reported to Garry Pearce, then Finance Manager).



Ebay, March, 2017.  “Unused box of 8" floppy disks by Control Data. Labels applied, unformatted, open box. 10 disks”.  Not sure whether it’s my location, but the ad. reads “May not ship to Australia”.  US $46, probably twice what you would have paid early 1980s.

I vaguely seem to remember that the local packaging was much the same, blue, except probably with “Australia” appended to the logo.

Good luck with the formatting!