Monday, October 26, 2009

State of the Art - 1969

When I graduated from college in 1969 the Computing Industry consisted of IBM and a group of (much) smaller competitors. These competitors were called the "7 Dwarfs" and eventually morphed into the "Bunch". They were Burroughs, Sperry Rand (eventually to become Unisys), NCR (National Cash Register), Control Data, Honeywell, RCA and GE. Most of them competed with IBM only in niche or specialized markets.
I looked up the 1969 Fortune 500 to get a feel for the relative size at the time of industry in general and the computer manufacturers in particular. What I found was surprising. IBM was the 6th largest firm. Of the top 10, three were auto (GM, Ford, Chrysler), four were oil (Exxon Mobil), Mobil, Texaco, Gulf), one was steel (U.S. Steel) and one was diversified (GE).
IBM was 6th with sales of $6.888 billion. GE was 4th with $8.381. RCA was 20th with $3.106. Sperry was 56th with $1.562. Honeywell was 72nd with $1.281. NCR was 86th with $1.102. Burroughs was 156th with $650 million and Control Data was 221st with $438 million. Overall industry was a lot smaller in 1969 than it is now. The largest firm was GM at $22.755 billion sales, the 10th largest firm was U.S. Steel with $4.536, the first firm over $1 Billion in sales was Olin with $1.002 in 104th. The last place on the list was held by Briggs & Stratton with $143.7 million in sales. Of course this was before business college was popular. A significant number of my classmates were sons of owners who had been sent off to learn "business".

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