Monday, September 24, 2012

Breaking Ground with the CP-901

Optimum performance and a 45-year long service life
by Lowell B.

CP-901 computer development began in the fall of 1966. Ken Oehlers led the logic design team, John Bonnes did the arithmetic section, Ralph Mattie led the memory design group, George Kydd did the I/O unit design, Gene Geisz led the power supply design, Chuck Wenz led the mechanical design and I did the memory interface design, interfaced with the manufacturing department, then was the engineer responsible for the environmental qualification testing.

In September 1967, I was working checkout and test of the early CP-901 computers in Univac Plant 1, St. Paul, Minnesota. The Navy flew a P-3C into Wold Chamberlin Field. Jack Anderson, a field service engineer, and I got on board with the CP-901 S/N 1 computer then flew to the Naval Air Development Center (NADC) at Johnsville, Pennsylvania, for the first customer delivery. Jack and I installed the CP-901 into their computer center for P-3C ASW software development.

Twenty years later, I smiled while watching a P-3C in the Hunt for Red October movie. We'd flown in a sub-hunter plane. Forty-five years later, in 2012, a retired Lockheed Martin Mission Systems & Sensors program manager told me that there are still 40 CP-901s flying aboard Japanese P-3C aircraft. Very few design engineers can claim their design team product has had such a long service life. I also led the design team that developed the S-3B aircraft AN/AYK-10 computer Harpoon missile launch interface.

 I smiled while watching Hunt for Red October because we 'd flown in a sub-hunter plane.