COMPUTER MEMORIES, Chapter 56
A SALESMAN AT HIS BEST
They always say that a salesman has to have the guts to do whatever it takes to make a sale. One time, while working for Control Data, I invited three or four officials from a Los Angeles defense contractor, to Minneapolis to meet the “brass” and to see the new computers. Control Data’s big new computer, the 6600, was being built more-or-less in secret, at a plant hidden at the farm home of the famous computer engineer, Seymour Cray, in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, 75 miles or so east of Minneapolis. The story was that no one, not even Bill Norris the founder and President of CDC, was supposed to go there without an invitation. But then to some of us that is just a challenge.
I bought airplane tickets for each of us, and rented a car to get from the Chippewa Falls airport to the office and research lab. Since this was far out in the countryside, and this huge computer used a lot of electricity, someone told me to follow the thick electric wire strung up on the poles. That got us there as advertised. I went to the office and told them we were there for the demonstration. They said, “What demonstration,” but then got someone out of bed to come over to show us around. I carefully ignored all questions as to why we were there, as I had never told my guests about the possible problems we might be facing.
All went well until we returned to the head office in Minneapolis. I was practically dragged into the office of a top Vice President who demanded to know why I hadn’t asked for permission before taking that trip. I asked, “What would you have said if I had asked permission?” When he almost shouted that his answer would have been, “No,” I said, "That's why I didn’t ask."
Well, since they told us to be bold and inventive, I was more admired than disgraced. The bottom line is that the company installed a member of the 6600 line of computers, but some time after I had left Control Data.
Similar tidbits in: Memories of Early Computer Days
Email this Travel Tidbit to a friend
Email this page to a friend