Systems Development Corporation

Chuck at the RAND Corporation

Here are the details of a book authored by Davis, R.H., P.B. Carpenter and C.W, Missler. A GAME FOR STUDYING THE PROBLEMS OF ARMS CONTROL. AP-779. System Development Corporation, Santa Monica, California, May 11, 1962

As a future tie in to Chuck's teachings, Chuck mentions the book 'A Million Random Digits with 100,000 Normal Deviates,' in Learn the Bible in 24 Hours

From 'Mental Floss'[1]

If you think the Internet came out of Silicon Valley, that NASA planned the first satellite to orbit Earth, or that IBM created the modern computer—think again. Each one of these breakthroughs was conceived at RAND, a shadowy think tank in Santa Monica, California.

RAND rose out of the ashes of World War II. After witnessing the success of the Manhattan Project—the $2 billion initiative that created the first atomic bomb—a five-star Air Force general named Henry "Hap" Arnold (pictured) concluded that America needed a team of great minds to keep the country's technology ahead of the rest of the world. In 1946, he gathered together a small group of scientists and $10 million in funding and started RAND (which stands for Research and Development). He even convinced a family friend, aircraft magnate Donald Douglas, to house the project at his factory in Santa Monica.

After a few short months, RAND got the attention of academics, politicians, and military strategists alike by issuing a prophetic study called "Preliminary Design of an Experimental World-Circling Spaceship." At the time, rocket science was still in its infancy, so RAND's call for an orbiting space station was revolutionary. Not only did the think tank specify the kind of fuel the spaceship would need and how quickly it could be built, but it also outlined how the station could predict the weather, transform long-distance communication, and, most importantly, intimidate our rivals abroad. If America could put a satellite into space, what else was she capable of?

War Games

The Soviets had good reason to worry about RAND. In 1957, the Air Force hired the think tank to create spy satellites. Within two years, it developed CORONA—a covert system that aimed to send camera-carrying satellites into orbit on the backs of missiles. While the idea was genius, the design was flawed. It took 13 failed attempts before the system finally got off the ground in 1959. Once it did, however, the results were spectacular. The CORONA satellite returned with 161 lbs. of film about the Soviet Union, more footage than spy planes had recovered in the previous four years combined. For the following decade, CORONA became the backbone of American intelligence on the Soviet Union. Researchers watched troops march along the Russian border with China and spied on cities they'd never seen before. They could even count the fruit in Soviet orchards and analyze their crops.

By the early 1960s, RAND had established itself as a fixture of U.S. policy. Branching out from straight rocket science, the think tank had become the center of the nation's nuclear strategy.

One high-profile RAND genius, John Williams, developed game theory to predict how the cagey Soviet Union might act during conflict.

Through the years, RAND's sphere of influence became more visible. In the 1960s, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara hired scores of its young researchers—dubbed the "Whiz Kids"—to reorganize the Pentagon. (Chuck was one of the Whiz Kids)

Spinning a World Wide Web

While RAND has played a major role in keeping America safe from military attacks and nuclear catastrophes, the think tank has also left its mark on the communications industry. RAND is directly responsible for packet switching, the technology that made the Internet possible. It all started in the 1960s, when the military asked RAND researchers to solve a hypothetical question: If the Soviet Union destroyed all of our communication systems with a nuclear bomb, how could we fight back?

A young engineer named Paul Baran provided an elegant solution by likening the nation's telephone wires to the brain's central nervous system. Baran proposed sending messages via phone lines and changing words into numbers to avoid noise and distortion. Baran also decided that any content relayed should be divided into "packets," or discrete bundles of data. As a result, messages were separated during transmission, and would then automatically reconfigure themselves once they reached their destination. More importantly, if direct communications were destroyed, the packets could reroute themselves through phone lines anywhere in the world.

Baran tried to convince AT&T to install the system, but the phone giant refused to create something that could become its worst competitor.

Instead, the creation of a worldwide packet-switching system was left to the Pentagon, which devised ARPANET, the predecessor to the Internet.

From Wikipedia[2]

System Development Corporation (SDC), based in Santa Monica, California, was considered the world's first computer software company.[3]

SDC started in 1955 as the systems engineering group for the SAGE air defense ground system at the RAND Corporation. RAND spun off the group in 1957 as a non-profit organization that provided expertise for the United States military in the design, integration, and testing of large, complex, computer-controlled systems.

SDC became for-profit in 1969. With that change, it began to offer its services to all comers rather than only to the American military.

In 1980, SDC was sold by its board of directors to Burroughs Corporation. In 1986, Burroughs merged with the Sperry Corporation to form Unisys, and SDC was folded into Unisys Defense Systems. In 1991, Unisys Defense Systems was renamed Paramax, a wholly owned subsidiary of Unisys, so that it could be spun off to reduce Unisys debt.[4] In 1995, Unisys sold Paramax to the Loral Corporation, although a small portion of it, containing some projects that had originated in SDC, remained with Unisys. In 1996 Loral sold Paramax to Lockheed Martin. In 1997, the Paramax business unit was separated from Lockheed Martin under the control of Frank Lanza (one of the original founders of Loral), and is now a subsidiary of L-3 Communications.

Significant contributions

Considered to be the worlds first computer software company. In 1963 two computer scientists first formally wrote down one of the most iconic sorting algorithms of all time called "bubble sort." With each round of the algorithm; the largest unsorted object "bubbles" to the top.[5]

In the 1960s, SDC developed the timesharing system for the AN/FSQ-32 mainframe computer for Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The Q-32 was one of the first systems to support both multiple users and inter-computer communications. Experiments with a dedicated modem connection to the TX-2 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology led to computer communication applications such as e-mail. In the 1960s, SDC also developed the JOVIAL programming language and the Time-Shared Data Management System (TDMS), an Inverted File Database System. Both were commonly used in real-time military systems.


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  3. ^ See Campbell-Kelly, 2003, pp.36-41.
  4. ^ Defense & Security Intelligence & Analysis: IHS Jane's | IHS. Retrieved on 2014-02-21.
  5. ^ The secret rules of modern living: Algorithms