The Early Era
The Bendix G-15 was a small, very early computing device. It was purchased
in 1959 with money obtained from a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant,
and was used in a few courses as well as by some faculty in their research.
The G-15 was operated in an open-shop environment, and scheduled by use of a
sign-up sheet with two-hour slots.
The only picture I could find of a G-15 was from an ad
in CACM around 1962. It's actually an ad for one of their
software products but included a picture of a G-15 in the
as well as more links from those two URLs.
Some time during this period a Calcomp pen plotter was acquired that would
eventually be connected to several computers (including the Philco and Sigma 7).
This was a Bendix PA-3 plotter which was actually a Calcomp model 560R
with a few trivial modifications (including blue paint to match the
Bendix color scheme).
Within two years it had become difficult to find an empty time slot on the
sign-up sheet. To improve the computing capacity at UW, an IBM 1620 was
purchased with UW funds, and was also operated in an open shop with a sign-up
During this time the computers were overseen by a three-quarter-time
director, a half-time secretary, and two graduate students. Both systems
resided in a room in the basement of the Commerce and Industry
building (now the College of Business).
By 1964 both systems were scheduled almost 24 hours a day, every day of the
week. More classes were using them, and more faculty were doing research
that needed computing. It was clear that a significant increase in
computing power was necessary, so a search was started to find the best
system to purchase as a replacement.
I understand that Bendix, or at least their computer division,
was acquired by Control Data Corporation sometime around 1962 or
1963. They briefly continued to sell the Bendix G-20.
Next: The Philco Era