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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 background.

Bendix 15 Computer magazine ad from 1962

See also:

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).

Calcomp pen plotterCalcomp pen plotter magazine ad

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 sheet.

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

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