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Oral history interview with Robert E. Mumma, 1984 Apr. 19. Preview this item
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Oral history interview with Robert E. Mumma, 1984 Apr. 19.

Author: Robert E Mumma; William Aspray
Edition/Format:   Archival material : English
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
Mumma describes National Cash Register's, later NCR, early years in the electronic computing industry. Mumma began working at NCR in 1939 in the newly formed Electronic Research Department. Before World War II he designed gas thyratron tubes for use as decimal counters in an electronic calculator. Mumma discusses the contact NCR had during this period with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Harvard
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Details

Genre/Form: Oral histories
Document Type: Archival Material
All Authors / Contributors: Robert E Mumma; William Aspray
OCLC Number: 63306927
Notes: Recorded in Dayton, Ohio.
Description: Sound cassettes : 2 (60 min. each) : analog, mono. Transcript : 42 p. Computer data (1 file : 65K)

Abstract:

Mumma describes National Cash Register's, later NCR, early years in the electronic computing industry. Mumma began working at NCR in 1939 in the newly formed Electronic Research Department. Before World War II he designed gas thyratron tubes for use as decimal counters in an electronic calculator. Mumma discusses the contact NCR had during this period with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Harvard Computation Laboratory, and reviews some of the early research projects and personnel at NCR.

Mumma describes in guarded terms the work NCR did before the war for the National Defense Research Committee on a secret communication system and during the war on a high speed counter for measuring muzzle velocity of cannon shells. He recounts how war-time work on cryptanalytic equipment took all the company's effort, and how this shaped company policy resisting government contract work after the war. The second half of the interview describes NCR's move into commercial electronic computing from the 1940s through the early 1960s, with such products as cash registers with punched tape, accounting machines with electronic multiplier, high-speed printers, bar code readers, point-of-sale terminals, and magnetic ink character recognition equipment. Mumma explains how NCR considered purchasing Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation prior to its acquisition of Computer Research Corporation (NCR-CRC), as a way of entering the computer business. The division of labor between NCR-Dayton and the NCR-CRC division are considered, as are the difficulties of promoting, developing, and marketing electronic technology in the mechanically-oriented environment of NCR headquarters in Dayton, Ohio.

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