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Guide to the Gene M. Amdahl Papers
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Provenance
  • Biography / Administrative History
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms
  • Separated Material

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Guide to the Gene M. Amdahl Papers
    Dates: 1952-2001
    Collection number: X3242.2006
    Creator: Amdahl, Gene M. (Gene Myron), 1922-
    Collection Size: 1.88 linear feet 3 boxes
    Location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Museum's online catalog.
    Repository: Computer History Museum
    Mountain View, CA 94043
    Abstract: Gene M. Amdahl's papers include design drawings, correspondence, and research related to early Amdahl inventions, including the WISC (Wisconsin Integrally Synchronized Computer). The Amdahl papers primarily consist of clippings that feature Amdahl or the Amdahl Corporation. The collection covers the period 1952 through 2001 and contains correspondence, newsletters, oral history transcripts, programs, and a small number of photographs.
    Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    The Computer History Museum can only claim physical ownership of the collection. Users are responsible for satisfying any claims of the copyright holder. Permission to copy or publish any portion of the Computer History Museum's collection must be given by the Computer History Museum.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of Item], [Date], Gene M. Amdahl Papers, Lot X3242.2006, Computer History Museum, Mountain View, California.


    The Gene M. Amdahl papers were donated by Gene M. Amdahl to the Computer History Museum in 2006.

    Biography / Administrative History

    Computer designer, author, inventor and corporate executive, Gene M. Amdahl was born on November 16, 1922 in Flaundreau, South Dakota. Amdahl married Marion D. Quissell, also from Flandreau, in 1946 and the two eventually had three children. Amdahl served two years in the U.S. Navy during World War II. Amdahl received his B.S. in Engineering Physics from South Dakota State University in 1948, and earned his Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics from the University of Wisconsin in 1952.
    While beginning work on his doctorate, Amdahl designed the first overlapped, electronic floating-point computer. In his doctoral thesis, he described how to build the computer he had designed. The construction of that computer took place over a period of four years by students at the University of Wisconsin and is called the WISC (Wisconsin Integrally Synchronized Computer).
    In June of 1952 Amdahl joined International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) in Poughkeepsie, New York. Amdahl initially worked on character recognition and intelligence simulation. In 1953 he was made chief planner and project engineer for the IBM 704 development program. Following that he did the initial planning of the IBM 709 and the IBM 7030. Amdahl left IBM at the end of 1955.
    In 1956 Amdahl joined Ramo Woolridge in Los Angeles, California where he prepared several military and internal proposals in the data processing field. In addition, he did the system planning for what became the RW440 process control computer. In late 1956 Amdahl joined Aeronutronic Systems Inc., a subsidiary of the Ford Motor Company. There he headed the commercial data processing department, which was responsible for electronic data entry and computer equipment.
    Amdahl rejoined IBM in 1960, and during the period 1960-1970 was director of experimental machines, manager of systems design for advanced data processing systems, manager of technology for high speed systems, director of IBM's Advanced Computing Systems Laboratory in Menlo Park, CA, and principle architect of IBM's System 360 series of mainframe computers. Amdahl was named an IBM Fellow in 1965.
    Amdahl left IBM again in 1970 to form and operate his own company, Amdahl Corporation in Sunnyvale, CA, for the purpose of developing, manufacturing and marketing large-scale computer systems. His plan was to compete head-to-head with IBM in the mainframe market with what became the Amdahl 470 family of computers. In 1975, Amdahl Corporation shipped its first computer, the Amdahl 470 V/6. On September 1, 1979 Amdahl resigned as Chairman of the Board of Amdahl Corporation and served as Chairman Emeritus and a consultant to the company, until he retired in August 1980.
    In the fall of 1980 Dr. Amdahl started another venture, Trilogy Systems Corporation, which acquired Elxsi in 1985 for its principal computer system entry. In 1989, Amdahl stepped down as chairman of Elxsi to devote more time to other ventures. In 1986, Amdahl participated in the founding of three companies of which he was Chairman. These companies were Modular Power, American Industrial Group and Andor Systems International. However, by the mid-1990s all three companies were defunct.
    In 1996, at the age of 74, Amdahl founded Commercial Data Servers (CDS) in his continuing quest to merge mainframe technologies with the more popular PC technology. CDS changed its name to Xbridge Systems and narrowed its focus and by early 2005 Amdahl was no longer a member of their management team.
    In November 2004 Amdahl was appointed to the Board of Advisors of Massively Parallel Technologies.
    Amdahl is holder and co-holder of many patents on such developments as recognition of recorded intelligence, analog-to-digital conversion device, message display and transmission system, stored logic computer, large-scale shifter, memory protection system, storage protection and the IBM System/360.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    Gene M. Amdahl's papers consist primarily of clippings that mention or feature either Amdahl or the Amdahl Corporation. There is also material related to early inventions, correspondence, research papers, numerous oral history transcripts, programs and a small number of photographs and design drawings.
    • Series 1. Biographical Sketches (1991-1995)
    • Series 2. Inventions (1952-1986)
    • Series 3. Correspondence (1978-1992)
    • Series 4. Printed Material (1952-2001)
    • Series 5. Ephemera (1964-1995)
    • Series 6. Photographs (circa 1970-circa 1990)

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Amdahl, Gene M. (Gene Myron), 1922-
    Amdahl Corporation
    Computer Industry--California--Santa Clara County--History
    Computer Science--Biography

    Separated Material

    Serials that were separated from the collection because of duplication are:
    Computer World Vol. XXVI No. 25, June 22, 1992
    IBM Systems Journal Vol. 3, No. 2-3, 1964
    Monographs that were separated from the collection because of duplication are:
    Portraits of Success: Impressions of Silicon Valley Pioneers by Carolyn Caddes, 1986
    Wizards and their Wonders: Portraits in Computing by Christopher Morgan, 1997
    Portraits in Silicon by Robert Slater, 1987
    The Legend of Amdahl by Jeffrey L. Rodengen, 2000
    Physical objects were separated from the collection. There are 32 catalog records of various plaques, certificates, drawings, and a small number of computer hardware pieces. To view catalog records for the physical objects go to the CHM website at http://archive.computerhistory.org/search.