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Guide to the Burt Grad General Electric and IBM records
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Collection Details
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  • Access Restrictions
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition
  • Processing Information
  • Biographical/Historical Note
  • Scope and Content of the Collection
  • Arrangement
  • Related Collections at CHM
  • Related Collections at Other Repositories

  • Title: Burt Grad General Electric and IBM records
    Identifier/Call Number: X6906.2014
    Contributing Institution: Computer History Museum
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 4.17 Linear feet, 3 record cartons and 1 manuscript box
    Date (inclusive): 1949-1978
    Abstract: This collection contains records from Burt Grad’s work with General Electric and IBM from 1949-1978. Grad did substantial work on factory automation and business systems management, reflected in large projects called the Integrated Systems Project (ISP) and the Study Organization Plan (SOP), both documented in this collection. The collection also contains content about decision tables – a tool Grad developed to map cause-and-effect logic for systems programming purposes. Additional areas of interest include Grad’s work on Application System Development Method (ASDM), factory simulation models, the Productron computer, TABSOL software for automation of decision tables, and more. Materials consist primarily of technical reports and notes, correspondence, manuals and marketing materials for products, and some articles.
    creator: Grad, Burton

    Access Restrictions

    The collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    The Computer History Museum (CHM) can only claim physical ownership of the collection. Users are responsible for satisfying any claims of the copyright holder. Requests for copying and permission to publish, quote, or reproduce any portion of the Computer History Museum’s collection must be obtained jointly from both the copyright holder (if applicable) and the Computer History Museum.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of Item], [Date], Burt Grad General Electric and IBM records, Lot X6906.2014, Box [#], Folder [#], Catalog [#], Computer History Museum.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Gift of Burt Grad, 2014.

    Processing Information

    Burt Grad, Carol Anne Ances, Doug Jerger and the SI SIG inventoried this collection and additional Burt Grad materials (see also X7213.2014) in December, 2008, as part of the donation process. Additionally, an item level listing of materials within folders of this collection was also provided (no author or date indicated). Both inventories were used during processing to restore original order, and descriptive information from the item-level inventory was included in catalog records where applicable.

    Biographical/Historical Note

    Burton (Burt) Grad was born in 1928 in Philadelphia, where his mother and her family had emigrated from the Ukraine in 1914. In 1932, Grad’s family moved from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C., where he completed high school. He then received a Bachelor of Management Engineering degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, in 1949.
    Grad worked for General Electric (GE) from 1949 to 1960. He started in the Manufacturing Training Program, followed by a position in the Production Control department of the Large Steam Turbine Division. There, Grad used International Business Machines (IBM) punched card machines and plug boards to help set up manufacturing control applications. He went on to work with the Corporate Production Control Services department in New York City, where he programmed a Univac I computer for use at the Dishwasher and Disposal Department in Louisville, Kentucky. Grad also led a factory simulation project, designed the Productron computer, and helped a variety of GE manufacturing departments implement computer automation for production and inventory control.
    Starting in late 1957, Grad started the Integrated Systems Project (ISP) which was aimed at automating the complete information flow in a factory. Initially the project was at the 39 Frame Motor plant in Ft. Wayne, Indiana where he developed the concept of decision tables, which was a method of documenting cause/effect logic. The Computer Usage Company (CUC) wrote a computer program called TABSOL for GE that would interpret and run the decision tables.
    When the 39 Frame motor project was terminated for budget reasons, Grad was able to initiate an expanded ISP effort at a meter plant in Lynn, Massachusetts. The results demonstrated the potential to increase efficiency and profit margin for GE through both information and factory operation automation; however, upper management in GE was not prepared to build or restructure a plant based on the Integrated Systems Project approach or in permitting him to publish the study results. Quite frustrated, Grad left GE and went to work for IBM in 1960.
    Shortly after Grad started with IBM he became a project manager in the Data Processing Division in White Plains, New York leading the Study Organization Plan (SOP) project. SOP was related to the ISP work, but was focused on a general approach to developing integrated information systems for any business. With IBM support, Management Systems was published by Holt, Rinehart and Winston in 1968 (authors: Thomas B. Glans, Burton Grad, David Holstein, William E. Myers, and Richard N. Schmidt).
    Grad was the Data Processing Division’s representative on IBM’s three-member team that was part of the Unbundling Task Force; they were responsible for planning the announcement of separately priced software in 1969. The Data Processing Division was then made responsible for developing and marketing the application software products for mainframe computers and Grad was named as one of the directors of development for FICUT, one of four industry groups within the Data Processing Division (FICUT stood for financial, insurance, communications, utilities, transportation). Grad worked in software development in the Data Processing Division until the mid-1970s, when he moved to IBM Research where he arranged support for Harry Markowitz’s work on a simulation-related program called EAS-E and worked on providing a comprehensive survey of application development methodology programs and tools in IBM.
    Starting in the early 1970s, Grad served as a representative for IBM at ADAPSO, the computer software and services trade association; he was active within the Software Industry Association section. Grad served on numerous committees at ADAPSO in the 1970s and 1980s, including the Technical Information Service Committee.
    In 1978, Grad left IBM and started his own consulting firm, Burton Grad Associates, Inc. Leveraging the relationships with software companies that he had developed through ADAPSO, he helped clients with strategic planning, organizational consulting, due diligence studies, and valuation studies. In the 2000s, Grad’s consulting work slowed down and he spent more time in collecting and preserving software industry historical records for the Software History Center, which Luanne Johnson and he had co-founded in 2000. Grad then served as co-chair with Johnson of the Software Industry Special Interest Group (SI SIG) at the Computer History Museum. He currently lives in Westport, Connecticut.

    Scope and Content of the Collection

    The Burt Grad General Electric and IBM records consist of materials collected by Burt Grad during his career at General Electric and IBM from 1949-1978. The records include technical documentation of and research informing Grad’s work on specific projects at both companies, especially focused on factory automation and the integration of systems across departments in factories and offices. These projects include, but are not limited to, the Integrated Systems Project (ISP) at General Electric and the Study Organization Plan (SOP) at IBM.
    The use of decision tables as a tool for both automation and system integration are well documented in this collection. Materials about software products such as TABSOL that were developed for automation of decision tables are also represented. Some materials pertain to the use of early computer hardware in factory settings, and early software development.
    A significant amount of materials in the collection are technical notes and reports authored or co-authored by Grad. There are also correspondence, memoranda, and handwritten notes relating to the projects Grad was involved in. Some articles, manuals and promotional materials for software and hardware products are also in the collection.
    The series are arranged in their original order. Folders within series are arranged chronologically except for subseries 3.1, which is arranged alphabetically.


    The collection is arranged into 3 series:
    Series 1, General Electric records, 1949-1962
    Series 2, Special Projects, 1957-1977
    Series 3, International Business Machines records, 1960-1978

    Related Collections at CHM

    Burton Grad and Associates, Inc. records, Lot X7213.2014, catalog number.
    Grad, Burt (Burton) oral history : General Electric Years, Lot X4362.2008, catalog number 102702248.
    Grad, Burt (Burton) oral history : International Business Machines (IBM), Lot X4362.2008, catalog number 102701925.
    Grad, Burt (Burton) oral history : Burton Grad Associates, Inc., Lot X4362.2008, catalog number 102746731.
    Grad, Burt (Burton) oral history : history and education, ADAPSO, Heights Information Technology Services, and Customer Care, Inc., Lot X4362.2008, catalog number 102701924
    Grad, Burton and Hugh Williams oral history, Lot X4562.2008, catalog number 102658225.

    Related Collections at Other Repositories

    University of Minnesota, Charles Babbage Institute, Burt Grad IBM and ADAPSO materials. Unprocessed.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Grad, Burton
    Automation in manufacturing
    Computer software--Development
    Decision logic tables
    General Electric Company
    International Business Machines Corporation