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Burroughs

From Academic Kids

This article is about the Burroughs Corporation. Other famous people with the surname of Burroughs include:


The Burroughs Corporation began in 1886 as the American Arithmometer Company in St. Louis selling an adding machine invented by William Seward Burroughs.

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Wsbaddingmachine.jpg
A Burroughs Class 1/Model 9 adding machine.

The company moved to Detroit in 1904 and changed its name to the Burroughs Adding Machine Company, in honor of Burroughs, who died in 1898. Burroughs grew into the biggest adding machine company in America, although by the 1950s it was selling more than the basic adding machines, including typewriters and computers.

In 1953 the Burroughs Adding Machine Company was renamed the Burroughs Corporation and began moving into computer products, initially for banking institutions. This move began with the purchase of ElectoData in Pasadena, California. The first major computer product that came from this marriage was the B205 Tube computer.

The Burroughs Corporation developed three highly innovative architectures. All three architectures were considered "main-frame" class machines:

  • The "Burroughs large systems" machines starting with the B5000 in 1961 were stack machines designed to be programmed in an extended Algol 60. Their operating systems, called MCP (Master Control Program - the name later borrowed by the screenwriters for Tron), were programmed in ESPOL (Executive Systems Programming Oriented Language, a minor extension of Algol) almost a decade before Unix, and the command interface developed into a compiled structured language with procedures called WFL (Work Flow Language).
  • Burroughs produced the B2000 or "medium systems" computers aimed primarily at the business world. The machines were architected to execute Cobol efficiently. This included a BCD Binary Coded Decimal based arithmetic unit, storing and addressing the main memory using Base 10 numbering instead of binary.
  • Burroughs produced the B1700 or "small Systems" that were designed to be microprogrammed, with each process potentially getting its own virtual machine designed to be the best match to the programming language chosen for the application being run.

Burroughs Corporation was always a distant second to IBM commercially if not technologically. At the same time, Burroughs was very much a competitor and just like IBM, Burroughs tried to supply a complete answer for its customers. This included providing Burroughs designed Printers, Disk Drives, Tape Drives, etc. even to the point of providing computer paper!

Burroughs was one of the eight major computer companies (with IBM - the largest, Honeywell, Scientific Data Systems, Control Data Corporation, General Electric, RCA and UNIVAC) through most of the 1960s.

Later, this group became known as the BUNCH - (Burroughs, UNIVAC, NCR, Control Data Corporation, and Honeywell)

In September 1986, Burroughs Corporation merged with Sperry Corporation to form Unisys Corporation.af:Burroughs de:Burroughs fr:Burroughs sk:Burroughs

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