Charles Babbage Institute: The Computing Industry in Minnesota > A-B
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Minnesota Computing Companies


Scientific Computers (established 1959)

Scientific Computers was the result of a collaboration of James E. Peterson and M. Turhan Taner, who had met as graduate students at the University of Minnesota in 1953. The company was founded on May 20, 1959 in the basement of 1315 Fourth St. S. E., near the university campus, and provided computer service for Honeywell, General Mills, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Motec Industries. In addition to its own staff, the company relied on contracting the expertise of the University of Minnesota faculty. 

Upper Midwest Investor, (December 1961) 22-23, 27.

Secure Computing Corporation (established 1985)
Secure Computing started 15 years ago as the security division of Honeywell Computing. Over the years, Secure Computing invented many of the technologies and standards that now underlie information security. 

Headquartered in St. Paul, Minn., Secure Computing Corporation is one of the largest network security companies in the world.  Secure Computing's comprehensive suite of interoperable products addresses every aspect of enterprise network security including firewalls, Web filtering, identification, authentication, authorization, accounting and encryption technologies. The only network security company that provides end-to-end network solutions encompassing all universal enterprise security standards, Secure Computing has more than 3,000 customers worldwide, ranging from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies and government agencies. 

1995 Secure Computing introduced the world's first truly secure proxy-based firewall, Sidewinder (tm). Secure then acquired the two market leading access control products - SafeWord (tm) authentication, and SmartFilter (tm) URL filtering. These three products are converging to become a complete, secure extranet solution for e-business. 

October 1998 the company moved its corporate headquarters to San Jose, California.

Secure Computing Corporation company web site, October 2000

Secure Computing Technology Corporation (established 1985)
See:  Secure Computing Corporation
Sessions Company (established 1961)
Sessions grew out of the Sessions Engineering Company of Chicago, which established a Minneapolis branch in 1957. The branch was headed by Gustav Maass, who had headed his own management consulting firm where he had worked with John Mauchly on a performance requirement problem. Maass joined Pillsbury in 1954 before heading the Sessions branch. On July 28, 1961, the branch became a separate company dedicated to management planning services. Located in downtown Minneapolis, the company leased a General Electric computer to establish itself in the computer service industry. 

Upper Midwest Investor, (December 1961) 26-27, 30.

ShowCase Corporation (established 1989)
The ShowCase® Enterprise Information Portal (EIP) integrates Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence applications with Web Content Management, providing a secure way to manage and distribute personalized information across an enterprise and among suppliers, distributors, business partners and customers. With an EIP, an easy-to-use Web browser allows you to access and recombine information from diverse sources and on a variety of platforms. ShowCase corporate headquarters are located at  4115 Highway 52 North, Suite 300, Rochester, Minnesota.

ShowCase Corporation company web-site, October 2000

Software Moguls, Inc. (established 1986)

Software Technology Center

Spanlink Communications (established 1987)

Spanlink Communications, of Minneapolis, Minnesota, is a software company that focuses on the development of software for voice processing, including interactive voice response and computer telephone integration. Spanlink makes use of advanced speech technologies including automatic speech recognition and speech synthesis.  Spanlink specializes in rapid deployment of complex, integrated solutions and provides several award-winning products that facilitate the integration of multi-media communications.

SpanLink provides comprehensive services package for deploying solutions from Cisco Systems’ Internet Communications Software Group, including Cisco Intelligent Contact Management (ICM) software, Cisco Customer Interaction Suite (CIS), and their uOne Unified Communications (UC) solution. Services include business and technology consulting, systems integration services, training, and our Center of Excellence Lab to facilitate rapid deployment. Cisco Systems is headquartered in San Jose, California.

Spanlink was founded in 1987 by three partners, two of which were graduates of the University of Minnesota's Mechanical Engineering Department. Spanlink Communications is headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and currently has more than 60 employees and conducts business throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe. 

Spanlink Communications chronology

1993 Spanlink became one of only three companies certified by Bell Laboratories to develop applications with their advanced speech processing technology, including speech recognition.

1994 Spanlink delivered the first German speech recognition based-telephone banking systems to major banks in Germany.

1995 Spanlink's WebCall was selected by David Coursey, the editor of PC Letter, to be demonstrated at DEMO '96 along with the 50 top new products expected to be released in 1996.

1996 Spanlink's WebCall was awarded "Product of the Year (Internet Category)" by Call Center magazine and "Best of Class" in the voice and telecom solutions category of the Internet Commerce Expo (ICE), an IDG (International Data Group) company.

1998 Spanlink's FastCall Enterprise received a "Best of Show" award at the 1998 Computer Telephony Conference & Exhibition. 

1999 Spanlink's FastCall“ Agent Computer Telephone Integration (CTI) solution was named "TELECONNECT Product of the Year" by TELECONNECT magazine.

Spanlink's FastCall“ Enterprise Server was named "Product of the Year" by Communications Solutions magazine, formerly CTI Magazine. 

Spanlink's FastCall.commerce, a business-to-business application of Spanlink’s FastCall Enterprise products, was named "Product of the Year" by C@LL CENTER CRM Solutions magazine. 

2000 Spanlink is awarded the CRM Excellence Award from Technology Marketing Corporation (TMC), publisher of Communications Solutions, C@LL CENTER CRM Solutions and INTERNET TELEPHONY magazines.

Spanlink Communications management

  • Brett Shockley, Chairman: Mr. Shockley, a founder of Spanlink Communications, is vice president and general manager for the Customer Contact Business Unit in the Cisco Systems, Inc.'s Internet Communications Software Group (ICSG). His group is chartered with bringing to market the world’s leading software platform for multi-media customer contact. Prior to joining the Cisco ICSG, Mr. Shockley was co-founder and CEO of Spanlink Communications. He was instrumental in taking Spanlink from a $3,000 of initial capital investment to an IPO, and then in 2000 taking the company private and selling a minority interest to Cisco. Mr. Shockley has over 20 years of experience in the telecommunications and call center markets having pioneered the concept of Web-enabled call centers and releasing the industry's first product, WebCall, in 1995. He holds a patent for a telecommunications device and a Bachelor Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Minnesota.
  • Loren A Singer, Jr. has been Secretary and a director since 1988 and is a founder of the company. Mr. Singer also served as a lead software engineer from 1988 to June 1997. He currently provides consulting services to the company.
  • Bruce E. Humphrey has been a director of the company since 1996.
Spanlink Communications company website, October 2000

Sperry Univac (established 1955; ceased 1986)

8424 Disk Subsystem
8424 Disk Subsystem

Sperry Gyroscope Company was incorporated in 1929, and in 1933, SperryCorporation was incorporated as a holding company of other small firms, including SperryGyroscope, Ford Instrument Company, and Intercontinental Aviation, Inc. In 1955 it acquired Remington Rand.  Sperry Gyroscope was interested in Remington Rand because of the UNIVAC, the first commerically available computer, which Remington Rand produced and delivered to the United States Census Bureau in 1951. At the time, Remington Rand was known mostly for its typewriters, although with the 1955 takeover by Sperry, Remington was dropped from the name, and the newcompany was known as Sperry Rand. Sperry Rand continued to produce UNIVACs and expand its computer product line. By the time of the merger with Burroughs Corporation in 1986, SperryRand had dropped the Rand part of its name, and was simply known as the Sperry Corporation.

See also: Unisys and Remington Rand Univac

Summit Medical Systems, Inc. (established 1985)


Syntegra is a global consulting and information systems business that helps organizations change and seize business opportunities through the creative and dynamic application of new technology. 

Created by BT in 1993, Syntegra has grown rapidly by focusing on the convergence of IT, telecommunications and consulting, and by building a global understanding of key market sectors. The Syntegra group now has over 5,000 people, revenues of around £600 million and operations in Europe, North America, Asia and Australia. Syntegra customers include some of the biggest corporate names such as: VISA; Merrill Lynch; British Airways; Shell and Heineken. Syntegra also works with many different governments around the world.

Syntegra's Unites States headquarters are located 4201 Lexington Avenue North, Arden Hills, Minnesota.  It also has a Twin Cities location at 401 North 3rd Street, Suite 230 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Control Data Systems, Inc. was acquired by Syntegra in September 1999. 

December 1, 1999 Control Data Systems has operated under the Syntegra brand.

See also:  Control Data Corporation and Control Data Systems

Source: Syntegra Corporation company web site, September 2000.

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Technalysis (established 1969)

Technalysis Corporation (established 1968)

TestQuest, Inc. (established 2000)

Formerly B-Tree Verification Systems, Inc., TestQuest provides automated testing equipment for software-based electronic systems such as cellular phones and Palm Pilot hand-held computers. The 17-year-old company pioneered automated functional testing for the medical device industry and has since expanded its product capabilities to include an array of software-based test systems. 

TestQuest targets companies, such as casinos, that still test their software-based equipment manually, which is expensive and time consuming. New markets also are opening as companies, such as large Web-based application firms, move toward wireless mobile devices. Customers include IBM, Motorola, Netpliance and Wyse Technology, as well as small companies.

See also:  B-Tree Systems, Inc.

"Eden Prairie's TestQuest has new name, direction." St. Paul Pioneer Press (June 4, 2000)
TestQuest, Inc., company web site, September 2000

Theratron Corporation


TMD (established 1979)

Transistor Electronics Corporation (established 1957)

Tricord Systems, Inc. (established 1987)

Tricord Systems, Inc. designs, develops and markets a line of innovative server appliances that enable critical business services ranging from data storage and content management to e-commerce. Based on revolutionary distributed file system technology, these intelligent, single-purpose devices feature seamless aggregation with unprecedented ease of management. Founded in 1987, Tricord systems became public in 1993 (Nasdaq:  TRCD).  Its corporate headquarters are located at 2800 Northwest Blvd., Plymouth, Minnesota, with satellite development and business offices in Colorado, California and Georgia.

Source:  Tricord Systems, Inc., company web site, October 2000

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Unisys -- Twin Cities Divisions (established 1986)
In September of 1986, Burroughs Corporation and Sperry Corporation completed a merger that had been started over a year before. W. Michael Blumenthal, president of Burroughs Corporation, and Joseph J. Kroger, president of Sperry Corporation, became Chairman/CEO and Vice-Chairman, respectively, of the new company. After an employee name change contest, the new company emerged with the name Unisys Corporation (which was actually submitted by about 10 people). 

At first, many forecasted the quick decline of this new company, citing the fact that it now had two incompatible product lines, and some theorized there would be friction between old Burroughs and Sperry executives. However, after several years of  adjustment and reorganization, Unisys Corporation did better than almost everyone in the industry expected. Unisys still exists today, although their market has shifted from mostly mainframes to the supplying and integrating of computer systems and services. They are also involved in software development with a commitment to open standards via the Unix operating system.

The merger, which was actually an acquisition of Sperry by Burroughs for $4.8 billion, put Unisys into second place in the computer market in 1986, with revenues of about $10.5 billion. This was the largest merger in the computer industry's history, and although impressive, Unisys was still only about 1/5 the size of IBM. A period of reorganization followed the merger with the closing of some facilities, combining of similar departments in Burroughs and Sperry and the divestment of non-computer related businesses. 

See also:  Remington Rand Univac and Sperry Univac

United Software (established 1969)

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Weismantel Associates, Inc. (established 1969?)

Waicom 16 installation, 1971
Waicom 16 installation, 1971

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XOX Corporation (established 1985)

XOX (pronounced zocks) Corporation creates leading edge software components for 3D modeling applications. These components include core geometry modules for general-purpose use, as well as higher level modules - or applets - which address specific problems in their application domains.

XOX Corporation was founded in 1985 in Ithaca, New York (Cornell University), to develop geometric modeling utilities.  The company is now headquartered in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota. It also maintains offices in Bangalore, India.   XOX is a publicly held corporation (Nasdaql: XOXC) with a stable base of revenues and clients.  The XOX facility in India is also available to its licensees and partners as a lower cost option for general customization and integration software services.

The company's flagship product - SHAPES® - is the leading software engine for geometry and topology applications in the geoscience industry and several other areas. XOX licenses its technology and provides custom development and integration services to its partners to rapidly bring 3D applications to market. SHAPES was conceived from the outset as a geometry system offering capabilities far beyond those of earlier systems. 

XOX Corporation company website, October 2000

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ZEOS International, Ltd (established 1981; ceased 1995?)
Located at 1301 Industrial Boulevard, Minneapolis, Minnesota, ZEOS merged into Micron Electronics, Inc. of Nampa, Indiana, a division of Micron Technology, Inc. headquartered out of Boise, Idaho.

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