University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

The Computing Industry in Minnesota

Most histories of the computer industry point to Silicon Valley or Route 128 outside Boston as seedbeds. But Minnesota has a rich heritage in computing starting with Engineering Research Associates in 1946, the same year that the ENIAC was first publicly demonstrated.  Control Data was founded the same year (1957) as Digital Equipment Corporation and Fairchild Semiconductor. This page explores the companies, organizations, and persons who contributed to the Minnesota computer scene. A Bibliography of Sources on the Minnesota Computer Industry [CBI 2000] is also available.

Minnesota as a 'Digital State'

In 2013 Thomas Misa published Digital State: The Story of Minnesota's Computing Industry (University of Minnesota Press, 2013). It is the first archive-based examination of the state's unique computing history, featuring in-depth profiles of the Engineering Research Associates, Remington Rand Univac, Control Data, Honeywell, and IBM Rochester as well as consideration of how the computing industry paved the way for the state's notable medical devices industry.  Margaret Anderson Kelliher, president and CEO of Minnesota High Tech Association, calls it "thoroughly researched and engagingly written."  The book draws extensively on CBI oral histories, photographs, and archival collections.

Minnesota's Hidden History in Computing

A 2008-2009 series of monthly talks hosted by the Charles Babbage Institute on Minnesota's history in the computing industry. Links are provided here to the slides (and several video files) from the nine talks in the series.  Please contact <> for more information.

Minnesota's Supercomputer

Visit the CBI-ECE exhibit on IBM-Rochester's Blue Gene! Donated to CBI by IBM-Rochester and installed in Keller Hall by the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in 2009, this original develpment rack of Blue Gene/L allows views of its circuit boards, cooling fans, and wiring. Three accompanying panels tell its story: "Supercomputing slows down?" "Minnesota story," and "Impact on science and technology." The exhibit is located to the left of the Washington Ave SE entryway of Keller Hall.

Minnesota's Computer Companies

The list of Minnesota Computer Companies is organized alphabetically by Company name. Information regarding selected companies includes dates established and ceased, company profile, significant events in the company's history, company logos and images of computer products.