Burroughs Corporation

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Burroug's adding machine
Burroughs adding machine

The Burroughs Corporation was an American office equipment manufacturer.


Originally, the St. Louis American Arithmometer Company sold adding machines invented by William Seward Burroughs . On February 1, 1898, ten of these adding machines were set up at the postal order control in Munich, among others: each machine performs 2000 instruction orders plus addition and more in one hour with greater practice by the player [sic!]. The device is moderately large, about 35 cm high and 40 cm wide, and is placed on a fixed table. Through glass walls we can see into the mechanism of the complicated work, whose subtle composition, apart from the ingenious inventor, should probably only come to a full understanding ... [The machines] make many officials (2 per machine) superfluous in the postal order clearing service [...]. The weight of the machine is half a hundredweight. It is manufactured in Lincoln near Nottingham (England). [...]. After moving to Detroit in 1904, her name was changed to the Burroughs Adding Machine Company after the inventor . Burroughs died in 1898. Burroughs became the largest manufacturer of adding machines in the USA , and typewriters and calculators were also manufactured in the 1950s .

In 1953, the Burroughs Adding Machine Company was renamed the Burroughs Corporation and began manufacturing computers for banks in Pasadena , California after the purchase of ElectroData . The first product was the computer B205 Tube . Burroughs had branches around the world, Burroughs GmbH in Germany.

Posting and billing machines were developed on the basis of the mechanical calculating machines in connection with electronic circuits, which found their way into many banks as document processing and document processing machines under the name "Sensimatic". The magnetic account booking machines were a special category.

Burroughs developed three mainframe - computer architectures .

  • The Burroughs Large Systems machines with the B5000 (1961) were basement machines that were programmed in Extended Algol 60 . Their operating system , the Master Control Program (MCP), was programmed in ESPOL (Executive Systems Programming Oriented Language, a minor extension of Algol) about 10 years before Unix was developed . A structured, compilable language with procedures existed for the command interface , which was called WFL (Work Flow Language). The control language for the dialog interface was CANDE ( c ommand and e dit).
  • The Burroughs B2000 ( Medium Systems ) were primarily aimed at the commercial market. They are specially designed to run COBOL programs. This included a unit for arithmetic operations on binary coded decimal numbers ( BCD ) for storage and addressing in the main memory with numbers based on base 10 instead of binary numbers .
  • The Burroughs B1700 ( Small Systems ) were microprogrammed with each process potentially receiving its own virtual machine .

The Burroughs Corporation was always second to IBM in terms of size - albeit not technologically . In the 1960s it was one of the eight important computer companies in the USA (with IBM - the largest, Honeywell , Scientific Data Systems , Control Data Corporation , General Electric , RCA and UNIVAC ). Later, this group was under the name BUNCH ( B urroughs, U NIVAC, N CR, C ontrol Data Corporation, and H known oneywell).

In September 1986 the Burroughs Corporation merged with the Sperry Corporation under the new name Unisys Corporation.


  • The Burroughs Adding and Listing Machine , in: Engineering 83 (1907), pp. 580-582.
  • Ludwig Darmstaedter (ed.): Ludwig Darmstaedter's manual for the history of natural sciences and technology. In chronological representation. Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg GmbH 1908, pp. 1556, 1892.
  • Alois Ristler: Borroughs Adding Machine , in: Deutscher Hausschatz, Volume 26, 1899/1900, No. 46, pp. 858–859. With illustration.
  • F. Erhein: An addition machine , in: Illustrierte Zeitung, No. 2968, 1900, p. 735.
  • EM Horsburgh: Handbook of the Napier Tercentenary Celebration or modern Instruments and Methods of Calculation. Los Angeles, San Francisco 1982 (original edition: Edinburgh 1914), pp. 91–98.
  • Peggy A. Kidwell: The Adding Machine Fraternity at St. Louis: Creating a Center of Innovation, 1880-1920 , in: Annals of the History of Computing, April-June 2000, pp. 4-21.

Individual evidence

  1. Dt. Hausschatz, 1899 (illustration)

Web links

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