System Development Corporation
SDC started in 1955 as the systems engineering group for the SAGE air defense ground system at the RAND Corporation. RAND spun off the group in 1957 as a non-profit organization that provided expertise for the United States military in the design, integration, and testing of large, complex, computer-controlled systems.
SDC became for-profit in 1969. With that change, it began to offer its services to all comers rather than only to the American military.
In 1980, SDC was sold by its board of directors to Burroughs Corporation. In 1986, Burroughs merged with the Sperry Corporation to form Unisys, and SDC was folded into Unisys Defense Systems. In 1991, Unisys Defense Systems was renamed Paramax, a wholly owned subsidiary of Unisys, so that it could be spun off to reduce Unisys debt. In 1995, Unisys sold Paramax to the Loral Corporation, although a small portion of it, containing some projects that had originated in SDC, remained with Unisys. In 1996 Loral sold Paramax to Lockheed Martin. In 1997, the Paramax business unit was separated from Lockheed Martin under the control of Frank Lanza (one of the original founders of Loral), and is now a subsidiary of L-3 Communications.
In the 1960s, SDC developed the timesharing system for the AN/FSQ-32 mainframe computer for Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA). The Q-32 was one of the first systems to support both multiple users and inter-computer communications. Experiments with a dedicated modem connection to the TX-2 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology led to computer communication applications such as e-mail. In the 1960s, SDC also developed the JOVIAL programming language and the Time-Shared Data Management System (TDMS), a relational database management system (RDBMS). Both were commonly used in real-time military systems.
- Claude Baum, The System Builders: The Story of SDC, System Development Corp., Santa Monica, CA, 1981. ISBN 0-916368-02-5.
- Martin Campbell-Kelly, From Airline Reservations to Sonic the Hedgehog. A History of the Software Industry. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 2003. ISBN 0-262-03303-8.
- See Campbell-Kelly, 2003, pp.36-41.
- Defense & Security Intelligence & Analysis: IHS Jane's | IHS. Articles.janes.com. Retrieved on 2014-02-21.
- Records of the System Development Corporation at Charles Babbage Institute, University of Minnesota. Includes a history file with information about the RAND Corporation, the System Development Division, and the System Development Corporation. Contains correspondence, meetings and minutes, symposiums and presentations, product literature, technical literature, reports on systems engineering, systems design, human-computer interaction, and user interfaces, and a subject file.
- Oral history interview with Jules I. Schwartz at Charles Babbage Institute, University of Minnesota. When Rand organized the System Development Corporation, Schwartz went to the new company. Schwartz describes his association with SAGE, his work on timesharing for the AN/FSQ-32 computer, computer networks, and control system projects (including TDMS).
- Oral history interview with Robert M. Fano at Charles Babbage Institute, University of Minnesota. Fano discusses his move to computer science from information theory. Topics include System Development Corporation (SDC) among others.
- System Development Corporation history