Massachusetts Computer Associates

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Massachusetts Computer Associates (originally just Computer Associates), also known as COMPASS, was a software company founded by Thomas Edward Cheatham Jr. and based in Wakefield, Massachusetts from approximately 1961 to 1991, focusing primarily on programming language design and implementation, especially source-to-source transformation.[1] It was acquired in the late 1960s by Applied Data Research.

Many well-known computer scientist were employed by, or consulted for, COMPASS at some point in their careers, including Michael J. Fischer, Stephen Warshall, Robert W. Floyd, and Leslie Lamport.[2] Some of the systems they worked on include AMBIT/G[3] and IVTRAN, a Fortran compiler for the ILLIAC IV.[4]

Leslie Lamport wrote his influential "Time, Clocks" paper while he was at COMPASS.[5][2]

The original vectorizing compiler for the ILLIAC IV was written at COMPASS[6] with contributions by Lamport, who worked there part-time.[7]

Robert Floyd's Treesort algorithm was published while Floyd was at COMPASS.[8]

Corporate history[edit]

Applied Data Research (ADR) bought Massachusetts Computer Associates in the late 1960s.[9] ADR was sold to Ameritech in 1986 and then by Ameritech to the (unrelated) Computer Associates of New York.[10] Shortly after ADR was sold to Computer Associates, Compass was in turn sold to SofTech.


  1. ^ David B. Loveman, "Program Improvement by Source-to-Source Transformation", Journal of the ACM 24:1:121–145 (January 1977)
  2. ^ a b "Leslie Lamport Receives Turing Award". Microsoft Research Blog. March 18, 2014.
  3. ^ Carlos Christensen, Michael S. Wolfberg, Michael J. Fischer, "A Report on AMBIT/G", Massachusetts Computer Associates Inc., 1971
  4. ^ Robert E Millstein, "Compiler Design for the ILLIAC IV", Massachusetts Computer Associates Inc., 1973
  5. ^ Lamport, L. (1978). "Time, clocks, and the ordering of events in a distributed system" (PDF). Communications of the ACM . 21 (7): 558–565. doi:10.1145/359545.359563. S2CID 215822405.
  6. ^ "Supercomputer cruises at 80 million operations a second", Popular Science June 1979, p. p. 89
  7. ^ Dennis Shasha, Cathy Lazere, Out of their Minds: The Lives and Discoveries of 15 Great Computer Scientists, p. 125
  8. ^ Robert W. Floyd, "Algorithm 113: Treesort", Communications of the ACM 5:8:434 (August 1962)
  9. ^ Rosemary Hamilton, "Computervision turns believer after Compass helps convert software", Computerworld, July 14, 1986, p. 20
  10. ^ Applied Data Research, Software Products Division Records, 1959-1987, Charles Babbage Institute, University of Minnesota.