Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Burroughs Plant Plymouth

Every so often there are times where I feel like my history is intertwined with Michigan history. Although I've never been inside this particular building, my dad used to be an onsite repair person for Burroughs/Unisys and he used to take me into work with him every so often. In some ways, I feel like I grew up with various Burroughs Machines.
This particular plant was the Burroughs Adding Machine Plant and it is on Haggerty Road in Plymouth, Michigan. It was designed by Albert Kahn in 1938, which is a name that figures fairly prominently on this site. There used to be a large smokestack that had "Burroughs" down the side but that was taken down at some point in the recent past.
Burroughs started in 1886 as the American Arithometer Company in St. Louis, Missouri to produce and sell an adding machine that was developed by William S. Burroughs. The name was changed to Burroughs Adding Maching Company in 1904, when the company moved to Detroit.
Soon Burroughs was developing better and more adding machines. Their most revolutionary was one that could do various business functions called the Sensimatic.
In 1953, the company changed its name to Burroughs Corporation and started to sell computers.
Unfortunately, Burroughs could never quite catch up to IBM and in 1986, it merged with Sperry and was renamed to Unisys.
Burroughs did have a number of inovations in computing and supposedly the Pentium is based on the architecture of some of their machines from the 70's. I believe this was the same Burroughs 7800 that I used to play Star Trek on.
This particular division has come full circle as it is called Burroughs again.

4 comments:

Unknown said...

Wow, thanks for this! My Dad, Roy Phelan, worked at this plant from 1958 through 1969. I think he was Manager of Engineering when he left. I was a kid then growing up....playing little league across the streets (or approximately across the street). Great memories of going inside the building with him and being in awe of what they did there. Funny, seemed like an old building to me even in the 60's.

Unknown said...

Awesome Albert

Elizabeth Barsham said...

Hi - I question your statement that this building was designed in 1938. I have four photographs of it taken in August 1938; it was very definitely complete and in production when my photographs were taken by the manager of the Burroughs Adding Machine Co, Wellington, New Zealand who spent a week working there while on a world tour between March and September 1938. I am in the process of scanning and posting on line more than 800 photographs he took on this trip, including the Burroughs factory ones (complete with smokestack). They're due to be posted on 21 December 2017 on https://touringwithroza.wordpress.com/ (The Travel Diaries of Edward Wallace 1938)
cheers,
Elizabeth

Unknown said...

I worked at Burroughs for a few years in the late 1970's. Was my first corporate job out of college. Good memories.