Grad, Burt (Burton) oral history : General Electric Years
Grad, Burt, Interviewee; Editor
Marcus, Mike, Interviewer
Computer History Museum
Place of Publication
Burt Grad describes his career at General Electric during the 1950s. After starting on the Manufacturing Training Program in 1949 with assignments in various locations, he went to work in the Large Steam Turbine Department in 1950 where he had production control responsibilities including learning to program and use punch card equipment. He then joined GE’s Production Control Services headquarters function in 1954 where his first assignment was to prepare production control programs for the Univac I at the new GE major appliance factory in Louisville, Kentucky. Following a series of inventory control, scheduling and factory simulation projects, Burt then started the Integrated Systems Project which was targeted at automating the complete information flow in a non-assembly line plant. When the first effort at the 39 Frame Motor plant was discontinued in 1957, the work then continued with a team of 40 people at the Meter plant in Lynn, Massachusetts and incorporated some elements of factory automation with numerically controlled machine tools. Among the ideas developed during this project, Decision Tables turned out to be a very valuable tool to record and then program the logic needed to engineer the parts and assemblies, determine the manufacturing processes to follow and to cover all of the other information functions to carry an order from receipt to product completion and shipment. When GE would not pursue implementing these information integration ideas and would not permit the publication of the findings, Burt decided to leave GE and go to IBM. In the interview, Burt also describes the use of Decision Tables in some detail and talks about GE’s venture into the computer business and why he believes that not only GE, but most of the other competitors to IBM were unsuccessful during the 1960s and 1970s.
39 Frame Motor Department; Coutant, Nelson; Decision Tables; Dickie, H. Ford; Dodge-Romig Tables; General Electric (GE) Dishwasher and Disposal Department; Integrated Systems Project; Inventory Control; Kelly, Jill; production; General Electric (GE) Manufacturing Training Program; General Electric (GE) Meter Department; General Electric (GE) Operations Research; production control; production; Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI); Satterthwaite, Frank; Smiley, Robert; TABSOL; Trimble, George; UNIVAC I