Artifact Details


Underwood, Fran (Francis O.) oral history

Catalog Number





This oral history begins with Fran Underwood recounting his childhood in Binghamton, New York where he attended a technical high school with a rigorous technical/mechanical course. He goes on to discuss his years in the Navy’s V5 program, his courses in mechanical and aeronautical engineering at Hobart and Cornell Colleges, and his first job as a tool engineer at a small engineering company in Binghamton. Dissatisfied with the job and his pay, Underwood describes his application to IBM as a tool maker, where his storied career in engineering and machine design took off. He discusses his early work building and testing machines, his desire to become and engineer, and his interest in design. His designs got him a new job with IBM doing machine design, as well as teaching engineering training courses. After a time, he moved up to the Advanced Systems Development Department, where he was free to innovate and create. Underwood goes on to talk about the World Wide Accounting Machine and his own significant involvement with the SPACE Machine. Other important projects that Underwood discusses are the IBM 1401, 1800, and computer aided instruction. Next, Underwood recounts his retirement from IBM and his work designing ski lifts for Cable Transport Engineering [C-Tech]. He also mentions his interest in aerobatics and his Stearman biplane.




Garner, Robert, Interviewer
Nelson, Lauren, Editor
Underwood, Francis, Interviewee


Computer History Museum

Place of Publication

Mountain View, California


36 p.




International Business Machines Corporation (IBM); IBM 1401 Data Processing System (Computer); World Wide Accounting Machine; SPACE [Stored Program Accounting and Calculating Equipment]; Cable Transport Engineering (C-Tech)

Collection Title

Oral history collection

Lot Number