Beautifully engraved specimen certificate from the Burroughs Corporation
. This historic document was printed by the American Banknote Company and has an
ornate border around it with a vignette of an allegorical man sitting in between two globes. This item has the printed signatures of the Company’s President and Secretary.
The Burroughs Corporation was a major American manufacturer of business equipment. The company was founded in 1886 as the American Arithmometer Company, and after the 1986 merger with Sperry Univac was renamed Unisys. The company's history paralleled many of the major developments in computing. At its start it produced mechanical adding machines, and later moved into programmable ledgers and then computers. And while it was one of the largest producers of mainframe computers in the world, Burroughs also produced related equipment as well, including typewriters and printers.
Burroughs was one of the nine major United States computer companies (with IBM, the largest, Honeywell, NCR Corporation, Control Data Corporation (CDC), General Electric (GE), Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), RCA and Sperry Rand (UNIVAC line)) through most of the 1960s. In terms of sales, Burroughs was always a distant second to IBM. In fact, IBM's share of the market at the time was so much larger than all of the others, that this group was often referred to as "IBM and the Seven Dwarfs." By 1972 when GE and RCA were no longer in the mainframe business, the remaining five companies behind IBM became known as the BUNCH, an acronym based on their initials.
At the same time, Burroughs was very much a competitor. Like IBM, Burroughs tried to supply a complete line of products for its customers, including Burroughs-designed printers, disk drives, tape drives, computer printing paper, and even typewriter ribbons.
In the 1950s, Burroughs worked with the Federal Reserve Bank on the development and computer processing of magnetic ink character recognition (MICR) especially for the processing of bank cheques. Burroughs made special MICR/OCR sorter/readers which attached to their medium systems line of computers (2700/3700/4700) and this entrenched the company in the computer side of the banking industry.
Developments and innovations
The Burroughs Corporation developed three highly innovative architectures, based on the design philosophy of "language-directed design". Their machine instruction sets favored one or many high level programming languages, such as ALGOL, COBOL or FORTRAN. All three architectures were considered mainframe class machines:
The Burroughs large systems machines started with the B5000 in 1961. The B5500 came a few years later when large rotating disks replaced drums as the main external memory media. These B5000 Series systems used the world's first virtual memory multi-programming operating system. They were followed by the B6500/B6700 in the later 1960s, the B7700 in the mid 1970s, and the A series in the 1980s. The underlying architecture of these machines is similar and continues today as the Unisys ClearPath MCP line of computers: stack machines designed to be programmed in an extended Algol 60. Their operating systems, called MCP (Master Control Program—the name later borrowed by the screenwriters for Tron), were programmed in ESPOL (Executive Systems Programming Oriented Language, a minor extension of ALGOL), and later in NEWP (with further extensions to ALGOL) almost a decade before Unix. The command interface developed into a compiled structured language with declarations, statements and procedures called WFL (Work Flow Language). Many computer scientists consider these series of computers to be technologically groundbreaking. Stack oriented processors, with 48 bit word length where each word was defined as data or program contributed significantly to a secure operating environment, long before spyware and viruses affected computing. And the modularity of these large systems was also unique: multiple CPUs, multiple memory modules and multiple I/O and Data Comm processors permitted incremental and cost effective growth of system performance and reliability. In industries like banking, where continuous operations was mandatory, Burroughs large systems penetrated most every large bank, including the Federal Reserve Bank. And Burroughs built the backbone switching systems for Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) which sent its first message in 1977. Unisys is still the provider to SWIFT today.
Burroughs produced the B2500 or "medium systems" computers aimed primarily at the business world. The machines were designed to execute COBOL efficiently. This included a BCD (Binary Coded Decimal) based arithmetic unit, storing and addressing the main memory using base 10 numbering instead of binary. The designation for these systems was Burroughs B2500 through B49xx, followed by Unisys V-Series V340 through V560.
Burroughs produced the B1700 or "small systems" computers that were designed to be microprogrammed, with each process potentially getting its own virtual machine designed to be the best match to the programming language chosen for the program being run.
The smallest general-purpose computers were the B700 "microprocessors" which were used both as stand-alone systems and as special-purpose data-communications or disk-subsystem controllers
Burroughs also manufactured an extensive range of accounting machines including both stand-alone systems such as the Sensimatic, L500 and B80, and dedicated terminals including the TC500 and specialised check processing equipment.
In 1982, Burroughs began producing personal computers, the B20 and B25 lines with the Intel 8086/8088 family of 16-bit chips as the processor. These ran the BTOS operating system, which Burroughs licensed from Convergent Technologies. These machines implemented an early Local Area Network to share a hard disk between workgroup users. These microcomputers were later manufactured in Kunming, China for use in China under agreement with Burroughs.
Burroughs collaborated with University of Illinois on a multiprocessor architecture developing the ILLIAC IV computer in the early 1960s. The ILLIAC had up to 128 parallel processors while the B6700 & B7700 only accommodated a total of 7 CPUs and/or IO units (the 8th unit was the memory tester).
Burroughs made military computers, such as the D825 (the "D" prefix signifying it was for defense industrial use), in its Great Valley Laboratory in Paoli, Pennsylvania. The D825 was, according to some scholars, the first true multiprocessor computer. Paoli was also home to the Defense and Space Group Marketing Division.
In 1964 Burroughs had also completed the D830 which was another variation of the D825 designed specifically for real-time applications, such as airline reservations. Burroughs designated it the B8300 after Trans World Airlines (TWA) ordered one in September 1965. A system with three instruction processors was installed at TWA's reservations center in Rockleigh, New Jersey in 1968. The system, which was called George, with an application programmed in JOVIAL, was intended to support some 4000 terminals, but even after a fourth processor was added it couldn't handle the workload. TWA canceled the project in 1970, acquiring one IBM System/360 Model 75, two IBM System/360 model 65s, and IBM's PARS software for its reservations system. TWA sued Burroughs for non-fulfillment of the contract, but Burroughs counter-sued, stating that the basic system did work and that the problems were in TWA's applications software. The two companies reached an out-of-court settlement.
Burroughs developed a half-size version of the D825 called the D82, cutting the word size from 48 to 24 bits and simplifying the computer's instruction set. The D82 could have up to 32,768 words of core memory and continued the use of separate instruction and i/o processors. Burroughs sold a D82 to Air Canada to handle reservations for trips originating in Montreal and Quebec. This design was further refined and made much more compact as the D84 machine which was completed in 1965. A D84 processor/memory unit with 4096 words of memory occupied just 1.4 cubic feet. This system was used successfully in two military projects: field test systems used to check the electronics of the Air Force General Dynamics F-111 Aardvark fighter plane and systems used to control the countdown and launch of the Army's Pershing 1 Pershing 1a missile systems.
In September 1986, Burroughs Corporation merged with Sperry Corporation to form Unisys. For a time, the combined company retained the Burroughs processors as the A- and V-systems lines. However, as the market for large systems shifted from proprietary architectures to common servers, the company eventually dropped the V-Series line, although customers continued to use V-series systems as of 2010. As of 2013 Unisys continues to develop and market the A-Series, now known as ClearPath.
History from Encyberpedia and
stock certificate research service)About Specimen Certificates
Specimen Certificates are actual certificates that have never been issued. They were usually kept by the printers in their permanent archives as their only example of a particular certificate. Sometimes you will see a hand stamp on the certificate that says "Do not remove from file".
Specimens were also used to show prospective clients different types of certificate designs that were available. Specimen certificates are usually much scarcer than issued certificates. In fact, many times they are the only way to get a certificate for a particular company because the issued certificates were redeemed and destroyed. In a few instances, Specimen certificates were made for a company but were never used because a different design was chosen by the company.
These certificates are normally stamped "Specimen" or they have small holes spelling the word specimen. Most of the time they don't have a serial number, or they have a serial number of 00000. This is an exciting sector of the hobby that has grown in popularity over the past several years.