Higher, Faster, Farther: 1970-1996

The Boeing Company ... New Computer Services

To attract new business, Boeing expanded its territory beyond aviation and began marketing the electronic technologies that it had developed over the years and were rapidly evolving into new services.

In 1970, 13 different computing organizations in Boeing, each supporting different operations within the company, were combined as Boeing Computer Services (BCS), an independent subsidiary of the company. Within three years, BCS had six sales offices to market five commercial computer products -- including BCS/Mainstream, a time-sharing computer service used by 148 government and commercial customers.

BCS had computer training centers in Seattle, Wash., and in Detroit, Mich., where customers included Ford Motor Co. employees. The BCS Great Lakes Data Center in Chicago, Ill., served the Midwest manufacturing industry.

During the 1970s, machine control data (MCD) was produced in the Boeing plant in Kent, Wash., using an IBM 360 machine and stored on punched tape. During that time, BCS used the Information Management System (IMS) to program the MCD database. Dedicated telephone lines transmitted data to the computer over local networks to the machine shop tools, so MCD was available to any shop machine. By the late 1970s, Boeing computer specialists had designed a database for machine-tool instructions for airplane parts and version numbers. By 1980, data was transmitted through an internal local area communications network of manufacturing plants. The IMS remained the backbone of the Direct Numerical Control database, with smaller systems holding the data for use by shop machines.

At the same time, BCS integrated office systems at Boeing to complement computer-aided manufacturing and implemented a companywide communications network.

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