Letter from William C. Norris, Chairman of
Control Data Corporation to Congressman
Richard T. Hanna, 1973.
Control Data Corp.
Minneapolis, Minn., December 19, 1973.
Hon. Richard T. Hanna,
Rayburn House Office Building,
Washington, D. C.
My Dear Congressman Hanna: On Wednesday, December 5, 1973, testimony was given before the Subcommittee on International Cooperation in Science and Space of the House Science & Astronautics Committee by Mr. Benjamin Schemmer, Editor, Armed Forces Journal International. This testimony included the statement that Control Data Corporation had advanced the status of Soviet Computer technology by fifteen years with the sale of a Control Data 6200 computer.
Such a statement regarding transfer of technology to the USSR is simply not factual and we are prepared to correct that misstatement as well as other incorrect and misleading references to Control Data's activities with the USSR at the pleasure of your Committee. Meanwhile we respectfully request the consideration of the following.
We have offered to the Socialist countries only standard commercial computers, and these offerings have been in full compliance with the export control and administrative directives of the Department of Commerce.
The statement regarding a proposed sale of the CYBER computer is thoroughly confused. CYBER is a generic name denoting a line of computers. The least powerful model is the Control Data 6200 which is installed at the Dubna Nuclear Research facility near Moscow. Another is the CYBER 76 which is the most powerful and appears to be the model Mr. Schemmer is referencing. At the appropriate time we will seek advisory opinions and submit to the government export license requests for approval for applications in such areas as weather forecasting, simulation in the Worldwide Weather Watch Program, in econometric modeling and in education. Competition from West Europe and Japan will be expected to address these applications with the same kind of technologies that we offer.
Many persons, including some of the witnesses before your Committee, mistake the offering for sale of old or even current state of the art hardware for transfer of advanced technology. This is not unusual because in many cases it is difficult for those who are not technically well-informed to distingush advanced computer technology. Attempting to treat such a broad and complex subject in an informative and accurate manner in a brief statement results in inaccurate, unsubstantiated and misinterpreted inferences and conclusions. For example, it is possible that a computer with a slower arithmetic/logic unit and a very large memory may represent more "advanced" technology when measured by the size of the problem to be solved than a faster machine with less memory. Also, many minicomputers contain circuit technology more advanced than that of more powerful computers. For this reason it is not possible to properly respond to Mr. Schemmer's remarks in a short letter, however the following are examples of those which need to be carefully examined before conclusions are reached.
All countries including the Socialists have a substantial base of computer hardware technology on which to build further advances in the state of the art. The major strength of the U.S. in computer technology is its ability to market superior cost/performance computer systems for a wide range of applications. This does not mean that for any given application or group of applications, another country cannot build the equivalent as far as performance is concerned or even exceed what the United States has available. Also, there is no evidence to my knowledge that the USSR has ever been prevented from carrying out a military project because of the lack of adequate computer technology.
Further advances in hardware are less significant than are software advances for applying computers. We believe that the United States stands to gain significantly from transfer of Soviet knowledge in the basic sciences. The USSR has many more scientists and engineers than do we, and the better ones in Russia have concentrated on the theoretical fields, such as physics, chemistry and mathematics -- the latter discipline being of particular value in the design of logic and software in the computer field.
We respectfully request that your Committee review the above points and consider incorporating them into the record. We would be pleased to have the privilege of appearing before your Committee to give you our more detailed views on these potential relationships with the Socialist countries and in stating our reasons in support of Administration and Congressional trade initatives and objectives.
William C. Norris,
Chairman of the Board