AN/UYK-3 General Purpose Computer

This computer, called the Outstation Processor Unit, was known to have seen service in Bermuda, Gander and Masset during the 1970's. John Bennett  remembers. "Some USN exchange personnel stated that the UYK-3 was a spin-off of the computer used on the American ballistic missile submarines at that time.  When I arrived at Masset in 1971 the UYK-3 came into service once the new site became operational.  Then I was posted to Gander 1974-77, Masset 1977-83, and Bermuda 1983-87.  The UYK-3 remained in service at these three stations as far as I can remember until approximately 1985 when there was a major system upgrade that replaced these units as well as other associated equipment".
AN/UYK-3 arithmetic unit. Any peripherals such as magnetic tape drives would be housed in their own cabinets. (Photograph courtesy of the Charles Babbage Institute, 
University of Minnesota, Minneapolis).

Howie Harrison provides some additional information on the UYK-3 computer. "The OPU (Outstation Processor Unit) was the RCN's nomenclature for the UYK-3 computer. This computer did all the interfacing for the operational communications (not the administrative) by linking the different positions (Narrow Band and Wide Band) plus all the associated teletype terminals in Operations. The UYK-3 had a very heavy front cover that had to be removed to do any extensive maintenance and a rather narrow maintenance panel on the upper part of the cabinet.  This panel contained operational switches so the computer could be reprogrammed or restarted with the cover in place. If I  remember correctly, the computer was fitted with about 8 kb of memory. This was later doubled to 16 kb by adding a second similar computer to work in conjunction with the first one. This extended memory computer, like its main unit, was ruggedized for shipborne use and was extremely heavy and bulky and weighed over a couple hundred pounds. It went into operation in March 1974.  I remember being involved in that installation in Bermuda since it was done by two reps from Bunker Ramo, California".

The AN/UYK-3 has commercial equivalence to the Bunker Ramo BR 133 computer [1] released to the market in August 1964 [2]. The most significant difference between this computer and the TRW-130 (AN/UYK-1) is that all internal operation times have been reduced by a factor of three, yet complete program  compatibility with the TRW-130 has been maintained. It would appear that the TRW-133 was redesignated the BR 133 when production started under the Bunker Ramo name.

There were at least seven volumes in the technical manual set for this computer based on two surviving covers in the possession of Howie Harrison.. The first one is marked "Technical Manual for Digital Data Computer CP-771(V)/UYK-3(V) (The Bunker-Ramo Corporation) Volume 1" with a supplemental title of  "NAVSHIIPS 0967-225-4010 Volume 1".  Number 7 is marked as  "Technical Manual Volume VII  NAVSHIPS 0967-225-4070".  Each cover is marked with  "Department of the Navy, Bureau of Ships" at the bottom.

It is believed at CP-771 means Control Program 771, the machine's operating system.

Brian Edwards developed a UYK-3 maintenance plan for the Royal Australian Navy in the late 1960's.  "From what I remember, the computer used a 15 bit word length.  Data I/O was done via a Kleinschmidt  printer and tape reader. Each register consisted of thirteen PCBs. (i.e. one PCB per bit)".

The AN/UYK-1, predecessor to the UYK-3, had one unique design objective and that was its physical dimensions. It had to be able to pass through the hatch of a submarine. It has not been confirmed if the UYK-3 shared the same attribute but the dimensions of both arithmetic units certainly appear to be similar.

A hand written note found on a manual cover at The University of Minnesota says "the BR-133 was a real jewel".


* Logic elements: ( ie registers, gates etc): Discrete transistor circuitry.
* Number range:  l0o to 1099
* Internal number system: Binary coded decimal.
* Operation: 15 bit word elements at a 1 MHz clock rate.
* Word Length: Variable from 15 to 30 to 45 bits.
* Instruction Set: : 82 microcommands; direct and indirect address supported.
* Memory: Magnetic core, random-access 8,192 words or 16,384 15-bit (plus parity), expandable to 32, 768 words externally; 2 microsecond (µs)  read-write cycle.

* Instruction execute times: Add -  4  µs
                                          Multiply -  19 µs
                                          Divide - 19 µs
                                          Match, Move or Sort - 6 µs  plus 4 µs per 15 bit word
                                          Branch - 4 or 6 µs

* Input/Output Rates

Cables A and B:
    Maximum 30 bit parallel. 250 kilowords/second on input.
    Maximum 143 kilowords/second on output

Cable C:
    Maximum 15 bit parallel. 52.6 kilowords/second on input
    Maximum 55.5 kilowords/second on output

Volume Section Section Title
I I General Description
II Functional Description
II III Installation
IV Operation 
V Maintenance
III VI Replaceable Parts List
IV -- Wire List By Signal Name
V -- Wire List By Element Name
VI -- Wire List By From Connector
VII -- Appendices - Programming and Diagnostics

This module illustrates discreet transistor circuitry which was typically found in computers of the 1960's era. Making circuit boards this small greatly assisted troubleshooting and repair at the expense of a complex wiring backplane which had to interconnect all these small circuit boards. This 'W500'  module is 5 inches wide by 2.5 inches in height. Its function was a high impedance follower and could be found in some Digital Equipment Corp (DEC) computers.  DEC called all their 5" x 2.5" modules 'Flip Chip' .  Contrast this discrete component module to Intel's Itanium PC chip in which 1.7 billion transistors are etched unto a substrate (base) around the size of a thumbnail.  (Photo by Jerry Proc)

Jerry Proc and
CTRC Donald J. Wagner, USN (Ret.)

Bunker Ramo was the company who manufactured the AN/UYK-3 based on its BR-133 commercial computer design. But how did the Bunker Ramo name evolve?  Behind the inception of this computer, there is a unique history peppered with many prominent personalities and enterprises. Although there are many details which can be told and some which can lead us astray, every effort is made to stay focused on the development and creation of the AN/UYK-3 computer. However, at one point even sand, gravel and aggregates manage to sift their way into the picture.

This computer was designed in an era when the electronics industry was making the gradual move from vacuum tube to transistor technology. Also during this period, the United States Government  was purchasing everything from radar, ICBMs, aircraft,  guidance systems, ships, space vehicles, weaponry and data processing equipment. It was the corporate dogma of the time to diversify and capitalize on this vast government expenditure.

Our story begins in the 19th century. On March 29th of 1853, a boy by the name of Elihu Thomson was born in England. Elihu's intellect and personality would lead him through the realms of many types of electrical systems and association with some of the world’s leading figures, institutions, and corporations in science, engineering and technology. In 1882, Professor Thomson started to work at the American Electric Company. Together with  fellow electrical instructor, Edwin Houston he formed  the Thomson-Houston Electric Company Eventually, Mr. Thomson took over American Electric.

In 1888, Thomson formed his second company, the Thomson Electric Welding Co. It is  not known if Edwin Houston was involved in any of these ventures.  By 1892, Thomson-Houston Co. merged with Edison Electric Co and became General  Electric. Thirteen years later, Alexander Winton and his Winton Motor Carriage Co. acquired Thomson's  Electric Welding Co. along with the Cleveland Cap Screw Co. Here is where we drop Elihu Thomson altogether, because no information can be located about him after the acquisition of his company.

Charles E. Thompson  (not to be confused with Professor Thomson), was a welder working for the Winton Motor Carriage Company. Alexander Winton installed Charles as general manager of the company.  (Whether this happened before or after acquiring Thomson Electric Welding and Cleveland Cap Screw company is  unknown). The name of Charles Thompson will reappear as a prominent figure later in the text.

 In 1908, the name of Winton Motor Carriage Company was changed to Electric Welding Company. Mr. Thompson eventually took over the Electric Welding Company in 1915. The name of Winton will be dropped at this point in the story since it leads us into the automotive field instead of the electrical field. After the takeover of Electric Welding Company by Mr. Thompson, the company was first incorporated as Steel Products  then later, in 1926, as Thompson Products Inc. At this point, Thompson Products, Inc. will temporarily be placed in the background so the path doesn't lead us astray into automotive and aircraft engine parts. Hopefully everyone is still following up to this point.

Now, let's fast forward to the start of the Cold War and pick up on the career of a brilliant engineer, Dr. Simon Ramo. He  had just accepted a position with the (Howard) Hughes Aircraft Company, which was in the process of developing communications systems, radar, weapons, ICBMs, aircraft, fire control, computers and aircraft electronics. At this point, we should ignore everything except computers.

Dr. Ramo had spent 10 years at General Electric before joining the Hughes company, which also included Toolco, the parent company that Hughes had inherited from his father in 1923. While employed at Hughes Aircraft, Dr. Ramo became associated with a fellow engineer, Dr. Dean E. Wooldridge. By 1953, both Ramo and the US Air Force had became increasingly frustrated with management problems at Hughes. Ramo and Wooldridge were particularly concerned when Howard Hughes avoided their attempts to discuss the problem. In September they jointly resigned, and within a week they formed the  Ramo-Wooldridge Corporation on September 16, 1953 with Dr. Wooldridge as President and Dr. Ramo as Executive Vice President. Additionally, both were sitting on the committee of the Strategic Missiles Evaluation Group (informally, the “Teapot Committee”) and their new corporation was providing administrative support to the Group. We will now drop  references to space vehicles, satellite or missile technology, and once again attempt to stay focused on computers.

In October of 1958, the former junior partner and chief financial backer, Charles Thompson and his corporation Thompson Products merged with the Ramo-Wooldridge Corporation. This combination resulted in the creation of Thompson Ramo Wooldridge,, Inc. (TRW) and the company becomes the first to develop an unmanned, exploratory spacecraft. We know that the Thompson Ramo Wooldridge conglomerate was still engaged in computer engineering in 1959 since  the Thompson Ramo Wooldridge company introduced the first fully transistor computer -  the RW300 digital process control computer in that year. Additionally, Thompson Ramo Wooldridge formed joint ventures in the United Kingdom, Japan and France to manufacture and promote their RW-400 computer and other models abroad.

Let us park the Thompson Ramo Wooldridge company for now and go back to the year 1952. We would like
to introduce the next major personality. Enter Mr. George M. Bunker, who had just been installed as president of the (Glenn L.) Martin Aircraft Company. Mr. Bunker began shifting the Martin Company into aerospace and electronics technologies immediately.  In 1961, as president of Martin Aircraft, Bunker engineered a merger with American- Marietta Co. The resulting diversification added  such commodities as paint, cement, building materials and aggregates to their existing product lines. Thus, the Martin-Marietta Corporation was created. As chief executive of Martin-Marietta, Bunker attempted to forge a merger with Sperry Rand, but that company was not interested in joining forces.

Dr. Ramo and George Bunker of Martin-Marietta had crossed paths in October of 1963 and the two of them decided on a joint-venture separate from their respective corporations. After details of the venture were worked out, a brand spanking new corporation flowered in the business arena  - the Bunker Ramo Corporation. Computer engineering, research, development and manufacturing previously performed by the Thompson Ramo Wooldridge Corporation was shifted into the Bunker-Ramo corporate structure and, almost without pause, the BR-133 (AN/UYK-3) digital computer was designed and delivered to industry and to the military. The story behind the computer ends here, but what happened to Bunker Ramo, Martin Marietta and TRW in later years?

Bunker Ramo's corporate logo  (Graphic provided by Roger Cote)

Bunker-Ramo would go on to produce video display terminals/systems and supply financial data and networks to the stock market and the banking industry. The company was acquired by the Allied Corporation in 1981, (later renamed to Allied Signal), which is now part of the Honeywell-Bull consortium of companies.

In the mid 1990s, Martin-Marietta merged their aerospace division (Titan missiles) with Lockheed Aircraft to become Lockheed Martin. This new company  is also building ships for the USN besides having a lock on the aerospace contracts for the USAF and NASA. At the present time, Martin-Marietta is now solely in the sand and gravel business.

From the 1960s to the mid-1980s, TRW focused on acquiring businesses with long-term strategic growth potential. In 1986, responding to structural changes in its worldwide markets, TRW divested 13 percent of its sales and repurchased 22 percent of its outstanding shares in order to concentrate on its automotive, space and defense, and information systems businesses. By 1989, TRWs commercial electronics and energy-related businesses, and some minor automotive product lines, had been sold.

In December 1996, TRW announced an alliance with Magna International to design, develop, and produce total vehicle safety systems, and create a joint technical center. TRW eventually acquired all of Magna's steering wheel and air bag businesses. Automotive parts is the current focus of the company.  TRW was acquired by Northrop Grumman Corporation on 11 December 2002 . In 2006, TRW operates under the name TRW Automotive and is based in Cleveland Ohio. It ranks among the world's top 10 largest and most diversified suppliers of automotive systems, modules and components to global vehicle manufacturers and related aftermarkets. The company's 2004 sales were $12 billion.


bermuda_ramo_photo.jpg Simon Ramo was born May 13 1913,  in Salt Lake City, Utah, the son of Lithuanian immigrants who ran a small store. He entered the University of Utah at the age of 16, and earned a B.S. in Electrical Engineering. By 1936, at the age of twenty-three, he had earned dual PhD degrees from Caltech in Physics and Electrical Engineering.

From 1936 until 1946 he led electronics research at General Electric. He became globally recognized as a leader in microwave research and headed the development of GE’s electron microscope. He also published textbooks such as Fields and Waves in Modern Radio (1944) and Introduction to Microwaves (1945). By the end of World War II, he held twenty-five patents in electronics.

In 1946 he returned to California to become director of research for the electronics department of Hughes Aircraft. There, his career became coupled with that of Dean Wooldridge. Together they formed an incredibly successful team for many years, with Wooldridge concentrating on investment and general business aspects while Ramo led research, development and engineering efforts. By 1948, Hughes had created its Aerospace Group to work with the also newly created U.S. Air Force. Dr. Ramo became a Vice-President and the Group’s Director of Operations. Ramo employed his skills in Systems Engineering to allow Hughes to deliver integrated RADAR and aircraft fire-control systems and the Falcon air-to-air missile.

Ramo-Wooldridge became the lead contractor for the US Air Force ballistic missile program. USAF General Bernard Schreiver, head of the ICBM program, described Ramo as "The architect of the Thor, Atlas, and Titan" rockets.

In 1958, Ramo-Wooldridge merged with Thompson Products to become TRW, and Simon Ramo became Vice-Chairman. Later TRW would be renamed TRW Inc and Ramo would become he first president of its subsidiary, Space Technology Laboratories. One example of TRW's success in the aerospace industry was the launch of the Pioneer 1 satellite in 1958, part of  NASA's first step into space. After that, TRW built nearly 200 spacecraft. In a later venture, he joined forces with George Bunker to form the Bunker Ramo Corporation.

In the course of a long and successful career Dr. Ramo has received numerous awards and fellowships and has  authored dozens of books on topics ranging from science textbooks, corporate and technology management, society's relation to technology, economy, and how to play tennis.

Ramo, estimates he has attended over forty thousand meetings in his lifetime—roughly 10 years of his life spent in meetings with corporate directors, employees, symphony boards, university trustees, local little leagues, government advisory panels, philanthropic foundations—thirty thousand of which, he has concluded, could have been shorter with more useful results.

Dr. Ramo is retired and lives in Beverly Hills, California.


[1] The commercial equivalency was located within an archive finding aid at the Charles Baggage Institute, University of Minnesota. . The citation reads (in part):
THOMPSON RAMO WOOLDRIDGE (TRW) (see also Davis Papers)
AN/UYK-1 (TRW 130) (Box 216)
AN/UYK-3 (BR 133) (Box 216)

[2] The date was derived from  Old Computers Listing

Credits and References:

1) Howie Harrison,  <hcharrison(at)>
2) John Bennett <djben(at)>
3) Mike Bostwick <mjbostwick(at)>
4) Global Security web page
5) Brian Edwards <briedw02(at)>
6) Don Wagner <navwags(at)> Infor about George M Bunker
7) TRW info -,1005,1_516%5E2%5E516%5E516,00.html
8) TRW info
9) Simon Ramo  Bio
10) Simon Ramo Bio
11) Simon Ramo
12) Simon Ramo photo courtesy
13) TRW133 info
14) "In War and Peace: My Life in Science & Technology" (Dr. Ramo)
      Author: Guy Stever. Publisher: Joseph Henry Press   2002
15) Book:  "TRW: Pioneering Technology and Innovation Since 1900". Author: Davis Dyer
      Publisher: Harvard Business School Press 1998
16) Technology Review Journal : "Technological Highlights from TRW's First 100 Years"
       Millennium Issue - Fall/Winter 2000
17) Magazine: Time - Article - Issue: 20 June 1960 "Trouble Shooting Missileman" (George M. Bunker)
18) WWW: "Redstone and Atlas (missiles)" note: #68
19) WWW:  "Air Force Space and Missile Pioneers" (Dr. Simon Ramo)
20) WWW: "History of Manufacturers: December 28, 1900 entry (TRW)
21) WWW:  "Centennial of Flight" (Howard Hughes Aircraft Company)
22) WWW:  Lemelson - MIT Program "Inventor of Week Archives"
23) WWW: http://www. "Swampscott History" (Prof. Elihu Thomson)
24) Bunher Ramo Logo via Roger Cote <roger.cote(at)>

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Sept 25/06