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Oral-History:Erwin Tomash

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About Erwin Tomash

Erwin Tomash was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, and grew up in that state. He graduated from the University of Minnesota with his electrical engineering degree in 1943. After graduating, he went into the U.S. Army Signal Corps, where he worked with radar and was awarded the Bronze Star for his wartime activities. After being demobilized from the war, Tomash spent a brief time with the Naval Ordnance Laboratory and then joined Engineering Research Associates. There he worked on developing electronic computers, including the ERA 1103 or UNIVAC Scientific. In 1956 Tomash joined Telemeter Magnetics, a Los Angeles-based company. Soon he became the company's president and oversaw Telemeter Magnetics' design of core memories for computers. In 1962 he left Telemeter Magnetic, which had been bought by Ampex, and co-founded a new company, Dataproducts Corporation. Dataproducts specialized in computer technology, especially printers, and by 1970 had become the world's leading independent printer manufacturer. Since that time, Dataproducts has successfully competed in the core memory field.

The interview spans Tomash's career, focusing on his years with Telemeter Magnetics and especially with his company Dataproducts. Tomash describes his education and early experiences with radar and radio, and then moves on to discuss his computer work. He explains his reasons for forming Dataproducts, and talks about the challenges and rewards of running one's own company. Tomash provides detailed descriptions of Dataproducts' successes with computer core memories and printers. He also discusses his opinions about the relationships between government and the computer industry, on research and development priorities, on the importance of innovation and long term investment, and on the challenges of financing new products development. The interview concludes with Tomash's views on international trade and future prospects for the computer industry and the world market.

About the Interview

ERWIN TOMASH:An Interview Conducted by William Aspray, Center for the History of Electrical Engineering, 19 June 1993

Interview #164 for the Engineers as Executives Oral History Project, sponsored by the Center for the History of Electrical Engineering, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc., and Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Copyright Statement

This manuscript is being made available for research purposes only. All literary rights in the manuscript, including the right to publish, are reserved to the IEEE History Center. No part of the manuscript may be quoted for publication without the written permission of the Director of IEEE History Center.

Request for permission to quote for publication should be addressed to the IEEE History Center Oral History Program, Rutgers - the State University, 39 Union Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8538 USA. It should include identification of the specific passages to be quoted, anticipated use of the passages, and identification of the user.

It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:
Erwin Tomash, an oral history conducted in 1993 by William Aspray, IEEE History Center, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.


Interviewee: Erwin Tomash
Interviewer: William Aspray
Place: Los Angeles, California
Date: 19 June 1993