of the Modern Computer Series
Jack Kilby and Robert Noyce - Integrated
the 1950s, researchers at the Stanford Research Institute invented
"ERMA", the Electronic Recording Method of Accounting computer
processing system. ERMA began as a project for the Bank of America in an
effort to computerize the banking industry. ERMA computerized the manual
processing of checks and account management and automatically updated and
posted checking accounts. Stanford Research Institute also
invented MICR (magnetic ink character recognition) as part of ERMA. MICR
allowed computers to read special numbers at the bottom of checks that allowed
computerized tracking and accounting of check transactions.
ERMA was first demonstrated to the public in
1955 (September), and first tested on real banking accounts in the fall of
1956. Production models (ERMA Mark II) of the ERMA computer were built by General Electric.
Thirty-two units were delivered to the Bank of America in 1959 for full-time
use as the bank's accounting computer and check handling system. ERMA computers were used
into the 1970s.
According to Stanford Research Institute's
The forty-year-old project [ERMA], provided
a vision of what business could expect from the application of
data-processing machines, and illustrates how and why some of the key
capabilities were invented, including bookkeeping, checks with pre-printed
account numbers, optical character recognition (OCR or scanning), and
robotic document sorting (ten checks per second). The automated teller
machine (ATM) is the natural descendant of this
work, and illustrates the progression away from paper checks toward all
ERMA Mark II was designed around
solid-state logic elements (i.e. transistors)
core memory. Numeric data input was read automatically from the original
documents using the MICR method. SRI contributed to General Electric's
development effort with consultation on character reading and paper-handling
techniques and assistance with the detailed programming of the operational
steps to be followed by the new equipment.
The Stanford Research Institute researchers
behind ERMA and/or MICR were: Jerre Noe, Byron Bennett, C. Bruce Clark, Bonnar
"Bart" Cox, Jack Goldberg, Fred Kamphoefner, Philip E. Merritt and
Oliver W. Whitby, and others.
Chapter > Jack
Kilby and Robert Noyce - The History of the Integrated Circuit
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