This morning’s local paper featured an article about Control Data Corporation, a major player in the olden days of mainframe computing.
By the late 1970s, [Control Data] had made the Twin Cities one of five U.S.
computer industry centers (a distinction that is now only a memory). By
encouraging entrepreneurship among employees, it spawned dozens of
local spinoff companies, including the supercomputer firm Cray Research
(also now gone). At its peak, CDC had 60,000 employees and about $5
billion in revenue.
This summer, I went and worked in Silicon Valley, to see what a modern day computer industry center was like. It was indeed an exciting environment, full of new companies, people with ideas, and support for those ideas. Contrast that with Minneapolis (a city I very much love), where technology innovation feels particularly limited to a few industries. And yet, Minneapolis/St. Paul ranks as the #1 best metro center for business. Where are the tech startups?
It feels as though Minneapolis is prime for a computing technology resurgence. But I’m not sure what the catalyst of that resurgence will be, or when it will happen.