Systems Engineering Laboratories - SEL History

Tom Uban tom at
Fri Nov 6 14:11:50 CST 2020

I worked at Gould CSD in Urbana on the Powernode Unix kernel from '86-'88
and knew the machines were descendants of SEL machines, but that is about
it. The ECL based logic was named "firebreather" for a reason. They were the
fastest thing at the time. Being a computer company in Urbana Illinois, we all
joked about being where the HAL 9000 would eventually be born. It was my
first real job out of college, so I had a blast, right up until the company laid
off a large portion of our office in a single day. I think I still have a t-shirt
which says "Gould lost $300M and all I got was this lousy t-shirt". I wasn't
on the list, but I left shortly thereafter. The people I worked with were all
top notch and I missed them after leaving.


On 11/6/20 1:37 PM, Bob Smith via cctalk wrote:
> My memories of SEL beginnings are dusty. and rusty. I recall a bunch
> of their systems being used in science related efforts, beecause of
> the high IO capability. At the time, for NASA and others, it was the
> ideal platform for data collection.  Not a bad compute capability -
> many other systems in that space could do compute efforts more
> quickly, but the none could match data IO for years. iirc, this was in
> both the 16 and 32 bit lines.
> I alwo recall when some folks from DEC VAX et al efforts left and
> joined SEL - yep there is some back story there.
> bob
> On Thu, Nov 5, 2020 at 2:35 PM Eric Moore via cctalk
> <cctalk at> wrote:
>> Hello, I have pulled together a website with links to resources and
>> information on SEL, or Systems Engineering Laboratories.
>> SEL was a computer manufacturer in the 60s and 70s which later was acquired
>> by Gould and then Encore. They made many major innovations and were
>> instrumental in the success of the Apollo program.
>> The website is still a work in progress, but I did want to share it with
>> yall.
>> -Eric

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