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The AUTODIN Legacy Project

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AUTODIN Prologue
Part 2
Overview of the AUTODIN History TimeLine
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COMLOGNET (Communications Logistics Network) / (Combat Logistics Network)

Because the USAF global operations became more complex, with a corresponding need for faster reaction time for logistics support, a special Air Force planning group convened in 1958 to develop concepts for an automatic computer-controlled data switching system. This system would replace the existing manual and automatic data relay systems.

As a result of this meeting and other sources, a document describing the
functional requirements for the COMLOGNET switching centers was developed.

This document, entitled "operational and Technical Characteristics, Automatic Electronic Switching Centers for USAF Communications Logistics Network", contained various requirements as follows:

  1. High speed system capable of handling narrative, data and graphic
    information in binary signal form.
  2. System with the capability of interchanging traffic with other military
  3. Computer system capable of accepting data from various input/output
    devices, such as: punch card readers, magnetic tape transports, digital
    computer teletypewriter, and paper tape readers.
  4. Computer switching centers capable of providing service to input/output circuits operating at speeds from 75 to 4800 bits per second (BAUD), utilizing full duplex operation.
  5. Accuracy of the switching centers must not allow more than one undetected error for every ten million data characters processed.
  6. Switching centers must be capable of continuous operation with no
    scheduled downtime for maintenance.

As the COMLOGNET system developed, its original function of serving the
logistics activities of the Air Force was expanded to include all Air Force
DATA communications. Thus, COMLOGNET was re-designated AFDATACOM.

AFDATACOM (Air Force Data Communications)

The Western Union Telegraph Company (WUTELCO) was the prime contractor, with RCA (Radio Corporation of America) being the major subcontractor who provided the computer equipment for COMLOGNET, which was replaced (in name) by AFDATACOM).

In November 1962, the first Automatic Switching Center of the AFDATACOM system was activated at Norton Air Force Base, California. This Automatic Electronic Switching Center (AESC) was capable of processing narrative and other types of information. All of the messages are processed by the computer in the form of electrical impulses (digital).

Activation of the initial five centers proceeded one at a time, and when the last one became operational, the AFDATACOM network became part of the Defense Communications System (DCS). Upon establishment of the Defense Communications Agency (DCA), AFDATACOM was incorporated into DOS as the initial portion of an Automatic Worldwide Department of Defense Digital Network and was renamed AUTODIN (Automatic Digital Network) ASC- Continental United States (CONUS). It appears two names were used for the definition of AUTODIN: Automatic Switching Center or AUTODIN Switching Center (ASC)

The initial plan called for five CONUS (CONtinental United States) Computerized AESC's (ASC’s). The five Sites selected were Norton AFB, San Bernardino, California; McClellan AFB, Sacramento, California; Tinker AFB, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Gentile AFB, Dayton, Ohio and Andrews AFB, Washington D.C., Maryland area. A later expansion in 1965 added Albany, US Navy, Albany, Georgia; Ft Detrick, US Army, Frederick, Maryland; Hancock, US Navy, Syracuse, New York and Wahiawa, US Navy, Wahiawa, Hawaii. Later this was followed by an overseas expansion in Yokota, Japan; Taegu, Korea; Fenegayan, Guam; Croughton, England; Pirmasens, Germany and Coltano, Italy. The overseas ASC Sites were designed, installed and maintained by Philco-Ford, utilizing their 200 Computer line. This brought the AUTODIN System up to a total of fifteen sites. Additional Overseas sites were phased in and out over time.

Department of Defense (DoD) requirements stipulated that the AUTODIN System must be designed to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and maintain an operational efficiency of 99.9% on-line time. In order to meet this requirement the system was designed with total equipment redundancy.

Initially the Continental United States (CONUS) AUTODIN system was supported and maintained by Western Union. Later in the program, in 1986, American Satellite Corporation (Contel ASC) purchased the AUTODIN system from WU. In 1989 GTE (General Telephone and Electronics) and Philco-Ford acquired AUTODIN, with GTE maintaining the stateside Centers and Philco-Ford maintaining the overseas Centers. The AUTODIN system has undergone many upgrades and enhancements throughout its existence up to the present time. The system has passed through three generations of mainframe designs, which included the original discrete transistor circuitry and then integrated circuitry.

In the early phases of CONUS AUTODIN, the W. U. personnel staffing at each AESC (ASC) consisted of a Site Manager, Assistant Site Manager, Maintenance Analyst, several Maintenance Supervisors, an average of fifteen Site Supervisors, twenty-four Computer Center Technicians and a Secretary and parts inventory clerk. The Number of required on-site personnel continued to decrease as future equipment enhancements and upgrades improved equipment reliability. There were Military personnel in charge of the CRYPTO area and Government Civil Service personnel were responsible for all Center operational duties. The overseas center personnel staffing varied from site to site.

Three ASC's remained in operation as of October 1, 2000. These are located at Ft. Detrick, U.S. Army, Frederick, Maryland, Wahiawa, U.S. Navy, Wahiawa, Hawaii and Pirmasens, Germany. The two stateside (CONUS) Sites are maintained by GTE (Hughes) and the German Site was initially maintained by Philco-Ford, followed by GTE and then by SAIC (military), which provides the maintenance at this time.

The following is a general overview illustrating the manner in which data would be processed from one Tributary (A) to another Tributary (B). The tributary communication lines are connected to the Accumulation and Distribution Unit (ADU). The ADU (front end) is connected to the Communication Data Processor (CDP) through a high-speed interface.

Refer to ALP Figure 1-1 for a pictorial overview of data flow. Although Figure 1-1 contains the newer ICCDP the data flow was basically the same as it was in the beginning with the CDP.

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