Photo of William Norris

William Norris

  • National Medal of Technology and Innovation
  • Medicine

Advancement of micro electronics and computer technology and creation of one of the Fortune 500 – Control Data Corporation – which has over $5 billion in annual sales and over 50,000 employees.

In 1957, William Norris left his engineering job to found the Control Data Corporation. Under his leadership and vision, CDC grew to become a fierce competitor of IBM– the dominant computer maker at the time. The company thrived by making machines that underpriced and outperformed IBM products.

Under the design leadership of Seymour Cray, CDC designed what would become the CDC 6600, recognized as the world’s first supercomputer. Twenty years later, the corporation posted a peak of $5 billion in annual revenues and had a global workforce of 60,000.

“Sometimes you just have to beat hell out of a problem in order to get on top of it,” Norris was quoted in an interview in 1986. Norris’ vision went beyond just technology. He established plants in impoverished inner-city neighborhoods and remote rural settings to provide much-needed jobs and boost local economies. Norris supports programs to bring new technology to small family farms and businesses.

By Jennifer Santisi