Did You Know?
August 2008


Did You Know?
by Ken Carr
August 2008

               
               
DID YOU KNOW…

                ...that one of NCR’s executives owned one of the most luxurious yachts of its day.  More on the story of yacht later. This gentleman, who was with NCR three different times, graduated college in 1897 and began his career with the Thresher Company in Dayton, OH at $12 a month.  It just so happened that the Thresher Company shared the Callahan Building at that time with a rapidly growing company by the name of NCR. In 1899, Frank Patterson, John’s brother, who had followed this man’s achievements hired him away from Thresher with an offer of $30 a month.  His job was to complete the electrification of the NCR Factory. He left NCR a couple of years later when he accepted the challenge to build a manufacturing factory for a cereal company.  That job complete, in 1903, John Patterson rehired him as the assistant manger for development.  During this stay with the company, he had the foresight to hire an Ohio State graduate who later would prove to be a rather inventive person, Charles F. Kettering.  With in three years, using this man’s formative work on the project, Kettering had developed a working model of the first electric powered cash register. Over the next few years they perfected the electrification of the cash register as well as working on another electric gadget in their spare time. Kettering left NCR in 1908 to spend full time working on this new non-NCR product at a building referred to as Deeds Barn.  Yes, our executive is Edward A. Deeds.  Mr. Deeds left NCR for a second time in 1915 to devote full time to the new company he and Mr. Kettering had formed to manufacture and market their new product, the electric starter for automobiles. With an order from the Cadillac Company, the Dayton Engineering Laboratories Company (Delco) was born.  During the ensuing years, he was involved in many endeavors including chief of airplane procurement for the Army during WWI, starting an airplane engine company with Orville Wright, redesigning Delco to manufacture airplanes during WWI, and selling Delco to the United Motor Company which was later sold to General Motors.  Mr. Deeds was asked by New York bankers, who held much of the company debt, to take over leadership of NCR to restore shareholders confidence as the country emerged from the Great Depression.  In 1931, he accepted the challenge and for the third time joined NCR, this time as president and the executive with a yacht.

             Mr. Deeds commissioned the building of the yacht at the height of the depression in 1929 at a cost of one million dollars.  It was christened the Lotosland after a Greek mythological creature. The ship was 200 feet long, twice as long as the presidential yacht of the day and required a crew of 30 for full operation.  Each stateroom had its own bathtub and shower and was air conditioned, yes air conditioning in 1929.  All the wood was teak and black walnut and the fireplaces were marble. The music room contained a Steinway piano and a full organ. It was the first private yacht to be outfitted with a seaplane. As president of the struggling NCR, Mr. Deeds had little time to enjoy the ship and with the outbreak of WWII, the Lotosland was purchased by the U. S. Navy in 1940 for $140,000.  It was converted into a patrol boat complete with guns and depth charge racks and commissioned the U. S. Siren. It remained with the Navy until it was taken out of service in 1945. The Dayton History NCR Archive has model of the Lotosland in its collection

            Mr. Deed remained president until 1940 and was honorary chairman until his retirement in 1957. He passed away in 1960 at his beloved home, Moraine Farm, which at the time was owned by NCR just as it is today.

            Everyone who worked with NCR since WWII has heard the story of the code breaking project and the international notoriety it brought to its leader, Joe Desch.  But did you know that Mr. Desch was on his way to writing his name in the NCR history book well before the Bombe. Along with Robert Mumma, Mr. Desch invented the Electronic Accumulator in 1938. This was a giant leap forward in technology.  For the first time a machine counted numbers electronically using vacuum tubes instead of mechanically.  In 1942, a later version, the Electronic Calculator, increased the speed, reduced the number of tubes and could perform addition, subtraction and multiplication.  Before the division function could be added, Mr. Desch was asked to take on the code breaking project. The rest is history.  However, it is safe to say that this research which increased the speed with which data could be manipulated surely helped paved the way for the modern day computers.