In 1986, Sperry and Burroughs (another computer maker) merged to form Unisys Corporation. In the period of uncertainty after the merger, managers became reluctant to take chances, including investing in the pursuit of ongoing work at GSFC. Sperry had over 20 years experience under a series of contracts, but the end was in sight. As the expiration of our contract approached, GSFC management decided to combine multiple support contracts under a single umbrella contract. Unisys chose not to compete for the overall contract, and offered to provide our expertise to whichever company won the contract. This strategy resulted in an exodus of programmers, some of whom moved to the company that won the contract. I remained with Unisys, which managed to get a short-lived sub-contract to support NASCOM. After a short time, I was made a supervisor over another contract at GSFC for a few months, while that contract also wound down. By early 1990, plans had been made to close the Unisys office that supported GSFC. At that time, I was receiving three weeks of vacation each year, and the vacation year started on April 1. By combining two years vacation, I could take six weeks for our trip to France.
When I returned from vacation, I was assigned to support marketing. This involved reading requests for proposals, writing sections of proposals, and setting up demos of proposed equipment. For the remainder of my time at Unisys, I worked on 11 proposals; Unisys won just one of these, a terrible record. In January 1995, I was laid off, along with many others. Unisys layoff policy was to grant one week of leave for every year of service, and I had 17 years of service. I was fortunate to find a position relatively quickly, and to start working in May; I had nearly four months of ‘retirement’ before I joined IITRI.
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