Carl Hammer (1914-2004) was born in Chicago, Illinois, on May 10, 1914, to Karl and Kaethe Hammer, who had emigrated from Germany in 1912. He was educated in Germany from 1920 and returned to the United States in 1938 after finishing his PhD program in mathematical statistics and probability theory.
Hammer’s first job was at the Beacon Laboratories of Texaco Corporation in New York. From 1943 to 1951, he taught at Columbia University’s Bureau of Applied Social Research. Hammer left New York City for a consulting job at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia where he had an opportunity to work with Grace Murray Hopper, who headed one of two major software departments at Remington-Rand Univac. He also helped I. Edward Block, Donald Haughton, and Donald Hay in founding the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, and served as its treasurer in 1955. When Remington Rand was planning on opening a UNIVAC I Computer Center in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, Hammer interviewed for and got the job as its first director and moved there in 1956. When he returned to the United States in 1957, Hammer took a job with Sylvania Electronic Products in Needham, Massachusetts. Sylvania used a UNIVAC I in support of its defense business, and had a contract to design, develop, and deliver a state of-the-art mobile computer for the US Army Signal Corps to support the distribution of intelligence around the battlefield—known as the Fieldata project. This project used a computer housed in a large trailer, known as MOBIDIC (for mobile digital computer). Hammer created scientific models for MOBIDIC intelligence applications and worked on other Sylvania projects such as the Universal Digital Operational Flight Trainer and the KX3, an encryption device used by government agencies.
After meeting with Univac Washington Vice President Leland E. (Lee) Johnson, Hammer agreed to join Sperry Univac Federal Government Marketing in Washington, D.C., on January 2, 1963, as director of Computer Sciences. He traveled to Univac offices around the globe, to lecture and provide technical advice. He also lectured at the US State Department, the FBI Academy, the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, and other private and public organizations.
Carl Hammer contributed to professional organizations, including the Data Processing Management Association (DPMA), the American Federation of Information Processing Societies (AFIPS), and the National Computer Conference (NCC). He was also instrumental in creating the International Conferences on Computer Communication in 1972 and 1974.
Hammer pioneered the use of computers and provided leadership to numerous professional and industry organizations throughout his career. He passed away on January 24, 2004, in Washington, D.C.
Larson Collection interview