9 POWER TO THE PEOPLE CHAPTER ONE ative in Velva, North Dakota; George Cornog of KEM Electric; Clarence Welander, Chairman of the statewide association; George Jackson from BEK Telephone Mutual Aid Corporation in Steele; Ransom Knutson from Consolidated Telephone Cooperative in Dickinson and Tom Henderson from Nemont Telephone Cooperative in Scobey. “They had no motive of self-wealth or anything to come from this. They just did it because it was the thing to do,” recounted Ralph Birdsall, Leon’s nephew, who later also became a director at Verendrye, in a tribute to his uncle. The North Dakota statewide spun off EDP as North Central Data Cooperative, and the NCDC Board honored the founders’ “tireless and pioneering efforts.” Meanwhile, in Kentucky, J.K. Smith similarly kept to the cooper- ative way. He was only 21 when he became General Manager of Fleming-Mason Rural Electric Coop and brought electricity to eastern Kentucky. In the 1960s, Smith founded and led the Kentucky statewide, and when the co-ops had trouble borrowing money, he led a process to help create the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation (CFC). He even brought used electrical equipment to Ecuador and set up a rural electric cooperative there. In 1966, he looked to ERMCO, an organization of the statewide associ- ations of Kentucky, Arkansas, and Wisconsin, to organize a regional data processing center for the central United States. The vision of a “total management information center” would succeed only if the resources of many Members could be harnessed. “Expensive computers must be kept busy if we are to realize all possible benefits,” he said. A year later, Central Area Data Processing incorporated in St. Louis to serve 14 states. Cooperatively, they had entered the computer age. Smith’s legacy extends into the high-tech era of NISC today. “You have to antic- ipate the future. You have to be ahead of it,” Smith once said. “Start with people — it’s a people program.” Pioneers in data processing in North Dakota review mainframe information. Left to right: Ed Grange, Holy Cross Electric; George Donaldson, Sheridan Electric; Ransom Knutson, Consolidated Telephone; Maynard Christensen, Dakota Co-op Telephone and Charles Gelsinger, 3 Rivers Telephone.