18 THE POWER OF POSSIBILITY NISC | 50 YEARS OF INNOVATION AND MEMBER SERVICE upgraded to a newer Burroughs mainframe and added a microfilming service for Member records. Co-ops could buy a new terminal to connect to the mainframe and transmit data more quickly. CADP upgraded to a new mainframe in 1970, one with 10 times more memory than its initial IBM 360. A year later, some Member sites began using Sycor terminals to transmit data, giving them some modest computing power (with cassette tapes or 8-inch floppy disk drives, which were a big improvement over paper tape). Struggling to finance the upgrades, CADP reached out to the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation (CFC), a cooperative lender spearheaded by CADP incorporator J.K. Smith. “I never did question [if CADP] would make it, but it was also more difficult than I think we thought it would be,” Lloyd McCormick, a CADP founder and Board member, recalled years later. NCDC also faced challenges. In 1978, a group of employees, unhappy about a lack of raises, promotions and computer upgrades, took steps toward forming a union. Twenty-nine of the 40 employees signed and sent a letter to the Board of Directors and all Members demanding the resignation of the general manager, and they walked out indicating they’d resign if their demands weren’t met. One later rescinded his signature and came back to work, but the Board stood by the general manager and accepted the notice as the resignation of the others. The remaining 11 managers and employees worked 12-hour shifts to keep things going. “Naturally, the Members were nervous and didn’t know if we would survive, and neither did we,” says Duaine Ternes, who retired in 2013 as a Sr. Industry Consultant after 42 years with NCDC and NISC. “That would have been a perfect time for [Members] to leave. They didn’t. They stuck with us.” Eight months later, the Board named a new General Manager, Ray Clouse, then NCDC Services Representative. Some employees eventually reapplied for their jobs and were rehired. NCDC rebuilt its staff and moved forward. Across the country, early information technology companies were like shape-shifters — merging, diversifying, collapsing, re-creating. How did NISC’s predecessor companies withstand the volatility? They could always count on the loyalty of their Members. NCDC spent more than a decade in space it rented in Mandan from the North Dakota associations of rural electric and telephone cooperatives (known as “statewides”). It desperately needed to expand, so in 1982, General Manager “It was pretty exciting to see those first bills roll out. We had a little celebration and all went home for some sleep.” — LARRY ESTAL NATIONAL INFORMATION SOLUTIONS COOPERATIVE