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John Burgeson papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: 112.7212
The John Burgeson papers contain materials generated by and referring to the development of his baseball simulation computer game, “BBC Program.” Document types include computer printouts of simulations (with annotations), correspondence, publicity materials, and a narrative essay. A series of digital files is also part of this collection; within the digital materials are scanned photographs, audio recordings, video clips, text documents, and compressed program files. Additional scope and content information for each series can be found in the “Contents List” section of this finding aid.

The John Burgeson papers are arranged into five series. The physical materials are housed in one archival document box. Digital files comprise one series, located on the internal network of The Strong.


  • 1947 - 2012
  • Majority of material found within 1960 - 1963


Conditions Governing Access

At this time, some digital files in this collection may be limited to on-site researchers only. It is possible that certain formats may be inaccessible or restricted. Please check with the Library for more information.

Please see The Strong's Digital Games Files Access Policy ext>.

Conditions Governing Use

This collection is open for research use by staff of The Strong and by users of its library and archives. Though the donor has not transferred intellectual property rights (including, but not limited to any copyright, trademark, and associated rights therein) to The Strong, he has given permission for The Strong to make copies in all media for museum, educational, and research purposes.


0.25 Linear Feet (1 box)

314 Megabytes (Digital files) : Accessible on-site at The Strong.


The John Burgeson papers are a compilation of computer printouts of game simulations, notes, correspondence, and an essay related to Burgeson’s baseball-simulation game, “BBC Program.” The bulk of the materials are from between late 1960 and 1963. Digital files are also part of this collection.

Biographical Note

John Burgeson (1931- ) is a former IBM engineer who created the first baseball computer simulation program in 1961.

Burgeson grew up in Youngstown, Ohio, where he and his brother often played baseball-simulation board games while supporting the Cleveland Indians. He received his BS in Physics from the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Burgeson soon earned his MS, also in Physics, from Florida State University. In 1955, he began work as a civil service physicist for the United States government, researching military machinery. Two years later, he began what would turn out to be a 35-year career at International Business Machines Corporation (better known as IBM) in Akron, Ohio. In 1960, Burgeson, programming on the IBM 1620, invented a baseball game simulator. This simulation used true statistics from historical players to mock up a nine-inning baseball game, resulting in computer-generated play-by-play text with a final score. John collaborated with his brother, Paul, on the development of the game.

Burgeson’s baseball simulator game, or “BBC Program,” ended up in the IBM 1620’s software library as the only game among a batch of data processing programs. The BBC Program picked up some publicity in the early 1960s via newspaper articles and a radio show feature hosted by Rege Cordic of KDKA Pittsburgh. The IBM 1620 scientific computer ceased production by 1970; since only about 2,000 units had ever been manufactured, the BBC Program faded into obscurity. Burgeson reminded the world of the simulation program nearly 50 years after its invention when he appended text and images from his computer simulation game into a Wikipedia entry on fantasy baseball.

Burgeson retired from IBM in 1992 and worked as an independent market research consultant for two more years. He and his wife now reside in Texas. Burgeson’s interests include baseball, cars, religion, and his large family.

System of Arrangement

Series I: BBC Program code and selected simulations, 1960-1962

Series II: Correspondence, 1961-1963

Series III: Publicity, 1962-1963

Series IV: Baseball computer games essay, 1990

Series V: Digital files, 1947-2012

Custodial History

The John Burgeson papers were donated to The Strong in December 2012 as a gift of John W. (“Burgy”) Burgeson. The papers, along with a DVD containing various digital files, were accessioned by The Strong under Object ID 112.7212 and received from Burgeson in one box.


Finding Aid to the John Burgeson Papers, 1947-2012
Julia Novakovic
25 June 2014
Description rules
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play at The Strong Repository

The Strong
One Manhattan Square
Rochester NY 14607 USA
585.423.1886 (Fax)