Setting up the expanded museum in NJ

We closed our NJ museum last month and we’re re-opening with twice the exhibit space in time for VCF East next month. This past weekend we brought in some big iron: half of our UNIVAC 1219B mainframe, circa 1965; a Cray YMP-EL supercomputer, from 1992; and a StorageTek 9710 Library Storage Module, hailing from 1995.

943964_1225519930799441_7668163154575092564_nThe UNIVAC is the same model used aboard Navy ships for weapons control. Left to right: UNIVAC 1219B computer, a.k.a. Mk.-152 Digital Fire Control Computer, a.k.a. CP-848; UNIVAC 1540 Magnetic Tape, a.k.a. Mk.-19 Digital Data Recorder, a.k.a. RD-294; Ocean Tech Mk.-75 Signal Data Converter; a custom digital switching unit built Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (which donated the whole system); and UNIVAC 1532 I/O console, a.k.a. MK-77 I/O console, a.k.a. OA-7984.

12814301_1225519967466104_6444040024590820906_nThe supercomputer and tape library will be part of an exhibit of “modern history”. The wall behind them will be painted circuit board green and will have pictures of several dozen other recently-obsoleted products, such fax machines, Rolodex, paper maps, handheld game consoles, and so on. A sign across the top will state: “Everything on this wall now fits in your pocket.” We’ll have trace-like lines going from each item along the edges to a modern smartphone in the center.

Not pictured but also recently moved in: a 1956 Bendix G-15 vacuum tube computer, a custom 1958 George Philbrick analog computer originally built for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s mechanical engineering department, and a 1965 IBM 1130.

Coming soon: lots of minicomputers and dozens of microcomputers!

4 comments:

  1. It’s great to keep these old machines alive! In college, we had an IBM 1130. My iPhone is about 3,000 times less expensive, 16,000 times faster, 60,000 times more RAM, and 16,000 times more “disk”. After college, about 1973, I worked at a small company that was still using old IBM 1620’s. I built an audio interface (voice quality, 2 digit ADC, about 6k samples/sec) that could record and play. We set it up to play a pre-recorded audio message when the computer booted, for a while it was saying “Boy, are you dumb!”. We acquired an old Univac model 46 printer (drum printer with thyratrons to fire the print hammers!) and I built a buffered interface between that and the 1620. It could print 600 LPM, which was faster than anything IBM had for the 1620. Later the 1620 was sold, and when it arrived at the destination it didn’t work. I was sent to fix it, and found about 100 wires in the core memory were broken. I removed the core, and spent about 40 hours with tweezers, soldering iron, and microscope repairing all the breaks. For each core plane, I had to unsolder about 100 wires along one side, and open it up, fix the breaks, then close it and reconnect all the wires. (I was lucky, I had previously seen an old IBM service guy repair a 1620 core). Replacement boards for the 1620 were expensive or impossible to find, so we found new transistors to repair the old boards.

  2. My computer club is looking for the data sheet for a 115 Volt 400 Hz relay part number MS-25296-A1 that is part of the power circuit of a Univac 1532 I/O console. Can anyone help?

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