Patrick Sneed sent in this picture of a 25-year-old tape cartridge from an IBM 3850 Mass Storage Device. "The tape retrieval device ran on little railroad tracks down the center of the machine," Patrick wrote, "You could open the doors to work on it while it was in use but it could literally take your head off when it passed by."
IBM 3850 Mass Storage Device (2 of 2)
Gene Hirschel sent us this photo of a Digital Equipment Corporation's RP-04, manufactured by Memorex. Gene wrote:
"This is a disk drive, removable platters of storage, each "disk pack" having 20 surfaces. I disassembled this and put it in my dad's station wagon and drove through the Holland Tunnel. In order to get it into my 1 bedroom apartment, I had to take it in the service entrance.
"The heads were positioned with an optical sensor that read glass etchings on a plate. Sometimes, the disk pack on one disk drive would not be readable on another identical drive because of head alignment.
"Eventually, when the cost and size of computer hardware was reduced significantly, the head and disk drives sealed against dust and contaminates, and famous "head crashes" were reduced dramatically. This sealed disk and head assemble was called a "winchester" disk. Eventually that term fell out of favor for the easier to type "Hard Disk." The Winchester name came directly from the famous rifle, as IBM announced a 30 Meg removable over a 30 Meg sealed disk (presumably for backups) and called it a "30-30."
"So, this is a pre-winchester "disk drive" posing next to its distant cousins. It sits now in my office as a conversation piece, and as a REALLY BIG paperweight (at 500 lbs, it's great even in a stiff breeze)."
Joe Gilland found this IBM 5251 Display Station sitting in an old warehouse that our University recently purchased. According to this link at IBM's Web site, the 5251 Display Station unit was marketed as an attachment to the System/34 from April 1977 until February 1985.
Wilf Mandel submitted this great picture of the console of an IBM System/360 Model 75. Wilf wrote:
"The picture was taken in the computer room at McGill University, back in the 1970's. This machine replaced our "old" Model 75, after its retirement from the NASA Apollo program. Cycle time was 750 nanoseconds; it had 512K of core storage.
"We also had 1 megabyte of "Large Core Storage", which had a slower cycle time (such that it couldn't keep up with our ?high speed drum?). It ran OS/360 MVT with HASP (non-virtual operating system). The toggle keys were used to enter data in to core storage (each 8-bit byte had 2 sets of 4 white data keys and a black parity key), and could also be used to enter machine language code.
"That?s right, 512K (vs the 512Meg and up on a PC)! And the memory was made up of those little ferrite rings called ?cores? with read/write/reset wires strung through them. Oh yes, the lights ? you could tell what the machine was doing by looking at them. Impossible on modern mainframes because processing is too fast to have lights keep up.
'It?s mind boggling that a PC?s are now more powerful than this machine that was used in the space program that took us to the moon and back."
Jason Schneiderman sent two pictures of 4000 series VAX machines. According to Jason, this workstation and server is still used by Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in NYC to run PET scanner.
This 4000 series VAX server is sitting in the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine's computer room.
Not the oldest by a long shot, but here's John Goodman's SGI Indigo. John first worked on Indigos in 1992 and reported being "blown away". "Not only was it powerful," John wrote, "[the Indigo was] one of the most appealingly designed computers ever."
John's description of the Indigo: "Very ergonomic and compact, it was one of the premier desktop platforms for serious graphics back then. It's only about twelve or thirteen years old but, when it first came out it was about $60,000 for the model pictured here. (R4400 150mhz, 360mb RAM, ELAN Graphics). Alias or Softimage or similar animation packages were also in the $50K + Range then too. I rescued this one from the dumpster at work and swapped out some parts, bought some RAM and installed IRIX 6.5, which amazingly enough runs great even on this old box. The Elan graphics were especially amazing at the time of its release, there was almost nothing comparable for the desktop. I keep it running to remind me what it was like to work on a $60K computer, since my $2,000 Linux PC runs rings around it now. I even kept some old literature from the year of its release."
Stephen Johnston sent us two pictures of his "old trusty" Sinclair. The machine has 2KB RAM with a 16KB add-on. "Who doesn't love BASIC?" Stephen wrote.
Timex Sinclair 1000 (2 of 2)
David Berman sent two photos of a Unisys box running Unix System V, Release 4. Age, approximately 1992. The system also runs the ADS development environment.
A close-up of the Unisys console
According to John Robson, this IBM 3380 disk storage unit from 1985~2000 came in many models. It has two hard disk arrays, turning at 3600rpm. Each disk array had two indepant voice coil head assemblies, for a total of 4. The capacity of each axcess was about 2gb or 8gb for the whole box. The box weighed about 300 pounds, was 4' wide x 3' deep, and 6' high. Many boxes could be strung together. In a large computer complex there were whole rooms that were only rows and rows of them, giving rise to the term disk farms.
Ken Madison dug this computer out just four our Dinosaur Sightings 3 gallery.
"This was one of my first "computers" back around 1984," Ken wrote, "My first was just a plain ole' Commodore 64. I bought a $200 5 inch floppy drive as a present to myself and later even purchased a tape drive for backup and a modem to get "online"."
Commodore SX-64 with the front cover closed.
Tim Brock submitted this photo of an 8-inch floppy disk with Microsoft Fortran Compiler for CP/M-80 (an O/S prior to MS-DOS).