Discussion of large systems
julesrichardsonuk at yahoo.co.uk
Tue Oct 31 02:55:12 CST 2006
Ashley Carder wrote:
>>> Surviving systems from before 1975 are very rare animals, esp mainframes,
>>> since so many of them have been scrapped for precious metals. Sadly, there
>>> is even less software that has survived. CHM didn't start seriously
>>> collecting documentation nor software prior to the move to the West Coast in
>>> the 90's. While they have an impressive collection of hardware, and a pretty
>>> decent collection of US computer documentation now, the software holdings
>>> pre 1975 are minimal.
> How many 1970s era or earlier mainframes are actually up and running
> (or in working condition) somewhere?
Hmm, define 'mainframe' I suppose :-) I mean, we've got the Elliott 803 (umm,
1958 I think) and the Marconi TAC (design was 1959, ours was built 1964 IIRC)
- both of those are in need of some trivial maintenance right now but are
otherwise kept in running condition. But when I think of mainframe I think of
processor + storage along with a bunch of terminals attached; both of those
systems are more data processors (albeit general purpose ones) than something
capable of supporting several human users.
Then we've got the ICL 2966 - I've never managed to get a firm date for that
one, although I believe it's late 1970s. That one's definitely recognisable as
a mainframe :-) I think we have 40 cabinets for it; it's small by ICL
standards, but I think it's probably physically the largest machine in public
hands in the UK. Non-runner at present and needs a lot of work, but getting it
operational again is a firm project; we've got a large spares cache and all
the docs, plus have been talking with various ex-ICL people over the last year
who may be able to help out.
> I have not really followed mainframe
> collecting, although I did work on IBM 370 and 30xx mainframes in the 1980s.
I used to work for a computer repair place back in the early 90s - all small
stuff it was; various home machines and the like. One day the owner got an IBM
370 in though; he'd agreed to clear out a business premises that was closing
and was after all the terminals and standalone machines so that he could sell
them on, but had to take the 370 too.
Annoyingly, he had no clue how to make money out of this big 370 though - it
got offered to me for free if I just hauled it away for him, but of course I
didn't have the contacts that I do now and so I couldn't do anything with it
either. I seem to remember it sitting in the warehouse for a few months, then
the scrapper came in and hauled it off to the crusher :(
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