Homebrew Drum Computer (magnetic heads)

Gary Oliver go at ao.com
Fri Dec 14 14:22:15 CST 2007

Well, I'm glad to be set straight. I am probably melding a description
from some other device, since I worked with a few other drum/disk
machines about that time. I do distinctly remember having a manual from
that time that described that procedure - always seemed strange to me,
but the document did make rounds at our computer lab group at Oregon
State. It may have been for a small fixed-head disk, rather than a drum,
but the point was that it was possible.

It WAS about 30 years go :-)

I have a reference somewhere for a drum project from the 40s that used
what would now be simple machine-shop procedures (assuming one had a
small drill-mill and lathe) to fashion a small drum of a few k-bit
capacity. I'll try to dig that out and send it along. I was sort of
planning to do something along this line myself at some point during
"retirement" (which won't be for a few years, I suspect.) I've acquired
a few of the components for fabricating the drum and will give it a
"whirl" some day. I was definitely NOT planning to make a flying head
device and to keep it simple enough I could fabricate a few heads from
"first principles."


Mike Loewen wrote:
> On Fri, 14 Dec 2007, Gary Oliver wrote:
>> I didn't quite get to play with one, but I did have the r/w head from a
>> SAGE computer after it was decommissioned at a base near here in
>> Corvallis Oregon in the late 60s (if I recall correctly.) I *did* read
>> one of the maintenance manuals, though, and it suggested strongly it was
>> not a flying head device. I seem to recall the drum was nickel plated
>> (rather hard) and the adjustment procedure was something like "turn the
>> screw to advance the head to the drum surface until you hear a squeal,
>> then back it off a bit." The heads were rather simple devices with a
>> single screw that drove the head to/from the media surface.

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