Drum vs. Core

Brent Hilpert hilpert at cs.ubc.ca
Sat Jun 30 00:07:55 CDT 2007

Roger Holmes wrote:
> > Core was available by 1952, most of the big machines after this
> > date (on this side
> > of the pond at least) were core based. The IBM 650 was actually one
> > of the smaller
> > machines, at least inasmuch as IBM was already making much larger
> > machines
> > (the 700 series).
> Wasn't core memory very expensive in the beginning? It had to be hand
> assembled, at least in the early days. I think there was a more
> gradual take up than you suggest. Of course the more expensive
> machines which used it first saw a huge speed increase over drum main
> memory.

It's something of a matter of opinion, but from what I've gathered I'd
characterise it as pretty quick.

Promptly after Whirlwind (on which core was developed) was converted from
storage tube to core, some other existing machines were also converted
(IBM 701, NORC). The rest of the 700 series used it, haven't checked into
when UNIVAC took up with it. Core was such a tremendous advantage over
the alternatives any new machines that were going to excel in
performance 'had to' use it.

(Correction: my statement of 1952 above should be 1953.)

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