Up for Auction: Memory from the First Computer in Space

Brent Hilpert hilpert at cs.ubc.ca
Wed Oct 28 19:10:20 CDT 2015

On 2015-Oct-28, at 4:41 PM, Paul Koning wrote:
>> On Oct 28, 2015, at 7:32 PM, Brent Hilpert <hilpert at cs.ubc.ca> wrote:
>> On 2015-Oct-28, at 2:45 PM, Geoffrey Oltmans wrote:
>>> On Wed, Oct 28, 2015 at 2:31 PM, Paul Koning <paulkoning at comcast.net> wrote:
>>>>> On Oct 28, 2015, at 12:58 PM, feldman.r at comcast.net wrote:
>>>>> A core memory unit from Gemini 3 is up for auction:
>>>> http://www.scientificcomputing.com/news/2015/10/auction-memory-first-computer-space?et_cid=4906629&et_rid=742193094&location=top
>>>> Comical.  "Chip" indeed.  And "first use of core memory ... in an era of
>>>> rotating drum memory" -- in 1965?  I wonder why they have such a clueless
>>>> person write their blurbs.
>>>>      paul
>>> Seems like it's worth is totally dependent on its provenance...how do you
>>> prove that?
>> Not a proof in entirety of the claim, but from a ref and looking at the closeup pics from the auction website, it is an unusual form of core memory where the cores have two holes through them, like a blocky figure 8, apparently an aspect of a technique to achieve non-destructive readout. This is quite unusual and would go some ways to showing a provenance to the Gemini project.
> I didn't realize there is any such thing as non-destructive read core memory.   Google does turn up a few obscure articles about such things.  It doesn't seem to have caught on, and I wonder why it was used here.
> So that phrase actually may be accurate.  But does that clearly tie it to Gemini?  And even if it does, that doesn't amount to provenance as a flight item; it might just as easily have been a spare, or a failed test module, or something similar that never left the ground.
> 	paul

No, it doesn't, without more research  (that's why I qualified the observation with "not a proof in entirety").
I'm just noting:

	- A source describes this type of memory as being used in the Gemini computer.

	- It's a very unusual form of core memory - I had never heard of it before either -
	   so there's not a lot of other equipment for it to have come from.
	   The techique may even only ever have been used in Gemini.

	- The matrix size of 4096 is consistent with that described for Gemini, although that is a common matrix size.

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