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Basil
09-02-2016, 05:09 PM
Some of you know that back in the day, I was a computer maintenance man on the largest computer (physical size) ever built - the IBM Q-7. It was the brains of the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) Air Defense System. As far as I know, I was the only person at the 24th NORAD region to be fully qualified to repair every component of the system (Memory, Main Computer, Input/Output (Tapes, Printers Punches), Displays, Long Range Inputs, and some others I've forgotten). It was the most fun job a 20-something could possibly have. We had two computer systems operating in parallel. While one system was running the active air defense mission, we would be doing preventative maintenance on the other system. Then each nigh at midnight we would "switch" (not a simple process) and to the PM on the other computer. We maintained a 99.999% on-air rate. I only remember one time when both systems crashed at the same time and we had to call in the IBM engineers to try to help us fix it. One of our techs found the problem by accident (a faulty capacitor that was giving very intermittent random voltage spikes).

Anyway, I ran across this page that depicts an early version on the SAGE system with all the inputs the fed it to provide air defense for the country.

>> SAGE (https://www.radomes.org/museum/equip/fsq-7.html) <<

DrEntropy
09-02-2016, 10:41 PM
Okay, so:

4) Technicians would routinely test pluggable units by whapping them with a rubber mallet.

No wonder you have a British car an' run this forum...

This explains a lot. :smirk:

Bayless
09-03-2016, 09:04 AM
I was a Nike radar tech in the Army and it was well known (at least in those days) that all electronic devices had a maintenance "kick plate."

70herald
09-05-2016, 01:08 PM
when i started working in semiconductor micro lithography back in the dark ages, we had an optics based measurement system which we calibrated by banging on the table. any time a measurement was out of spec we just hit the table and re-measured. if that didn't work you just hit the opposite side of the table.
we never had out of spec measurements

Basil
09-05-2016, 01:36 PM
This glass case holds the "little" memory for the IBM-Q7 SAGE computer. Each of the dual computers had 2 memories - Big and Little. Big was a whopping 256k (yes, 1 fourth of one meg). Th little memory seen here is a whopping 10k. The other picture is a snapshot of a piece of little memory core that is in my possession. This would have been one "bit" in the 33 bit computer memory word.

44590

44591

TOC
09-05-2016, 02:15 PM
Core. Hand-wound torroidal coils for "memory".
Had a 4K stack in our Sperry SINS system....about half the size of a shoebox. 4K. Geez.
Main was drum memory, 10K RPM's....blast-proof cast cabinets, bearinged hinges.....on a Submarine, if you got enough of a "blast" to need that, there was nothing left of the boat.
Modified IBM Selectric OUTPUT device...input was pushbuttons on the front panel of the main computer....

NutmegCT
09-05-2016, 02:37 PM
And from 1956, here's one of the first "drum" memory devices, now on display at the Computer History Museum out in Mountain View, California.

https://nutmegflyer.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/img_0245.jpg

Basil
09-05-2016, 03:00 PM
Each of the 2 computers in the SAGE system had 12 such drum devices; slightly different configuration, but same principle - precursor of today's hard drives. I once won $100 in an Air Force suggestion program for devising a better way (safer) to align the heads on these drums. My modification was implemented Air Force wide.

TOC
09-05-2016, 05:15 PM
You have no idea the noises those things could...and did..make when you were at periscope depth in a North Atlantic storm...can you say "gyroscopic precession"?

Bayless
09-06-2016, 11:09 AM
My! How times have changed!

mikephillips
09-06-2016, 12:21 PM
My! How times have changed!

Was thinking the same thing. I started with the 360 series and punch cards years ago and now where I work is moving to the latest Z13 series come the beginning of the year. Almost everything in it will be hot swappable if a fault occurs, and with the redundancy a failed bit won't bring down the box. And personally I have a 128g flash in my pocket smaller than my thumb where I've put all the music I prefer for those days when I'm doing mindless paperwork type activities. But need to go to a 256g as I keep finding new things I want to have so this one is nearly full...

DrEntropy
09-06-2016, 12:45 PM
And personally I have a 128g flash in my pocket smaller than my thumb where I've put all the music I prefer for those days when I'm doing mindless paperwork type activities. But need to go to a 256g as I keep finding new things I want to have so this one is nearly full...

We're now Officially Spoiled Rotten!

Basil
09-06-2016, 12:45 PM
Was thinking the same thing. I started with the 360 series and punch cards years ago and now where I work is moving to the latest Z13 series come the beginning of the year. Almost everything in it will be hot swappable if a fault occurs, and with the redundancy a failed bit won't bring down the box. And personally I have a 128g flash in my pocket smaller than my thumb where I've put all the music I prefer for those days when I'm doing mindless paperwork type activities. But need to go to a 256g as I keep finding new things I want to have so this one is nearly full...


My first hard drive in my first Desk Top computer was 10MB. Today I have two 128GB Micro SD cards (total of 256GB) in my FiiO X5 High Def music player. Each SD card is smaller than my thumbnail. Mind blowing capacity in such a tiny space.

44620

Basil
09-06-2016, 12:47 PM
We're now Officially Spoiled Rotten!

I remember paying over $400 for my second hard drive, a whopping 65MB! No you can get a Terabyte for around $50.

DrEntropy
09-06-2016, 12:52 PM
Fifty Years of Moore's Law (https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/silicon-innovations/moores-law-technology.html)!

PAUL161
09-06-2016, 01:05 PM
In 1991 my first computer had a monster 165 MB hard drive, 5.5 inch floppy drive. Learned a lot about DOS with that thing. Amazing just how far we've come in such a short time. Had to install everything by hand. The processor was so slow I had to buy an adapter/doubler to mount the processor on and speed it up somewhat. I later installed Windows 3.1 and wow what a change, even had pictures and colors! Word perfect with 260 typed in individual commands! Thought it was great at the time. Little did I know what was coming. :rolleyes2:

mikephillips
09-07-2016, 11:45 AM
My first hard drive in my first Desk Top computer was 10MB. Today I have two 128GB Micro SD cards (total of 256GB) in my FiiO X5 High Def music player. Each SD card is smaller than my thumbnail. Mind blowing capacity in such a tiny space.


Yea the actual chip in the flash is about fingernail size, the "container" is a bit smaller than my pinkie but big enough that clumsy fingers can actually use it without manual dexterity issues...

mikephillips
09-07-2016, 11:48 AM
I remember paying over $400 for my second hard drive, a whopping 65MB! No you can get a Terabyte for around $50.

$300 back in high school for my first calculator that did +, -, *, / and square roots. Now days if you see anything like that they're giving them away as "thanks for stopping at my booth" prizes and when the batteries die cheaper to throw away and replace than get a battery.

mikephillips
09-07-2016, 11:52 AM
In 1991 my first computer had a monster 165 MB hard drive, 5.5 inch floppy drive. Learned a lot about DOS with that thing. Amazing just how far we've come in such a short time. Had to install everything by hand. The processor was so slow I had to buy an adapter/doubler to mount the processor on and speed it up somewhat. I later installed Windows 3.1 and wow what a change, even had pictures and colors! Word perfect with 260 typed in individual commands! Thought it was great at the time. Little did I know what was coming. :rolleyes2:

Sounds a lot like my first business desktop. Who would have imagined then tablets no thicker than a tablet of paper that with WiFi would go anywhere and allow streaming as well as business type work. Amazing technology but, I find companies expect the near 24/7 availability possible to be the reality, day or night, workday or vacation.

Basil
09-07-2016, 12:17 PM
$300 back in high school for my first calculator that did +, -, *, / and square roots. Now days if you see anything like that they're giving them away as "thanks for stopping at my booth" prizes and when the batteries die cheaper to throw away and replace than get a battery.

Back in 79' while in Engineering school, I paid over $300 for what was, at the time, an amazing programmable calculator, the Texas Instruments TI-59

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TI-59_/_TI-58

I still have it, and the optional printer cradle.

DrEntropy
09-07-2016, 12:34 PM
My Ol' Fella gave me mum a TI-30 for Christmas when it first came out. That machine blew me away. No more SLIP-STICKS!!!