vintage ibm


Lil update on the rescued IBM workstation. After much cleaning and a whole lot of troubleshooting, the old girl finally booted up again.

Thanks to advice from @duckgwr, I was able to determine why the motherboard would not post.

It’s interesting to note that the system is running PC-DOS with Windows 3.1, however I found evidence that OS/2 is, or was, hiding out somewhere on the hard drive.


Cold War computing: Relics of SAGE

Mike Loewen brought along some great relics of the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (or SAGE) air defense system from the cold war.  IBM made the AN/FSQ-7, which still holds the record for the largest computer ever created.  This ground breaking network was one of the first reasons to need a modem for computer communication between various points around the country between SAGE installations.  Mike brought along dials and gauges, control panels, vacuum tube assemblies, and my personal favorite piece: core memory.  A whole slab of it.

I love core memory.


While the blueprints of nature have existed since… well… the beginning of time, the fractal math revealing these hidden patterns was only discovered in the 1970s. But that didn’t stop software designer and fractal enthusiast Ken Shirriff from bending time to generate a classic Mandelbrot fractal on a 50-year-old IBM 1401 mainframe. Running antique punch cards, Ken had to wait 12 long minutes for the heavy-duty scientific calculation job to complete, thanks to a 15-second CPU delay for each printed row! Yes, a completely impractical, yet utterly ingenious undertaking. We love the way your mind works, Ken. And thanks for the photos. Nerd out on the deets