Hmm - I may have seen one of those. At one point in '65 the outfit I was
working for needed more capacity so one Saturday I was loaded into a cab
with a couple dozen tapes to borrow the 70/45 at NIPSCO (Northern
Illinois Public Service Co).
They still had their pre-Spectra system (just in case) and it looked a
lot like that.
That trip was my intro to RCA's high-speed tape drives - which, as I
discovered, meant that if they glitched they could suck about 250' of
tape into a vacuum column faster than an operator could say ****, and
pack it so tight that it took a letter opener to pry out.
By the third time it'd stopped being even mildly interesting. (Hit the
COIN button, abort the run, pry the tape out of the drive, rewind the
other drives, mount a backup tape, and re-start the program. Ugh. :(
Yeah, those babies were Fun. We used to have contests to see how quickly you
could get all the drives off BT and then rewound - using the console. Then
there was the tape mount rodeo! And with 3/4" tape, you did some upper body
work every shift. When we got the Spectras, I wrote some cod to emulate the
tape drives using the spectra disk drives. Really speeded up the stuff we
still had to run using the 501 and 301 emulators. Drove the 501 prototype
for a couple weeks in Camden, NJ. IIRC, RCA had several in Viet Nam.
Supposedly one running in a tent, which I can believe as ours could take all
kinds of a licking and keep on ticking!
Did they have a goony bird paper tape reader? Sometimes you had to use the
eraser on the end of a pencil to keep the pt reader from snapping the tape.
Idea was to use an Unsharpened pencil - DAMHIKT! I used to be able to read
the paper tape manually.
Brain fart. It couldn't have been NIPSCO - must have been ComEd.
No paper tape on the RCA systems I used (thankfully), but the home
system was tape only. The good part about the utility's system was that
they had a disk drive for the operating system. Pure luxury for a TOS
There is another free option, but I should mention that there is a
bit of a learning curve to get started. The virtual world of Second
Life allows one to build. You may enter exact dimensions, create
multiple pieces, and it is free. There are tons of in world
tutorials. I made my living for 3 years building spaces in SL for
corporate clients, so that is where I design most of my stuff. The
nice thing about SL is that you could build in groups, if your
woodworking friends also joined. As for curves and such, no problem.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=suGykJIBLZU This is a video showing
things that either I personally built or my workers built. There are
lots of bits of furniture.
I also love Google Sketchup and 3Ds Max.
Ah, the tape emulator idea. We had a 360/40 and got a 7094 free from
the Navy. Also got an IBM TICU (Tape Intersystem Connecting Unit). It
connected to the 7094 and looked exactly like 10 tape drives. It also
connected to the 360 and didn't look like anything without some code
work. I got the job of writing the tape emulator program on the 360.
We were running OS/MFT and I had all of 8K for code and buffers. The
challenge was the 7090 could read/write 32K words of 36 bits in one
whack. It was an interesting I/O chaining challenge with CCW's imbedded
in the disk buffers. It also depended on a seek of one cylinder taking
no more time than one rotation of the disk and not having any
re-assigned tracks. Those were the days...
We thought they'd never end ... As late as 1983 I was still keying stuff in
on the front panel of an SDS Sigma 7 - using my nose. :o) Had to Manually
calculate overlays and break up the code to fit.
Worked on a port of Unix to PDP Micro J/11 only to find out two years later
that the company hadn't licensed it from ATT. :(
On Sun, 11 Apr 2010 17:29:27 -0700, LDosser wrote:
Another operator and I once wired a 407 plugboard to list missing checks
for payroll reconciliation. The checks were punched cards so we were
running them through and listing the ones that weren't there! IBM said
it couldn't be done. There were so many wires (including quite a few one
way wires) we had to pull some and put in the "permanent" wires so we
could get a cover on the board.
It worked fine for several months and suddenly stopped working. We
accosted the IBM CE and he confessed he'd done a "tuneup" and found the
timing was a little off so he fixed it. We convinced him to put it back
the way it was. Thereafter, for at least as long as I worked there,
there was a sign on the 407 that threatened immediate beheading for
anyone who touched it!
BTW, the first payroll system written for the Univac took 8-9 days to
run. For a weekly payroll! Seems table lookups on mag tape were just a
mite too slow :-).
Intelligence is an experiment that failed - G. B. Shaw
Used to Stand on the wires to flatten the mess out!! And, invariably, you'd
need one more wire and everything left was too short ...
The prototype RCA 501 would sometimes come up with a write memory error and
I complained to the tech. He wander back along the rows of cabinets with a
ball peen hammer banging on doors and yelling "That fix it?" Riffling boards
was another favorite for fixing glitches in those days.
Our year end stuff used to Print for a week. Just Print. What a BORE.
Consider yourself lucky. One brokerage I did work for, the *MONTH-END*
reporting took nearly a week to print -- when the printers weren't
'otherwise occupied' (e.g., overnite reporting, and various stuff that
was needed in 'near real time'), that is. Year-end was something like
6 weeks, and growing.
There was talk of adding additional printers, but _that_ required finding
the space to put them -- the existing computer room was full to the gills,
*and* the A/C was taxed to the limit.
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