Another milestone for CT&I's IBM 1440 project

Donated to CT&I from the mountains of California by Bob Rosenbloom under the guidance of Robert Garner, IBM Almaden Research Center, one of three known IBM 1442 Card Readers in existence was delivered to the TechWorks! Workshop last week.  The device was designed by IBM San Jose in the late 1950s, per Don Rex, IBM Fellow.  Don's 1442 team was building IBM's last card handling equipment while down the hall the magnetic disk drive was being developed.  Per Robert Garner, who works closely with the 1401 restoration project team at the Computer History Museum, Mountain View, CA, the other two 1442 card reader punches are found at The National Museum of Computing, Bletchley Park, UK, and the 1130.org, a group of private collectors and enthusiasts in Berkeley, CA.

The 1442 is quite clean; the mechanics look good, with no evidence of a non-OEM mouse in residence - what a delight!  CT&I's 1440 team will need to build interfaces and cables to account for voltage and other vintage differences between the 1442 SLT cards (mid 1960s) and the SMS cards (late 1950s) used in the 1441/1447/1311 devices. Documentation for the 1440 system is coming from around the world - Mountain View and Berkeley, CA; Boca Raton, FL; Sindelfingen, Germany; Fishkill and Sommers, NY; and Bletchley Park, UK.  None the less, there are holes in the knowledge base - if you know of 1440 system documentation, please let us know.

Because the 1442 is both an input and an output device, CT&I now has a good chance of operating a complete IBM 1440 system for the 50th anniversary of the system release in Fall 2012.  Although the 1440 system performs complex math worthy of an 11th grader, visitors can't see the machine thinking - no flashing lights, no moving parts, no visible output, only a steady hum.  With an operational 1442, visitors will be able to watch a deck of cards be read in, data crunched, and cards output with results. We are still in the hunt for an IBM 1403 chain printer, vintage 1959 - mid 1960s, fast enough to play music from a card deck.

Thanks to all who are working so hard to see the 1440 restoration come to fruition. We hope you will be able to join in celebrating the 50th anniversary of the IBM 1440 System, details forthcoming as the plans emerge.  Excelsior!

See pictures from the arrival here