50 years ago today, IBM announced the 1401 Data Processing System
Originally designed as a spooling system for the larger machines, the 1401 became very popular as a mainframe in its own right, eventually being called 'The Model T of Computers'. By the end of 1961, the number of 1401s installed in the United States alone had reached 2,000 - representing about one fourth of all computers installed by all manufacturers at that time. 15- 20,000 were eventually built.
The Computer History Museum
in Mountain View is having a 50th anniversary celebration
on November 10th.
Here's what $125,600 (or $2500/month rent) would get you:
1401- 6-bit processor with 1400 bytes of core storage
. Clock speed 87KHz
1402- combination card reader (800 cards per minute) & punch (250 cards per minute)
1403- 600 lpm printer
If you're willing to spend more you could get up to 16k of memory by getting a 1406
Then you might want some 729s (featured here)
for card to tape or tape to print operations, at $30k-60k apiece.
If you need some disk space, you could try the 1405
, for up to 20MB.
The processor was approximately 30"x58"x58", and used a 30A, 208V power connector (3 phase). The entire system needed 23,000 BTU of cooling per hour.
The Computer History Museum has been restoring two systems
for the last 5 years, the second of which it acquired from a father and son who were using it to operate a billing service business until 1995 out of their home
in Darien, Connecticut.
Those without access to their own 1401 can download an emulator
(You might need reference material
, or at least the reference card
Here's a Hello World
to get you started.