Room-sized computers, tended by labcoat priests, narrated in cheerful midwestern tones, with uptempo orchestral music

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33 Responses to “Room-sized computers, tended by labcoat priests, narrated in cheerful midwestern tones, with uptempo orchestral music”

  1. Alpacaman says:

    Anybody know what the funky clunky thing shown at the end is? The one attacking a stack of platters of some kind.

    • crummett says:

      Probably a hard drive, with a capacity of nearly 1 megabyte!

      • Alpacaman says:

        I was thinking it was storage of some kind, but it is all exposed looking so I figured it wasn’t magnetic. Maybe it works as a big spinning punch card?

        • digi_owl says:

          Given the size, it could probably ignore anything smaller than a bumblebee without blinking.

        • Yacko says:

          I think it is behind some clear curved wall, glass? In the bad old days, people forget, hard drives had removable data packs.

        • Tore Sinding Bekkedal says:

          It is the IBM RAMAC disk drive. Considering the whole thing stored on the order of 5-10MB, the density wasn’t all that great.

      • digi_owl says:

        I recall finding a image of such a drive being delivered to a Norwegian computing facility, by way of a DC-3 and a forklift, some time in the 60s. I think it had the staggering, for the time, capacity of 10MB.

        • Tore Sinding Bekkedal says:

          It might have been the IBM 305 RAMAC being delivered to Freia, the chocolate factory.

          The capacity was not the staggering part, the random access was. a 2400′ magtape at 1600BPI easily dwarfed it. But it made a hell of a difference in terms of turnaround time on things like inventory control – which was what they were often used for.

          Note that the disk was tightly connected to the computer it was sold with, as a kind of half-way between the IBM unit-record equipment (card sorter, card calculator, tabulator, accounting machines, etcetera) and computing.

          I recall the CPU architecture as being pretty zany.

    • digi_owl says:

      here we go, courtesy of wikipedia:
      http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b4/IBM_350_RAMAC.jpg

      Well crap, that was already posted…

    • nixiebunny says:

      RAMAC 305 or similar. It was IBM’s first hard disk drive, storing 5 megabytes, which was a lot of data for 1956.

  2. crummett says:

    Suddenly I want two new toys- an iPad app for flipping switches like the panel at :05, and a USB paper tape drive.

  3. Antinous / Moderator says:

    The first scene looks more like the mighty Wurlitzer organ.

  4. jerryeast says:

    Thank goodness we as a planet have reached the absolute pinnacle of human knowledge and machine capability and will not have to worry about being made fun of by future tech-savvy generations

  5. peterkvt80 says:

    Looks like an IBM Disk File. 50 platters and only one pair of  heads! Total capacity 5MB.

  6. Petzl says:

    Best line ever, from the Wikipedia entry:“This first ever disk drive was initially cancelled by the IBM Board of Directors because of its threat to the IBM punch card business….”

  7. KillianOP says:

    “Labcoat priests” in those pre-enlightenment Dark Ages on tech. That music could be fantastic for productivity, although perhaps only for building candy steam trains.

  8. digi_owl says:

    on the topic of drives:
    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b4/IBM3380DiskDriveModule.agr.jpg

    looks like it could double as a warp drive component or something…

    • Mark Dow says:

      I like the caution sticker. I wonder if anyone got a hernia lifting it inappropriately.

      I’m going to put the biggest Caution sticker I can manage onto my 4g/4GB archaic thumb drive.

  9. Work_Watch_Buy_Repeat says:

    Based on the applications being discussed (e.g. “fire support”), the context of this video is a discussion of early military computers, promising to streamline and automate the business of killing.  Well, Mission Accomplished!

  10. Whatever happened to lab coats?

    • soylent_plaid says:

      You can wear them in your office if you wish.  After all, you’re operating a machine that’s literally millions of times more powerful than the ones these fine gentlemen were rocking, so you should probably have the right equipment.

  11. desiredusername says:

    I’ll bet half of those programs are linear programming algorithms.

  12. Nothing says “the future!” like syncopated marimba.

  13. Ian Dahlberg says:

    If you’re ever in the California Bay Area (Mountain View to be specific) I highly recommend visiting the Computer History Museum, where you can see these behemoths in person:
    http://www.computerhistory.org/

  14. Culturedropout says:

    I think the one guy was downloading porn on paper tape.  “When I was your age, our pr0n was delivered in 8-pixel-wide strips that we had to paste together.  We got paper cuts on our junk like you would not _believe, and we were *thankful* for it!”

  15. The computers in this video — MOBIDIC, BASICPAC, and COMPAC — were all part of the Army Signal Corp’s FIELDATA program. FIELDATA was the predecessor to ASCII. It was designed (along with MOBIDIC) at the Evans Signal Lab, in Belmar, New Jersey. As it happens, that laboratory in the 1990s closed and the campus became a museum called the InfoAge Science History Learning Center. Among other exhibits, it contains a computer museum, where there’s even a small piece of a MOBIDIC on display. The museum also hosts the Vintage Computer Festival East. Its next edition is May 5-6 — learn more about http://www.vintage.org/2012/east/.

  16. Bloo says:

    We once had programs which would draw things (usually large letters) using the holes on punched paper tape as ‘pixels’

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