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Monday, November 18, 2013

The remodel of the IBM 1401 room is complete

We now have a lighted sign outside our new room.

The picture below is of a sign that shows an IBM 1401 in use.
This sign is 10 feet wide and 40 feet tall.
You have to stand close to the sign and look up to see the rest of the sign!

And as if that was not enough, they painted 1401 on the wall in large numbers.

As you enter the room, the whole left wall is a picture of an IBM data center in Toronto Canada.
An IBM 1401 is shown on the left side of the image.

And in case you did not know why you were in the room.....

One of the signs on the back wall talking about the beginning of the IBM 1401

More information about the IBM 1401 

A tribute to the volunteers that brought the machines back to life.
The top picture is that of Bob Erickson fixing a very small wire in a bank of 1401 memory.

A private demonstration was held by Robert Garner, Ed Thelen and Stan Paddock for the VIP 1401 visitors and their families in the new room on Sunday night, November 17, 2013.

The list of people visiting is as follows
Jim J Ingram
Jim H Ingram
Kate Ingram
Jud McCarthy
David Schwaderer
Scott Bellefleur
Chuck Branscomb
Tia Branscomb
Chuck Branscomb
Andy Branscomb
Debbie Branscomb
Rick Johnson
Eric Branscomb
Ruth Randa

Friday, November 1, 2013

Wednesday Workday October 30, 2013

The workday started with trying to fix the German 1401's memory problem.
We all suspected Alzheimer's disease but it was decided it cannot be transmitted from the workers to the machine.

Bill Newman was looking into the circuitry of the IBM 1406 expanded memory and found a disconnect.
When re-connected, all 16,000 locations of memory came back to life.
Now if it was that easy for our memory.

Filled with success, Bill tryed to find out why the A register on the same machine would not latch.

Bill said "It is this card right here". Let's replace it and see if the problem goes away.

This is, in fact, the bad SMS circuit card Bill identified.
George Ahearn replaced the bad transistor and all is well with the world.

While people were marking floor tiles to be cut and fixing broken machines, Ed Thelen was cleaning old labels off the tape drives and taking pictures of the others.

Dave Lion, Ed Thelen and Stan Paddock were looking for the connector in the main power line for the Connecticut 1401 system.
After lifting several floor tiles, we found it.

Dave Lion suggested that if we had a floor tile numbering schema, we could document where the connector is in case we need to do something with it.
Dave started with the tile in the North East corner of the room as A-1. The tiles going East to West are A,B,C,....
The tiles going from North to South are 1,2,3,4,5,6...

Frank King and Ron Williams lifted p a corner of the Connecticut 1401 in order to feed in the connection to first IBM 729 tape drive.

The first tape drive of the German system  did not respond to a rewind command from the 1401.
We have had this problem with this drive on and off for the last year.
Maybe this is the time we can find it and fix it.

The first tape drive of the Connecticut machine appears to work OK.

Stan Paddock

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Second straight non-Wednesday workday Monday October 28, 2103

Last week the electricians connected both 1401 computers to the building power.

Our team came in Saturday and connected the equipment together.
The Connecticut machine came up with only having to reverse two legs of the three phase power.
This is normal as the electricians have no way of knowing the rotational phase of the three phase power.
When we see one of our three phase motors going backwards, we fix the problem at the power connection.

While the 60/50 power converter came up and appeared to be OK, the German 1401 was not happy.
It would not start.

A number of techies all figured that the connection between the German machine and the 60/50 cycle converter was the possible problem.
There was only one thing to do; Call in Ron Crane who is the expert.
After Ron fixed the wiring to the output of the 60/50 cycle power converter, the German responded to the power on button.

Power came (and stayed) up - but the lower 4,000 characters of memory does not work. No bits, no apparent response. 

Here is Ron Williams, in his customary prayerful position?? trouble shooting. 

Meanwhile, Carl Claunch and Frank King are starting to cable the CT magnetic tape drives. Carl stated that after the enthusiastic activities of Saturday, he was a major buyer of over-the-counter pain killers. 

Here is Stan, either pulling cable for the mag tape of the DE machine, praying, or collapsing.

Carl and Stan trying to get the mag tape cables into the cut-out floor tile. I thought that computer people were white collar workers !! ?? !! ;-)) 

Dave Lion was mostly in the warehouse "Cyclops" hauling cables, printer paper, IBM cards, etc. and wondering where to put the rest of the office cubical of material to be removed "before the 1st".

Next Wednesday, we will attempt to wire up tape drives with existing floor tiles or mark floor tiles 
for cutting cable access.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Status for Oct 16, 2013

When the Computer History Museum was built, it had HALON fire suppression installed in the computer room.

At some point, the system was removed.

However some of the under-the-floor plumbing was left behind.

With the current addition to under-the-floor fire sprinklers, the two under-the-floor plumbing systems were close to each other making the placement of the IBM 1401 cables difficult.

Frank King, Dave Lion and Stan Paddock went into the depths and removed the HALON plumbing and the brackets that supported that plumbing

On Monday, October 21, the movers and Dave Lion will be returning to move the German 1401 system back into the 1401 room.

On Wednesday, October 23, the 1401 team will move all equipment in the 1401 room to the final display locations.

Add power and a bunch of cables, we will be ready to go!

(Sounds Simple doesn't it?) 

Monday, October 7, 2013

This has nothing to do with the 1401 but it was fun to watch

The Computer History Museum  bought the current building back in the early 1990s.
The building came complete with an electrical system that could provide backup power to the servers SGI had in what is now the 1401  room.

Withe the remodel, all of the controls of the backup power were removed and stored on the loading dock.

A buyer was found to buy the control equipment and the 7,000 pound diesel generator located in the back parking lot.

A representave from the company and a crane showed up this afternoon to collect all of the items.
John showed up with his heavy duty trailer

Paul showed up with his do anything crane

Dennis Vassar showed up to help lift the generator off the ground

Go Dennis, go!

She is down on the trailer

Dennis added the 2,000 pound power conditioner to the load.
The generator is going to Petaluma to be cleaned up and checked out by the company that bought it.
Then it will be installed at a winery who will use it for backup power.

First Repopulation of the 1401 room at CHM

Monday October 7, 2013.

The Connecticut 1401 and most of the unit record equipment was moved back into the newly refurbished 1401 exhibit room.
Just fits thru doorway
1800 pounds up that ramp is a B____

Well that is a start. Yes that that red is an IBM color.

More equipment in place

That is a lot of equipment in a small space

Maybe we can place a keypunch or two in that little closet
 This next Wednesday, October 9th, the 1401 crew will try to make sense of this collection of vintage IBM items

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

1401 Status September 24, 2013

The 1401 exhibit room is almost ready for use. The two corner rail sections will be removed to facilitate move in of the equipment.
First move of major equipment is scheduled for Monday, October 7th. The team will attempt to position all of the equipment on Wednesday October 9th.

The first piece of equipment was moved into the Liebert (hidden room behind exhibit space) today. It is the largest cabinet we have and houses all of our spare 1401 SMS cards.

Bob Erickson and Ron Williams continue to work on the Williams Tube demonstration unit. Dave Lion and Glenn Lea both helped earlier in the day.

Stan Paddock