Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

When bigger was better

I love to read. I love books, and magazines, and libraries. I like reading so much, that I have even purchased books; though I much prefer to get them free. I am always on the look-out for books at yard sales, Church sales, and the library’s Free Bin. I have discovered writers, and read about esoteric topics I never would have, simply because they were in a box of paperbacks I picked up for a dollar.
This has been true for as longs as I can remember.

Needless to say, the books you pick up for free at such places as I mentioned are somewhat.. well, out of date and often are really old. (The book I‘m about to mention is older than I am, if you can imagine that!)

In my latest bag of free books I discovered a book from 1961 titled, SAC, Men and Machines of Our Strategic Air Command. (This was published well before Dr. Strangelove* made the scene.) This book provided a tour of the branch of the Air Force often thought of as the “doomsday boys”– the ICBM and B-52 crews of the Cold War policy of MAD.

The reason I mention it here is because of this picture of the “computerized nerve-center” of SAC Headquarters– titled “IBM Underground Computers” (Click on image to see larger version.)
SAC computer room

Still further underground the electronic computers of SAC hum continually as all new information of interest is fed into the giant machines. Here all information pertaining to SAC, such as status of aircraft, missiles, crews, bases, war plans and supplies, are stored for instant readiness right up to the minute. In case of war these computers would record progress of strike force, so that all data is instantly available for use in strategy maneuvers. From a trajectory center, intelligence specialists will, with the aid of such computers, mathematically compute trajectory and space data for use in aiming SAC missiles from its many bases.”

This picture fascinates me. Here you see the machines that have evolved into your PC’s today (In fact, your laptop is more capable than this whole room was).
Of particular note:
* The reel-to-reel things in the back, nearly as tall as a man, are what we call a “hard-drive” today.. and I doubt that all of them (I count 7) added together equals a Gigabyte.
* In the foreground is a printer– as big as a wetbar, and capable of printing 60 words a-minute.
* Where’s the monitor?

This was the best money could buy back then, and I would estimate you’re looking at several million dollars’ worth of equipment. State of the art– 1961.

As the saying goes, we’ve come a long way, baby!

* A Tech Paul’s Top 100 Movies list member.

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Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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May 27, 2008 Posted by | computers, hardware, PC, tech | Leave a comment