Tech – for Everyone

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

Computers Then and Now*

Folks, just yesterday I was once again reminded of the march of technological progress — namely, how much more power we have, in a smaller device, at far less cost. Which reminded me of this previous post I wrote, originally titled “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 well, out of date and often are really old.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”

sac-computer-room.jpg

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.

Today’s free link: Looking for a great way to view and manage your RSS feeds from your desktop? Look no further than , the most popular Windows RSS reader.

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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August 12, 2009 - Posted by | computers, tech | , , , , , , , ,

5 Comments »

  1. Paul:
    I found this web site about old computer’s, I thought you and your faithful might find this interesting:

    http://oldcomputers.net/

    Like

    Comment by Larry Caplan | August 12, 2009 | Reply

    • Mr. Caplan,
      Hey, very “kewel” site. Thanks!

      Like

      Comment by techpaul | August 12, 2009 | Reply

  2. The “reel-to-reel things” were not hard-drives, they were tape drives.

    Like

    Comment by Anonymous | August 13, 2009 | Reply

    • Sir or Ms.,
      Yes, that’s why I put that in quotes.

      Magnetic tapes are still being used for backup and archiving, but most of us use HDD’s for data storage today.

      Like

      Comment by techpaul | August 13, 2009 | Reply

  3. In that pic it looks like they were looking for those weapons of mass destruction back then as well…

    Rick

    Like

    Comment by Ramblinrick | August 14, 2009 | Reply


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