Friday, December 4, 2015

Visited museum and returned home


I was able to visit the museum in the United Kingdom during my trip and meet again with Peter Vaughan who restores and maintains historic systems including an IBM 1130. Their system is working fine, but they don't have a system disk cartridge to run DMS2. Since I have quite a few cartridges, I should be able to build it and send it to them, as soon as I have my virtual card reader functionality working fully.

The museum system is an 8K 1130 with a 1442 card reader/punch and an 1132 printer. I got a quick picture of Peter standing behind the system.
Peter Vaughan at the National Museum of Computing, UK, with their running 1130 system

Their newest prize is the first computer built by British Tabulating Machinery, the Hollerith Electronic Computer 1 (HEC-1). which was a prototype, never sold, but was the basis for subsequent HEC machines they sold. They are not sure if it can be restored to working order, given its construction quality was sufficient as an engineering testbed not continued production use. However, they are a clever bunch, so if it is at all possible, I would expect to see it running again.
HEC 1 computer front side
Back of HEC-1 computer, showing funky wiring
The other exciting project underway at TNMOC is the creation of a replica of the EDSAC computer. Quite a bit is complete already, but it will be some time until it is all complete and running. The original EDSAC used mercury vat delay lines for memory, but due to the hazardous nature of mercury plus the difficulty acheiving reliable operation of such memories, they are substituting delay lines using nickle wire. Otherwise, it is as exact as possible to the original machine.

EDSAC replica coming together


I had scanned several manuals and ALDs but the results remained as many files each representing a block of 20 or 30 pages. Due to the use of autofeeder, one side of the document would be in reverse page number while the other side is in ascending sequence. I had to 'sort' the pages in Acrobat, which frankly is much more work than it sounds, then merge the files.

When merged, I had runs of perhaps 20 even page numbers followed by 20 odd page numbers, which I had to resequence so that the result is a linearly increasing document. The flight was a good opportunity to get that done.

The ALD had pages which were rotated 90 degrees while others were 'upright', but for ease of reading I changed all the pages to be readable 'upright'. It was much easier to combine the sections of the ALD, since I didn't have two-sided printing to deal with and thus no blocks of even and blocks of odd pages reversed.

No comments:

Post a Comment