Operating a Computer in 1954

I was always confused about computers in the Jetsons. They looked and were controlled like no computer I grew up with. When I asked about it, my Mother informed me that computers used to be more like the one George operating it. I have since seen some old machines, and have seen footage in action. Every time I see one I am endlessly fascinated by how much more “mechanical” they seem.

I would love to know what this machine would have sounded like while being operated.


[via] seancuttlefish


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One thought on “Operating a Computer in 1954

  1. Quantum Mechanic says:

    My boss at a former job worked (as a civilian) for the Navy when he was young and he used a military computer a lot like the one pictured above. I got to see it (in non-operational form) when I worked at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in the 1990s.

    You’d program on punchcards which went through a reader which produced punched paper tape from the cards. You had to know what external routines you needed (like sine, cosine, etc.) and would have to get those tapes from the library storage area and load them into the computer first, and then load in your program. When run, it would spit out another paper tape that you’d carry over to the printing machine, which was basically a player-piano-ization of a 1950s typewriter. You’d spool up the output tape and it’d be read and the typewriter would bang out your output.

    The main console had a gazillion lights on it — every register, the current memory location, etc., each light being a bit. There was even a single-step switch used for debugging which was even spring-loaded so you could easily flick it with your thumb.

    I would so dearly have loved to see the thing running…

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