New PDF release: A few good men from Univac

By David E. Lundstrom

ISBN-10: 0262121204

ISBN-13: 9780262121200

During this own memoir, electric engineer David Lundstrom recollects the heyday of early computing, the increase of keep watch over info out of the Univac department of Sperry Rand, such milestone computers because the Univac and the Naval Tactical facts process the exploits of CDC's best fashion designer Seymour Cray, and the slow company shift from the intriguing and technically fascinating international of machine layout to inner politics and clumsy forms. - writer.  Read more...

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IBM had built a profitable business from leasing equipment for punching cards, sorting cards, and tabulating (printing out the information on) cards. We at Univac disliked the universal term "IBM cards" because Remington Rand had its own competitive line of punched card equipment These used round holes and stored ninety characters on a punched card, as opposed to IB~f s rectangular holes and eighty-character cards. The Remington Rand cards never caught on in the marketplace although they were superior from a strictly technical standpoint Besides having a greater capacity per card, round holes are easier to punch than rectangular holes, and punch dies stay sharp longer.

Univac's first fullscale operating prototype was known by the official military designation AN/USQ-17. It looked like a chest-style home freezer except that it was painted battleship gray. The hinged, counterbalanced lid could be raised to gain access to the chassis, aluminum frames about three feet square that slid up and down in grooves in the inside of the chest Each of the printed circuit cards, cont aining the transistors and other compo ne nts, was about the size of a graham cracker. The cards plugged into the chassis.

The chassis were slid in horizont al chann els in this model Anothe r improvemen t was in the cooling system, which used a chilled water heat exchanger and air recirculat ed in a closed-loop system like the Univac II. One advantage of the closed recirculating cooling over the open air flow of the older package was discovered by accid ent Smoke was seen pouring from th e prototype computer one day. After the powe r was shut off. the lid open ed, and th e fire extinguished, it was found that one of the resistors on a printed circuit card had overh eated It had set fire to the printed circuit card material The flame, fed by the vertical draft airflow, fanned out in a perfect V above the burni ng card, setting fire to six or eight more cards above it.

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A few good men from Univac by David E. Lundstrom

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