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1401 Demo Usage

From Robert Garner - in response to questions Saturday June 2, 2018
As we know all too well, mechanical machines wear down and require maintenance.
But they were also designed and built to be operated and used.
Given that our mechanical stuff — 1402, 1403, 026s, 083, 729s — is 55+ years old, we're definitely pioneers in this discipline.

That it’s still useable and maintainable is a nod to the high quality of the equipment that IBM designed and manufactured and to the skill and persistence of the restoration team. ;-)
Since the Demo Lab opened in June, 2013, there hasn’t been a single interruption of our “1401 live demo service.” ;-)) One or both 1401 systems have been always available for demonstration sessions or events.

Based on these past five years, the rate of mechanical repair has been “manageable”, not exorbitant.
Thus, overall, the team has been generally OK with the current demo/usage regime.

My feeling is that the practice of running BigPrint before and after demo sessions hasn’t negatively affected maintenance, but this likely deserves more discussion with the team, so thanks for bringing it up. ;-)

Allen, Demo'ers —> How many BigPrints do you estimate are being run per day, on average?

Part of the reason that current usage appears OK is that two years ago we elected to discourage “frivolous” usage, such as punching cards and running BigPrint for every student in a visiting school groups.
- In particular, demo'ers should only run BigPrint for a few/limited number of students per group. (I like Pat’s approach of running it only for those who ask “good” questions about what they’re experiencing. -
The outcome is quality questions, enthusiastic/objective interest, and less wear of the 026s, 1402, and 1403.)

> To my knowledge this has not been discussed with the team before. If it has, I assume we carry on without limits?

Yes, as led by Stan, this topic was discussed and debated in depth two years ago. - see below -
Out of that discussion came these “Guidelines for 1401 Usage” (that Frank concurred with :-):
(They still need to be posted on our 1401 restoration website, modulo revisions that might come out of this rejuvenated discussion... :-)

from Stan Paddock - May 7, 2016, with Frank King concuring
It is understood that the IBM equipment in the Computer History Museum is at least 50 years old and requires TLC to keep it going for as long as possible.
Based upon this, the following guidelines have been drawn up.
  1. Only two demonstrations per week.
    One or two extra demos per week may be scheduled for special occasions.
    These will be the same demonstrations as performed on Saturdays and Wednesdays with the same computer usage and printing as a normal demonstration.

  2. When either 1401 system is powered up, it is requested that the printer gate (big black knob) is left open unless you are going to print right away.
    When you are finished printing, open the printer gate.
    These steps will prolong the life of the print chains.

  3. After starting a demo program from the card reader, open the hopper gate to stop the reader motor from running.
    This does not apply to BigPrint that needs to read cards.

  4. If any piece of equipment fails (card jams and such) it is requested that the machine be powered down, a note placed on the equipment signifying that the device is out of service and the problem.
    It is easier for the maintenance team to repair problems if the equipment is left in the error state.
    If there is a card jam in the 1402 card reader, please leave it to the maintenance team.
    It is too easy to damage the wires and brushes the 1402 while clearing a card jam thereby causing even more problems.

The CHM Maintenance Team
Posted June 2, 2018