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1401 Meeting Sept 12, 2007 Docents

Wednesday meeting - September 12, 2007

1401 demo planning

  Bill Worthington,  Mike Cheponis, Stan Paddock, Jim Somers, and Ed Thelen 
There is no attempt in the following to identify the speaker - 
   I think this an advantage sociologically  ;-))

---------------- start of approximate, abbreviated transcription ------------

1401 is basically a replacement for a 403 or 407, or 604 or 609
   unless you have tapes, you can not effectively sort or merge.   

Get Bill Worthington enough material to 
    pull  together talking points, script
 launch early spring.
    Starting Beta testing,  maybe Vintage Computer Festival,
          1st weekend in November -

|  Transcriber interjection  ;-))
|     good alpha testing subjects would be
|       - docents, many have never used our key punches nor seen "BigPrint" nor tapes
|       - most of the CHM staff, have even less knowledge of what we can do -

    Likely Docents - 
        Bill Worthington and Paul Covage (new docent, old IBMer with 1401 experience)
        is Dan McInnis interested ? 
    Previous Vintage Computer Festival was useful to develop PDP-1 script -

Purpose today 
   - begin look at and talk through what we currently have 
   - and determine what we need to take the next step in form of materials we need.

What would the museum visitor take away after a visit with us?
   We were ad-hoc with the PDP-1 - we have these real cool peripherals - 

When I leave the museum what do I want to remember
    what do I want to tell my friends about -

a) punch card - show some unit record equipment in operation
      a little what Bill Worthington's DP tour 
        get a sense of what data processing was like in the 1950s
      It is so different now that people are working on their lap tops -

   back then there were rooms set up with 
          give a sense of the atmosphere - 

Currently, (and in the foreseeable future) we will be showing
   the 1401 in the restoration area -
  The PDP-1 moved to a separate presentation area -

We will have to look at how many people we can let in - 
   Even the current PDP-1/IBM 1620 room can get crowded -
      "wear deodorant"  ;-))

Bill Worthington gave us a quick rundown on his DP tour in
   visible storage - wishes he had an accounting machine to show
       - we do have a 403 and a 407 -

For the visible storage tour -
    we have plenty of punched cards and chad
        that docents can hand out -
  about chad - sharp corners:
       - bad on eyes
       - catch in carpets and difficult to remove

Number of people in 1401 room?
Bill Worthington has done well with 12 people along the rail,
   but if we want folks keypunching and touching the equipment??
Make a list of what we want people to do.
Question - in past reality, most people didn't keypunch their own cards -
    users provided forms
         - meter readings, hours a list of people worked, programmer coding forms, ...
    and a room full of "girls" and keypunches would convert the data into
          punched (and verified - not mentioned in our discussions) cards.
    The time between submitting the forms and getting results could be hours to a day -
          - or longer if your job got bumped due to say payroll -
    In this case we don't 

All  the programming students would punch their own cards,
     and then desk check them, and then submit the deck to 
       a drawer by machine room, 
    and wait hours or a day for their results in another drawer
           with card deck and printout -

The thing I like about the keypunch is it moves, it vibrates,
    it makes a noise - very tactile - auditory -
    It is a whole experience, you even smell the oil !!
      You just don't get that typing into a laptop !!!
I think that helps capture a lot of the experience -

On keypunching there is no backspace key - you have to punch another card -

Discussion of adding a 1405 (RAMAC type disk storage)
    the logic was actually in the 1406 extended memory storage unit.  


sorter fun - use colored cards 

sequence numbered program decks -
    a two column sort as a more educational experience of card sorting
       1st pass - (low digit) colors still mixed
       2nd pass - (high digit) colors separate - 

Museum visitor experience as a driver
  seeing/using the equipment to tune the experience, could be another driver.
Visitors see the results of punching their card -
    the 1401 very visibly prints their name (BigPrint)
and the visitor takes both home as a souvenir

Guest cards not used in sorter - 

Ron Williams has a multicolored card deck that gets
    color separated in the 1402 three read pocket select.
This would be an interesting demonstration also -

Probably use this feature to pocket select the customer cards into
    a different 1402 pocket 
      - " we knew you wanted your cards back to take home" :-))
 - Enhance "BigPrint" program to do that ;-))

Could we have visitor punched name cards shuffled into a deck of
   say 200 blank cards, and use a 083 or the 1402 to separate out the
   visitor cards.
On the PDP-1 demos, we have the basic demo,
    then extended demos we can do as crowd pleasers - 
If one of the basic (peripherals) is down,
   we can use these other demos -

You have to be able to
   Even if the 1401 is down, there are many other things we can show -

There is something that will take a little time to sink in -
   this punched card is the data -
   in current experience, the user never gets to see or touch the
        actual data, which us likely a magnetic spot sealed away "in there"
        - what is exhibited on a spread sheet is the result of the data.
That is the real data - you are holding it !!


How much time do we have to demonstrate our system -
   Hour long?

   Maybe two stages 
     a) general demo for a general audience?
     b) come back in a few minutes for the key punch experience?

four elements
   a) keypunch 
   b) five minute sorting
   c) collator, have to discus its function
   d) tapes
   e) card reader
   f) there is only 4,000 characters of memory 
         how to convey this to relative to cell phone

Maybe only a few people will really want to keypunch
    many are shy - fill out a keypunch form for demonstrator to keypunch?

Available 1401 Programs
     - BigPrint
     - Dan McInnis - quick test/demo of everything including tapes
     - Singlefingen Germany - switch option demo?
     - maybe have a "tape sort" going as guests arrive -

In the PDP-1 system, all demos are in core -
     does not need to have the paper tape reader working
           to give a good demo -

Should we have two demos?
    a) unit record
    b) 1401

If you don't know anything about punched cards,
   you lose something if you only look at the 1401

Bill Worthington would like an accounting machine, 403 or 407,
    working or not, there to point at for his 
Maybe we should paste a full sized picture of a 403 on the Libert air conditioner,
       and/or cut the top off the Libert to give the size of a 407  ;-))

The story of a tab room and the 1401 is not complete unless there
     is a 403 in there !!


Who will pull all this (the above discussion)  together?
     Bill Worthington seemed to step up  :-))
Bill wishes a big picture of a real tab room,
      with key punches, sorters, collators, accounting machines, 519s,  ...
          sometimes they all co-existed with a basic 1401 system 
If you stay in the room you are now - 
     the big pictures could be on the approaches into the room.
   relative to Bill's "John Handcock Insurance" tabulating room.

Jim will work with collections to get pictures -

Many people feel you need to understand the unit record concept
   to understand the 1401 


CHM has a unique situation - it has a working demonstrable
  a) scientific computer, the PDP-1
          with few peripherals and lots of computing power
  b) a business machine, the IBM 1401
          with serious peripherals of and adequate computing power 
  c) a student orient IBM 1620

A difference between modern (32 bit) machines and the 1401 is
    that the modern machine can handle numbers up to 
     4 billion pennies - not even the California budget -
    without special programming
The 1401, with variable field (or "word") length could handle
    any sized number with ease and without special programming.
Look at the powers of 2 printout - basically a one card program,
   6 instructions.

Show people a plugboard, the 


While some people are keypunching,
    could others be getting the idea that this is really the data?
How to keep everyone engaged during this time???

How many people to demonstrate
   - a skilled operator, could help with the keypunching
   - a skilled docent, knows how to push buttons, but maybe not common faults, enables

Stan Paddock's "true story" - "weight of software" story as a weight contribution
    to an aircraft, all this capability and speed, limited by heavy penalties in contract
    to no more than ... pounds
     - finally convinced the weight administrator
    that the software was the holes in the cards, and no weight at all  :-))

Suggestion - figure how to need only two people to demonstrate the machine
    PDP-1 uses two people,  often need a "deep bench" of people who can do it,
    you never know who you will  be paired with.  A script helps everyone to
    get the fundamental details, even though people usually freeform their
    presentations - a basic script/knowledge is almost manditory.

How often do we make the presentation?  
    Could/should the restoration team be present.   The restoration team
    will be disrupted - lowers efficiency - lunch hour??
  Restoration/maintenance continues for ever
      share demo and maintenance?

Babbage will be demonstrated twice a day while it is present.
    The PDP-1 and 1401 less often - once/twice a week?

Question - Bill, do you have enough information to start?

Task assignments
    Mike and Bill work together to make "script"
Jim to make a contact list for this effort. 
    Video tape the demo - should be done for PDP-1 
      show how everything works
   and show this video outside the door when there is no presentation.
      DVD-player and flat screen - 
   and online web page?   Presentation on web page?   how much interactivity?

   1401 is maybe more visceral than the PDP-1 
         then we can take the demo anywhere - (not multiple languages)


Then a *big* discussion of should we play computer music - radio/printer ???
         |  real application    |   and what *really* 
         |  official excuse?    |     sold the machine   ;-))
PDP-1    |   boring scientific  |      big display and SpaceWar!
IBM 1410 |   boring payroll     |   printed girlie pictures & computer music

Proposal - video
   do the risky printer music once, and play video many  :-))

What about a tour on "hacking"???
    If DVD,   Hacking could be "Extras"  

Currently, kids are using cool technology 
 but the Cool is really the  social networking,
Maybe we can demonstrate the technology itself is Cool   ??   

A day in the like of a 1401 programmer??
   - flow chart
   - desk check
  not very exciting 

Teaching kids to programming this machine
   Ron Mak wants to teach,  great PR??
   We could offer ROPE to do it,
      and as a final reward run the final results on the
         real 1401  

We build the new machines on the rubble of the old -

Mike and Bill make the script

Reconvene in a month, Jim to look for a Wednesday -
Look forward to Beta Demo to Vintage Computer Festival
    PDP-1 was betaed at a previous VCF
   - give trash IBM cards to present CHM visitors -

------------- the end -  see you in a month -------------

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