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John's 1401 Memories - Endicott


John L. Pokoski

John L. Pokoski was born in St. Louis, Missouri on June 19, 1937. He received a BSEE from St. Louis University Cum Laude in 1959, an MSE from Arizona State University in 1965, and a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Montana State University in 1967. From 1959-1963 he was with the IBM Product Development Laboratory in Endicott, NY, where he was involved in the design and development of small, general purpose computers. In the summers of 1971 and 1972 he was a NASA Faculty Fellow at the Marshall Space Flight Center and the Goddard Space Flight Center. He was a Visiting Professor of Electrical Engineering at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh Scotland in 1977 and a Visiting Scholar at the University of Arizona in 1995. From 1967 to 2002 he was a member of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of New Hampshire, serving as Chairman from 1985-1994. He has published twenty-four professional papers, has been a member of many professional and honorary organizations, and has received several awards and honors.


My first job out of college (June 1959) was on the 1401 project at Endicott’s Glendale Lab. Fran Underwood was my immediate supervisor and Jim Ingram "held my card". At that point, the basic machine had been designed but the optional features were still on the drawing boards. The first engineering model was in the process of being constructed and debugged. I was green as grass and my very first assignments involved learning the system, drafting, and technical writing. Soon I was involved with debugging the system, particularly the second model, which also included optional features, and generating the necessary engineering changes. My prime responsibility was "expanded arithmetic" (multiply/divide). Later, I was involved with M/D redesign and testing, and other options such as process overlap and Sterling arithmetic. I generated documentation for the manual writers and taught several classes for customer engineers. As the system progressed, I mentored the testers on the 1401 lines in Endicott (North St.) and later helped the production line get started in San Jose. I also made numerous field trips to aid customer engineers stuck on tough bugs and to install major engineering changes. After three years on the 1401 I spent a year on development of an optical card reader after which I left IBM for academia. This was an exciting time in my professional life and the wide range of experiences that I had at IBM was invaluable to me in my teaching career.