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 Tape Log   - 1401 demonstration meeting March 21, 2007   10:30

Present: John Toole, Kirsten Tashev, Dag Spicer, Jim Somers, Jim McClure, Bob ?Fraly?
Presenters: Robert Garner, Ed Thelen

I, the transcriber, have taken considerable artistic license :-|
     -  mostly "embellishing" the truth

Because of the limited fidelity of the tape recording, and my ears,
   no attempt is made to identify the speakers 
   - probably advisable in brain-storming?
   The use of the word "I" is the following transcription
      usually does *not* indicate the transcriber.
The dialog was intense - contributions from all over, constantly

   This is the second in a presumed series of discussions
       about effective means/techniques of presenting
       the 1401 to Museum visitors -
     the first was to Senior Docents
     this meeting to/with "senior management"


Thank you for arranging the meeting

  so Ed, my right and left hand assistant ...
     is head of the ?one? person demo committee

What the demo might look like - the demo of the 1401

   I'd like to have another meeting about Grant's ideas
     about how to tie in the 1401 roll-out 
     with maybe the anniversary of the IBM 1401 announcement
         November 2009 
     Thats a topic for another meeting

Maybe by that time the machine will be more reliable
   - maybe the time line will be available by then -
I haven't broached the subject with the guys at IBM yet -

Get us  all on the same page -

Our current goal of the 1401 team is "fixing" the machine to working order.
If someone wants to repaint the machine later - that is another topic -

There are two "systems" in the 1401 room-
   a) much of a "tab" room with key punches, sorter, merger,
           missing only the accounting/printing machine such as a 407
       In a tab room, the various processes of say a billing operation are
           very visible - sorting, merging, accounting machine printing

   b) a complete 1401 system, with tapes, which replaced everything
         in a) above except the key punches.
       The above processes are largely hidden in the computer program.

The previous discussion with senior docents had suggested
   that the two systems (above) be demonstrated separately
   because of the time and attention span required.

People around the museum have been pressing for demonstrations
   of working unit record equipment. 

Demonstrations are very engaging for the visitor, a great teaching tool, 
      fun to watch, ability to engage the visitor.
Maybe 3 or 4 (tab) machines could be running on the time line.
   Maybe a non-working 1401 on the time line?

The working 1401 system could be our museum's Van de Graaff generator
    more of a diorama and its a show.
The PDP-1 might be on the time line, and some restored micros -

The 1401 could be its own show - off the lobby - needs more space.

The time line will have lots of interactive, computer interactives 
   lots of WOW factor.

Lets think the working 1401 in its space,
    the unit record equipment in another space -


Present 1401 display capability
    the "big print" printout - similar to 

Plan - to have 3 keypunches with the working 1401 for each visitor
    to use to keypunch his/her name into an IBM card.

This IBM card, punched by the visitor, is inserted into a program/data deck
   and run through the 1401 and printed as above.

What is more dramatic?

We have been thinking of ideas, not about sequencing yet.

We could also have a face - could the 1401 handle a low resolution camera
  to make the face of a guest?
  (With 16,000 characters of memory - the pixels would be maybe
      125 x 125 - Hmmmm - but a lot of printer art was in that range -
     - maybe not in period/era ??? 

Key punching - takes a little familiarization to control the flow

We had been thinking of gathering all the visitor punched cards,
  sorting them by first field, and printing a group  of printouts
  without reloading the program deck each time.

Birthdate - print out other people born on that date of the year,
     or born in that year.

When the RAMAC was introduced at the Brussels World's Fair,
    people would ask a question and the computer would
    come back with great events in history (sometimes religious).
    And in 12 languages.

We can 

The visitor will have to know who all these people are,
    public figures - famous people - 
    the visitor might not know Don Knuth - who is this guy??
You guys should approve the names - 
   nobody wants to know they were born the same year as Adolph Hitler.

Maybe do 75 years - ?? 50 characters per year times 75 years 
  is only 3750 characters - easily fits into current 8,000 character memory -
    yes we could do it -

How do we get from this silly program to what the machine really did??

First phase is to explain the 

Relate to parts of current PC??
   open it up, show the parts,
   memory stick (gigabytes) vs our 1406 box (12,000 characters)
     the memory stick has 75,000 times more capacity than the 1406 box

Don't mock the past with these comparison.
    They don't make them like they used to.

Who had this machine, and what did they use it for?
   Could you do a case study??
   Which company used it for what?
   Maybe like Arnold who owned this machine before us -
       it was used at an insurance company?
       and when taken out of service, 
       Arnold got it and opened a little service bureau -
             did payrole for small companies for 10 years -

What about the 1401s used as print spoolers
   (and card readers) for faster machines?
I sometimes talk about that when I have a 7090 next to a 1401
   I can explain how it works -

What was the ratio of 
   1401 as a business processor
   1401 as a peripheral buffer, card to tape, tape to printer
Out of the 20,000 1401s sold how many were used
     as peripheral devices?
How many 7090s were there?
    How many 1401s to service a 7090?

I think the majority of 1401 were used in standalone
   business applications -

Father / son update
   have printer print out 
  run the  cards against the tape and create a new  one 
  and at the same time you can be printing out 
     some  kind of reports.

Are you volunteering to program this?

We have a wonderful simulator available
    1401 Software Development
and by the way we can't compile a program yet -
   and to get an object deck we have to ship the code (by e-mail)
   to Cardamation in Pennsylvania -
Once it runs in the emulator, it will run in our 1401
[ All better now :-)) ]

Do we have software for this 1401 from other business?
  If we had software and data cards we could demo that -
Could you join our team??   We need you !!

We will have to talk to Al Kossow - the software currator -
    about that
What I'm talking about is your basic father/son update programming
   you've got yesterday's tape, today's transaction cards,
      you make the new tape - and so you go from day-to-day
    each day updates the previous day's tape

You can show how to do the electric billing -
   the meter reader comes by, the detail cards get punched,
     and that gets played against the master tape

How many people running the job?
There is one guy running it, but others are preparing
  card deck for example - so the cards are coming 
  from some kind of accounting group which takes
  today's records and punches them into cards
The operator takes the cards, knows what the job is
   mounts the father tape and a blank tape 
   and runs the job through

I have an idea -
There is a whole interpretive movement in museums
   actually 20 years old - 
there is theatrical and (first person? ...)
    it has been done in history exhibits.
 All of a sudden there is this psychotic director
    casting a part for  this play -
    people get chosen to play parts
        and he's got an assistant
        it is really very effective
The stage is dark, the lights come up and 
  this person comes in from accounting
    there is this guy who is running it 
      who is a bit grumpy
  and thing always gets jammed
    and he starts talking to the audience
  and the lights change and he turn into an explainer
    and not the first person any more
You have to hire an actor
  No you don't
Hire a psychotic staffer - that is a lot easier
  everyone in this group qualifies


Ron Mak - head of the software group - about 4  
   and you are invited to join
is just dying to get on the hardware -
Ron wants to have a programming class where
   people actually write little programs 

Maybe a summer came
  That is a way to get one of these programs
    created and working
There is not a lot of original 1401 software available

We could definitely put together a plan which
   can get better and better with time -

I was working at a hospital in Denver 
       and they pulled in a 360
   there was one guy who kept writing 1401 AutoCoder programs
       ran AutoCoder (a 1401 assembler)
   in emulation mode - to make new 1401 programs
      to run on the 360 in 1401 emulation mode
Eight years later I went back and they were still writing them
How many years ago was that?
   About 1979 - much laughter - still writing AutoCoder
I wonder how many AutoCoder programs are still running

Oh - I just thought of another theater thing
  There is this salesman selling this machine to the audience
     saying all of these things
    and you get a couple of ads from the time,
       functionality,  enlarged -
   Bill Selmeier where are you
Then the operator comes in and he is cussing
    what is it going to take for you to buy this today
  Then at the end the operator can kill the salesman -

One more demo we can add to this -
  we can take a box of cards - with this nice diagonal line
    lift it up to put it into the card sorter
    and have it fall - and do a floor sort

So this can lead up to the alternate demo
   theater stage - talk to them about ideas
   tape cart moving 


As a point of reality,
There are folks downstairs who worry that this 1401
  will never be as reliable as they were  known to be -
Transistor leads corroded so badly as to finally open -
   has the corrosion stopped or merely slowed? 
   We don't know -

Let me talk about the status -
  Functionally everything we need to run the simple demos works
     "Works" means works at least once a day
   Temperature sensitive
There are about 3,000 cards in the machine
   We found 100 bad cards
     amortized over 40 years, that isn't bad -
We have gone from totally non-functional
   to functional
  Until we get the last problem out of the machine
   we won't know what the new failure rate is -
We have gone backwards only once or twice -
  So until we get the new failure rate
    we won't know how robust the machine is
    from a demo perspective.

Let me talk about the environment -
   this machine was stored essentially outdoors
   and the humidity in Germany is very high
Here we don't have that, and less corrosive elements -

I am trying to get some of my younger friends 
   to work on a card tester - asking the volunteers
   to find one out of a hundred cards
     signal levels
   is too much -
A semi-automated card tester

We have a card extender to aid current trouble shooting.

One card of a hundred failed in the past 40 years -

May have to take the 1402 down for a month for a more
   complete overhaul - at Grant's


What do you want to accomplish in the next 15 minutes?

Rewrite the demo script to include these new ideas
     - birthdays
stage one
     this (?big print?) plus the ideas we have heard
stage two
     simple acting to make it more lively
stage three
     real accounting demonstration

Noise issues
   -  50 Hz power converter fairly noisy
   - the Liebert air conditioner is very noisy -
        we often turn it off so we can hear ourselves think

   usually the air conditioners were external to the old computer rooms
      the compressors, heat exchangers, circulating fans not in room
   we have our own fan noise from the fans in the equipment
      Printer is noiser than anything
        but in a demo that would be limited

We may need a loud speaker, head phone 
    how about a Madonna head set?
We have a tube amplifier 
    35 watts of power

We have CD-Roms and DVDs of sights and sounds
    which *really* need editing
What would you use them for?
    when things don't work - 
If we have a demo scheduled, and things don't work
   we can show them movies -

We have an extremely high resolution digital/audio recording unit now
    196 kilo (bits/bytes) per second - in the humming bird range
and if you wanted to record your own sounds -
    something for the visitor experience

Editing - Do you have a MAC?
   no, but a MAC would be useful -
   put is on the shelf for now?

Music, sounds
RFI (Radio Frequency Interference)
   AM radio on top of the 1401,
  some guy in Iceland - we don't have the program
Everyone ran it, 
   we can't find the source code for it
Maybe you could write the program??
The printer music we want to avoid,
    might break the chain - we are short of spares
We can get them to agree to do it once -
   you bring down your 192 bit equipment

Run the printer "music" and say
   that's it folks, end of the show  :-))

AM radio is much better

Did you guys listen to the NPR interview yet - no
The only thing on that CD is the 1403,
    all the rest sounds like whales

I am going to see if the San Jose Symphony will perform this
    in conjunction with the Computer History Museum
that would be a big PR event -

We can put the AM radio on top (of the 1401) and
   put it through the amplifier
   and we could play music at the end
  What tune do you want to play?

Now we get a comparison/competition between the
   1401 and PDP-1 sound
One of us will talk to Ken (Summeral)
Happy Birthday, find out what year
    or something silly like
    Chiquata Banana,  Sound of Music, Beatles?
  context of its time,  charts, 1959, what was hot?

  Elvis Presley ?

How often can we get volunteers to come to demo?
   once every two weeks?

When can we start ?
    Every two weeks
   Alternate between PDP-1 and 1401

When can we start?
   Birthday lookup program
      who can we get to find interesting birthdays?

At least a month with no failures - 


Reconvene in a month -  May ?
   Same people, plus Grant and Mike Cheponis

OK - chow!!

- - - - - - - - - 

Later "Random Access"  ;-))

You should explain *why* the key punch,
   this was not the era of one person one computer
This was also the era of batch processing
   no disc for quick access

There were whole rooms full of keypunches
  talk about noisy!!  

So that the card reader that can go through 4,000 cards
can be kept busy, and the very expensive machine
    can be kept busy

There is a message buried in the fact that the keypunch is there!
   and if you are 
      slip into the script
     the meter readers collected the data,
     data concentrated by the keypunchers,
      and concentrated into the once a day/week/month batch process

One of placed I worked, even the programmers didn't keypunch
    write onto coding forms and pass them to  the keypuncher
 Even into the 1980s

I was hoping to farm out  the actual script generation to the docents 

- end of tape -


Next meeting - May -

 I, the transcriber, invite this group to visit the 1401
       on a Wednesday
  for say 1/2 hour for an informal tour and increased familiarization
    with the sights, sounds, possibilities of the 1401 -
   and keypunch a card  ;-))  - before the next meeting -
(And the troops would *love* the attention from the Museum !!!)
(And Reduce the "them" vs "us" tendency.)