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Author Topic: 40th Anniversary of the 615-100  (Read 15722 times)
JimT
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« on: January 17, 2008, 07:31:06 pm »

In a post in the “Meaning of the Storage and Process” section Katsuhiko Hirai-san mentioned that 2008 is the 40th anniversary of the 615-100.  That reminded me of the details of that release.  Although it was early in my career, I was the Unit Manager for the 615-100.  March 15, 2008 will be exactly 40 years since the first press announcement releasing that product.  Below are a few of my memories from that time frame.

For me that release was unforgettable for several reasons.  We were working on that system (615-100) up to the last minute not knowing if we could get the memory to work error free long enough for the demo.  The 655 disk flying head problems had not yet been discovered and it appeared to be working pretty well.  However, the rod memory design was still maturing.  We were so concerned about memory failures that we had a blind hallway behind the system (on the test floor) that had a complete core memory system that could be cabled in if necessary.  Somewhere between midnight and 2:00 AM of March 15th we thought we had the system running pretty well.   We were concerned about the core memory system being discovered, so we moved it out so it could not be used or seen.  The demo was at 9:00 AM and it went quite well, and then the “party” moved on to the Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles.  By that time I had worked so hard and so long that I became quite sick.  Another person had to go to the hotel in my place, and that would have been the fun part of the release for me.  At the same time my 11 month old son had come down with pneumonia and was in the hospital, so it was especially hectic for me.  We were quite proud that we were able to pull off the demo error free.  Another tidbit – They were making movies of the 615-100 for advertising before we had a complete production prototype running.  They wanted to film it in Kansas City in early December.  I spent my 1967 Thanksgiving holiday weekend making a dummy system.  The only real parts were the printer and the disk.  I wired the card reader escapement magnet to the card reader Power On switch on the console.  That made the reader feed cards any time the switch was on, even if the hopper was empty.  Every time I saw that movie I got nervous as the hopper got low because I knew it would keep feeding.  To make the unit look like it was running I took the outputs of the printer code wheel and ran them into the console display lights.  The processor bay was completely empty and the memory bay had a very small backpanel with a couple of 4”x4” cards in it.  They were only for driving the printer logic signals to the console lights.  The movie came out quite well.  My frustration was that after spending my personal time getting the system running they ended up sending a disk engineer to support the system for the filming.  I would like to have made that trip.  That unit became our third and last pre-production prototype.

Old war stories!
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NEXUS
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Posts: 19


« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2008, 10:42:08 pm »

What a story, Jim!

When I took over the site maintenance for the first 615-100 in Athens in 1969, I didn’t know which “Unit Manager” to blame for the hectic hours spent to make the Rod Memory running!

I remember the standard procedure I was applying after an ME (Memory Error):  Strip the memory down, remove the plastic rods connecting the arrays, clean them, and clean them again, with alcohol, to remove any gold dust from the connectors. Then, margin the memory, and it was working error free until its next failure!

Jim, your post in this Forum, is really a very good piece of history from the “Old Wars” days!


In a post in the “Meaning of the Storage and Process” section Katsuhiko Hirai-san mentioned that 2008 is the 40th anniversary of the 615-100.  That reminded me of the details of that release.  Although it was early in my career, I was the Unit Manager for the 615-100.  March 15, 2008 will be exactly 40 years since the first press announcement releasing that product.  Below are a few of my memories from that time frame.

For me that release was unforgettable for several reasons.  We were working on that system (615-100) up to the last minute not knowing if we could get the memory to work error free long enough for the demo.  The 655 disk flying head problems had not yet been discovered and it appeared to be working pretty well.  However, the rod memory design was still maturing.  We were so concerned about memory failures that we had a blind hallway behind the system (on the test floor) that had a complete core memory system that could be cabled in if necessary.  Somewhere between midnight and 2:00 AM of March 15th we thought we had the system running pretty well.   We were concerned about the core memory system being discovered, so we moved it out so it could not be used or seen.  The demo was at 9:00 AM and it went quite well, and then the “party” moved on to the Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles.  By that time I had worked so hard and so long that I became quite sick.  Another person had to go to the hotel in my place, and that would have been the fun part of the release for me.  At the same time my 11 month old son had come down with pneumonia and was in the hospital, so it was especially hectic for me.  We were quite proud that we were able to pull off the demo error free.  Another tidbit – They were making movies of the 615-100 for advertising before we had a complete production prototype running.  They wanted to film it in Kansas City in early December.  I spent my 1967 Thanksgiving holiday weekend making a dummy system.  The only real parts were the printer and the disk.  I wired the card reader escapement magnet to the card reader Power On switch on the console.  That made the reader feed cards any time the switch was on, even if the hopper was empty.  Every time I saw that movie I got nervous as the hopper got low because I knew it would keep feeding.  To make the unit look like it was running I took the outputs of the printer code wheel and ran them into the console display lights.  The processor bay was completely empty and the memory bay had a very small backpanel with a couple of 4”x4” cards in it.  They were only for driving the printer logic signals to the console lights.  The movie came out quite well.  My frustration was that after spending my personal time getting the system running they ended up sending a disk engineer to support the system for the filming.  I would like to have made that trip.  That unit became our third and last pre-production prototype.

Old war stories!

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JimT
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Posts: 36


« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2008, 12:54:01 am »

NEXUS - I was the UM for the system, but I was not specifically responsible for the rod memory, the disk or the printer.  The exceptions are that I was responsible for the EMI core memory replacement in the event that we could not get the rod memory running acceptably.  The issues you were dealing with would probably have been handled by either Paul Higashi or Herb Lee.  I just played bridge with Herb last night.  He has been retired since 1994.  As I recall there was a redesign of the rod memory that got released in the early 70's that significantly improved both reliability and manufacturability.  If you ever saw any released prints for the 615-100 then it is probable that my signature was on them.  I moved on about 1971 to develop what at the time was called the 615-101.  I believe the first release actually became the 615-151, but by the time it was released I had moved on to some other development projects.
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JimT
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Posts: 36


« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2008, 08:03:06 pm »

I stand corrected on the exact date.  I was looking in the archives and it listed March 5th as the date of the press release.  I went back through some old newsletters in our library and confirmed that it was in fact March 5th, not March 15th.
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JimT
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« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2008, 05:26:53 pm »

In going through the old newsletters I found a page on the 615-100 launch of March 5, 1968.  I had to copy the picture in two pieces, and the left edge is distorted due to it being in a bound book.  This first one is the top half of the page.  I will send higher resolution pictures to the webmaster for posting in the Gallery.
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JimT
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« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2008, 05:29:04 pm »

This is the lower half of the page.  I also sent in some pictures of an open house that took place in RB in 1969.  They should appear in the gallery in the near future.
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Aleksandrs Guba
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Posts: 82


« Reply #6 on: March 04, 2008, 09:46:19 pm »

Pictures, taken at an Open House in Rancho Bernardo, CA on September 21, 1969, along with the short comment compiled, have been placed at the new page "The Gallery/Events Illustrated" of the site.

Enjoy!
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JimT
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« Reply #7 on: March 05, 2008, 12:56:45 am »

Thank you Aleksandrs.
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Aleksandrs Guba
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Posts: 82


« Reply #8 on: March 05, 2008, 09:43:05 pm »

Dear forum members and visitors!

I've prepared special issue, dedicated to the 40th anniversary of the NCR 615-100 launch, from the material, provided by Jim Taylor, and posted it to the "The Gallery/Events Illustrated" page of the site as "Century Series Introduced to Press on March 5, 1968". This is my small contribution to that outstanding event in the history of NCR computers of the 20th century.

Enjoy!
« Last Edit: March 05, 2008, 09:45:32 pm by Aleksandrs Guba » Logged
NEXUS
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Posts: 19


« Reply #9 on: March 06, 2008, 11:25:48 am »

Congratulations to the Core memory Administrator for the Special Issue dedicated to the 40th Anniversary of the Century Series release, and of course we must thank Jim Taylor for the original material he has provided.

As Jim writes in his story, on that Sunday of September 21, 1969, an Open House took place in Rancho Bernardo.  I was in Dayton at that time for a very long training on the 615 Systems; to read 39 years later what was going on in RB on that day, surely wakes up memories!

Emmanuel



Dear forum members and visitors!

I've prepared special issue, dedicated to the 40th anniversary of the NCR 615-100 launch, from the material, provided by Jim Taylor, and posted it to the "The Gallery/Events Illustrated" page of the site as "Century Series Introduced to Press on March 5, 1968". This is my small contribution to that outstanding event in the history of NCR computers of the 20th century.

Enjoy!
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