NCR Computers of the 20th Century => Mainframes => Topic started by: jimbeard on March 07, 2008, 05:27:53 am

Title: CRAM
Post by: jimbeard on March 07, 2008, 05:27:53 am
I have always thought that had IBM first come up with CRAM, it would now be the industry standard rather than hard drive.  With all IBM's marketing power and third party support, CRAM would have evolved into something we couldn't have imagined.  Just think how far spinning disk drives have evolved from the tiny capacity drives of early on.

Title: Re: CRAM
Post by: Herb Fish on March 15, 2008, 11:27:25 am
Well Jim, I'm sorry to disagree with you, but I think you are way off base in your comparison of the two new "bleeding edge" technologies of the time.  While IBM was inventing spinning magnetic disk technology for a random access device, NCR was busy inventing a random access device that used magnetic cards.  Could you imagine your PC today using that technology instead of disk drives?  I don't think so.  I was a service man at Nationwide Insurance in Columbus, Ohio in 1966, and they had a room full of CRAM units.  Lets just say that they kept us busy.

The 353-1 was a nightmare to maintain.  We had to religiously perform PM on the loaders or you would get a double drop in a heartbeat.  Not to mention that it was a plumberís nightmare inside.  Blowers and vacuum motors, that great big capstan, the sensitive read/write head that required constant cleaning, 256 or 128 binaurally notched flimsy cards fanned out via air pressure over rotating rods.  I could go on and on.  No I don't think that technology could even begin to compare to a simple spinning disk.  The 353-2 and 353-3 were a little better, but they still couldn't hold a candle to the IBM 360 disk drive.

Our marketing folks gave it the name CRAM, which was an acronym for Card Random Access Memory.  CRAM was not their original name.  They were first going to call it a Card Random Access Processor, but then thought better of it.  Nuff said...

Herb Fish

Title: Re: CRAM
Post by: JimT on March 16, 2008, 04:44:42 am
The CRAM was never intended to compete with disk storage.  Itís price/performance range was between disk and tape units.  My first project at NCR in late 1964 was going over the design and checking out the first prototypes of the 353-2.  The biggest challenge I remember on the 353-2 and later units was card tab wear.  The unit was definitely complicated.