Back in 1981, my high school's computer classes were something like Computer Programming I and II, which taught BASIC on the Apple ][+, and a Computer Programming III class.

In the III class, a couple of the more advanced students including me used some big IBM terminals to learn some Fortran (WATFIV) over a modem dialed in to a nearby university, but the rest of the class learned COBOL.

The machines they used were basically desks, with the computer built in. They had green CRTs embedded in them such that you looked down past the keyboard at the screen. I believe each had an 8" floppy drive to the side, where desk drawers would be. What would these machines have been? (I suspect they were from IBM, but I'm not at all sure)

  • Which country was this in?
    – DrSheldon
    Commented Jun 6, 2019 at 20:16
  • @drsheldon US, Michigan
    – LAK
    Commented Jun 6, 2019 at 20:18
  • 1
    Are you sure it wasn't just a fancy computer desk that allowed a rather standard computer and CRT to be placed below the desk? I recall a period when this CRT under the desk trend was considered more ergonomic.
    – Brian H
    Commented Jun 6, 2019 at 21:48
  • @BrianH I'm fairly sure it was designed as a complete, integrated thing - i.e. not some sort of aftermarket desk.
    – LAK
    Commented Jun 7, 2019 at 1:51
  • This sounds like something I once saw, but never got to examine up close. Looked like a steel desk with a monitor/keyboard built into it, and enormous disk drives too. I'd only ever seen 5.25" floppies before, these were definitely the first 8” ones I ever saw. The screen was green monochrome and must have been 80x25, impressive compared to the only other computer I'd seen until then, a TRS80 mod 1. So naturally I asked what it was, and was told it was a 'Wang' of some kind.
    – JustJeff
    Commented Feb 5, 2021 at 0:52

2 Answers 2


Might it have been an IBM 3741 data station? It was basically a desk with a built-in keyboard and floppy drive (the first IBM product to use read-write diskettes), with a CRT off to the side. Here's a site with a picture:


enter image description here

  • I think that may be it, thanks! Now that I see the pictures, the little turret-thing for the monitor looks familiar.
    – LAK
    Commented Jun 7, 2019 at 13:35

Possibly a TRS-80 Model II? That would fit with the previous mention of using consumer-class machines for the students. There was also a version of Microsoft COBOL available.

  • 2
    Which Model II was built into the desk? The page you linked describes only desk-top models. Commented Jun 7, 2019 at 13:11
  • Thanks. I never actually used the machines myself, but my memory says they were from IBM, which matches the other answer better.
    – LAK
    Commented Jun 9, 2019 at 3:48

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