I came across this little machine in a roundabout fashion - 4kW of RAM and 1usec cycle for "under $10,000"! (not including ASR33)

It seems this is largely lost to history. Does anyone know what this machine was made for (it seems all too similar to many other systems of the era, why bother?) and if there are any notable uses? I suspect they built it for internal uses?

Some of their marketing suggests there is a "700 series" of which the 704 is a single member, but if there are any other members of the line they are definitely lost in time.

The only reason I heard of it was that I talked to Rick Loomis some time ago and he mentioned this was the machine he bought to run Flying Buffalo.

UPDATES: Apparently there was a 706, but I can find no details. In the meantime:


  • 3
    Ooh, hardware multiply and divide
    – OmarL
    Sep 22 at 15:40
  • 3
    From the information I found (Google "raytheon 704 minicomputer"), it seems that this was built for general automation tasks. Things you would perhaps nowadays do with a single-chip controller.
    – chthon
    Sep 22 at 16:45
  • @JoelReyesNoche: I suppose it should mean 4 kilo Words...
    – chthon
    Sep 23 at 9:33
  • @chthon thanks for the clarification. Sep 23 at 13:40
  • In the early 1970's, there was a Raytheon 704 in the corner of the computer room at Rolls-Royce Derby Engine Division (where they made and tested jet engines). I never saw it being used (except by me to learn machine code programming). Probably it was used occasionally, but certainly not very often. The main computer was a Raytheon 520 (discrete germanium transistors!) which collected and analysed data from the engine test rigs. I was part of the repair & maintenance crew there.
    – NL_Derek
    Sep 26 at 21:09

According to the Raytheon 704 Technical Manual:

The processor may be used as the control element for data acquisition, data processing, and system control. (p. 1-1, section 1-7)

An example of something you could do with this class of computer would be automating the control of a fresh water treatment plant, starting and stopping pumps as needed to keep water levels and pressures correct, monitoring various equipment for alarm conditions such as over-temperature, and so on. Among the list of peripherals available were ones that you would need to interface the computer to the world in order to measure and control things, listed on p. 1-4:

  • Buffered digital output channel (e.g. starting pumps)
  • Buffered digital input channel (e.g. is that pump running?)
  • Digital to analog converter (e.g. what speed should a motor run at?)
  • Digital plotter controller (e.g. make graphs of water pressure over time)
  • 3
    There were lots of process-control minis kicking round in the 1970s. I suspect every vendor had to have one :-) Sep 22 at 22:42
  • 1
    Digital process control started at the tail end of the 1950s. Computer vendors all came out with systems tailored for that market (think about how many processes there are that need control). By the mid-to-late 1970s, there was a realization that no one really wanted to program control systems, and that packaged programmable systems were the path to the future. Distributed Control Systems (DCSes, like Honeywell's TDC-2000) and Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) took over the market. But control-oriented mini systems were a big thing for nearly a decade
    – Flydog57
    Sep 23 at 18:09

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