Questions tagged [early-computer]

Tagging questions about early computers and their design. Computers from before the standards set by the IBM /360 (of 1964) became canon.

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20
votes
8answers
3k views

Do the holes in Jacquard loom punched cards represent input data or program code?

I think they represent data because I feel it is a mechanical machine which is fully configured and the holes decide only that the thread related to each hole must be moved or not. Thus the holes ...
1
vote
1answer
186 views

What early computers were only able to print numbers?

According to this paper (translation), one of the early soviet machines, M-1, was only able to print decimal, and not alphabetical numbers. Which other early electronic stored program computers (i.e. ...
3
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4answers
367 views

What is the first (say early) use of switches (mechanical or electromechanical) for sake of processing (like automatic motor control)simple data?

Switches are intended for just turning ON or OFF the power supply by either closing or opening the circuit. I often wonder how does mankind got idea to use these switch for sake of processing (simple ...
3
votes
1answer
265 views

Was UCLA's 1948 Mechanical Computer programmable, or merely a calculator?

We define programmable machines as those that can do: sequence selection, and iteration ie the Turing Model of Computing. Here we see the UCLA's 1948 Mechanical Computer performing a calculation. ...
16
votes
1answer
3k views

Do we know the problems the University of Manchester's Transistor Computer was intended to solve?

We can see that the University of Manchester built a transistor computer in 1952. This appears to have been the first transistor computer. We can see that the design was used in the Metrovick 950. ...
9
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2answers
408 views

What is the difference between CTSS and ITS?

I learned from the history of Multics that in the early days of computers, Time Sharing System (TSS) was used at MIT, and then Compatible Time Sharing System (CTSS) was developed in 1961, also at MIT. ...
4
votes
1answer
187 views

IBM 650 - how many logic gates?

How many logic gates did the IBM 650 have? I'm used to measuring the complexity of a CPU by transistor count, but the 650 was a vacuum tube machine; the number of tubes would also be an interesting ...
43
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2answers
5k views

Why did the IBM 650 use bi-quinary?

The IBM 650, announced in 1953, was the world's first mass-produced computer. It represented numbers in decimal, which is understandable, both because it needed to work with exact money amounts, and ...
12
votes
1answer
365 views

How were Zuse Z22 Instructions Encoded?

The title says it all: How to En-/Decode Z22/Z23 Instructions? (History and Linkage: The question was raised by Wilson in a comment on my answer to his question "Why are PDP-7-style microprogrammed ...
5
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3answers
217 views

How does the floating point conversion in Zuse's machines work?

Can someone please help me understand the floating point to readable decimal conversion algorithms of the Z1 and Z3? There is a patent in German containing all the information but I can't speak German....
26
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3answers
4k views

Why does an instruction include the address of the next instruction on the IBM 650?

The IBM 650 seems to be a load-store machine. One advantage of a load-store machine is that the instruction can be shorter because there's less pressure to pack more information into it. But the IBM ...
10
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3answers
983 views

What is the instruction set of the Z4?

I am able to find a few instructions, such as: Fin (presumably "Fine", as in the end of a musical score, ends a program), Fin', (a conditional Fin), St (possibly "Start" -- the need for this is ...