PDA

View Full Version : ERMA Bank of America 1958



Dolk
September 5th, 2011, 09:38 AM
I have a couple boards from the ERMA computer. I also have a letter authenticating they are real and the emblem from ERMA 1. I was wondering if they would have any value? I don't think we would part with them, but I need to know if I should insure them or are they of little value.

ERMA was the first Banking computer and was Bank of America. My Father in law was on the first team formed in the 50's. James Carey. He was the one that helped design the special ink and readers for checking. We also have an original manual and code booklet (pocket sized).

Dolk

Chuck(G)
September 5th, 2011, 12:33 PM
Have you been to BofA's museum in Concord (CA)? They've got a very complete ERMA system set up as an exhibit there. I'd probably contact them to see if they're interested.

Dolk
September 5th, 2011, 08:45 PM
I live in Concord. That computer in Concord was rebuilt but no one knew how exactly it worked or programed. They had no information on it. I was asked to clean out my Mother In Laws garage about 7 years after her husban James Carey passed away. I was cleaning it up and ran across a box of PC boards with transistors on it. They were printed with the date 1958 (I think) and I realized that was pretty early. I know Jim used to scrounge old computer equipment for his electronics hobby. I called BoA museum curator in SF and he came out immediatly. I kept 4 boards and turned the other 20 or so boards over to him. They used those to put in the ERMA over in Concord. They were also very happy to get copies of the original instructions and a small pocket code book my father in law carried for a few years.

We also have the original emblem for that ERMA that is in Concord. It was put in a scrap book and given to Jim when he retired from B of A.

Dolk

dclark_erma
June 2nd, 2014, 01:00 PM
I too have an ERMA board. This one has tubes in it and was the SRI proof of concept version which predated the GE production system that had transitors.

I have met with SRI historical team and we are pulling our records and artifacts together in hopes of better telling the story of ERMA.

My interest in this is that my father (C.B. Clark) worked on the project and held patents. And so I wound up with some parts.

dclark_erma
June 2nd, 2014, 01:02 PM
Chuck.
I'm working with the SRI historical society on an ERMA projects. We have a number of artifacts ranging from a 18941 this ERMA module to early samples of MICR.

Do you happen to know who the curator at the museum is?

dclark_erma
June 2nd, 2014, 01:03 PM
whoops - here is a picture of the module that i have.18942

Dave

dclark_erma
June 2nd, 2014, 01:06 PM
second try at posting (now logged in).

I am working with SRI historical society. I have one of these ERMA modules which is vacuum tube based (this was R&D) and not transistor (GE version). I would like to understand how you donated this artifact. Do you have the name of the curator at BofA by chance?
18943

Dave Clark
San Mateo, CA

dclark_erma
June 2nd, 2014, 01:08 PM
I also have an ERMA module (this one with vacuum tubes) and am working with SRI on their ERMA collection. Do you happen to know who the curator at BofA in Concord is?

18944

Dolk
June 3rd, 2014, 05:30 PM
It has been some time since I have been in contact with the BofA Museum Curator in SF. We live in Concord, CA where the only ERMA is located on the ground floor of the BofA building there. I will have to dig into my safe to pull the letter I have from them when I donated all the boards. As I said, they were missing boards and could not fire it up after they restored it. The person who was commissioned to find anything about the missing ERMA computers (which there was more than one ERMA) was Al Ziff (I think that was his name. He was retired by then. He was the lead person in charge of ERMA when it came to the Bank and my Father in law worked under him from the beginning. They had no idea how it was going to be used and that was their first project. Al found the only remaining ERMA in a BofA warehouse I think in Plesanton, CA. Then organized the project to restore it. The other 5 were destroyed.

There are many interesting stories when they first started and some of them were funny also. Al Ziff and two others of the original 6 spoke at my father in laws funeral and they had some very interesting things to say about it. Those guys stayed friend for many years.

My Father In Law was tasked (after the initial settling in) with working with the people that formulated the magnetic ink used on the checks so ERMA could read them. Also the "special" font. He also was in at the ground floor of BankAmericaCard which was the beginning of Visa.

He went on to also work with the Big IBM computers that took the place of ERMA later on.

He had a massive heart attack and had to retire. When he retired, he had well over a years of vacation and sick leave that he never took over the years. Back then, they could "bank" sick leave, and he worked for BofA well before WWII. After the war (he had two bronze stars), he returned to BofA.

I have seen modules of the prototype computer that became ERMA. In fact, My Father in Law was very much into electronics as a hobby. He had many parts from old computers that he stripped parts off of 9what a shame now!). I remember seeing a memory core with dozens of wires with little ferrid beads where the wires crossed. Maybe IBM????


Any way, I will look in the next few days and see if I can pull the letter from BofA.

Jim Carey was my Father in Law.

Beerhunter
June 4th, 2014, 12:34 AM
I remember seeing a memory core with dozens of wires with little ferrid beads where the wires crossed. Maybe IBM????

Core memory was very much an IBM innovation. Even though not invented by IBM, IBM bought the patents and set up automated lines to produce "core store", as it was often known back then. (IBM used the term "storage" rather than the later term "memory" e.g. ROS - Read Only Storage rather then ROM.) IIRC, it was first used by IBM in the computers for SAGE.

Dolk
June 4th, 2014, 06:48 PM
Core memory was very much an IBM innovation. Even though not invented by IBM, IBM bought the patents and set up automated lines to produce "core store", as it was often known back then. (IBM used the term "storage" rather than the later term "memory" e.g. ROS - Read Only Storage rather then ROM.) IIRC, it was first used by IBM in the computers for SAGE.

That is probably what I saw. It was a long time ago (maybe 1968 or so) and he had a bunch of it. He had a lot of old parts off old computer in his garage. He and I both loved electronics and made a lot of projects back then. I remember a lot of "nixie tubes" also. And jars of GE transistors (probably from ERMA also). I wish we had kept a lot of that stuff way back then after he passed away.

randyw
May 8th, 2017, 02:54 PM
I know this is an old thread but, I wanted to pass on some info I know. I was the Field Services Manager for Bank of America and I was the team leader on the ERMA restoration that is in Concord. The unit in building "d" is just a smaller portion of the overall machine and support equipment. Building "c" was the original install location that was renamed "Al Ziff Building". Al came to SRI from the bank with a problem that he has some ideas that he thought SRI could help solve. For restoration, we had everything EXCEPT the core memory which was missing, probably due to the gold content and sticky fingers. I have lots of pictures if needed and I attend the March 21, 2001 Weldon B. Gibson Achievement Award ceremony. Another fairly complete ERMA was sent to the Smithsonian many years back and has since been returned to inactive storage.3833438335