View Full Version : IBM Unit Record

November 22nd, 2006, 04:35 AM
See this plug board on ebay:


In 1967, I spent half my school days learning how to "program" these babies. Yep, you program them by running wires from one hole to another hole. I ended up with a nice certificate that stated I knew how to do it. By the time I got out of college, all the Unit Record (punched cards) stuff was TOTALLY OBSOLETE.

Sure glad I found a IBM 1130 mini computer that was too limited for the grad students to use. I had it all to myself every night. My first 2 jobs were programming a 1130 to do business apps. All that stuff I had done in high school was totally useless.

November 22nd, 2006, 10:05 AM
While the control panel for sale on ebay may be marked for an IBM-557 interpreter, the paper overlay indicates this particular panel was wired (and used) in some other IBM unit record device. For example, the IBM-557 control panel will also fit the IBM-519 reproducing punch and IBM-085 collator. The paper overlay permitted one to wire a control panel that was marked for another machine.

Because some control panels were "interchangeable" (as this one was), interesting (and sometimes disastrous) results could occur when a control panel wired for use in, say for example, an IBM-557 interpreter was accidentally used in an IBM-085 collator.

November 22nd, 2006, 04:48 PM
Yep, the 519 came immediately to mind.

November 23rd, 2006, 07:40 AM
Gee chuckcmagee, I bet you probably remember such terms like "all cycles to list" , block sorting, gangpunching and "punch on X" (or no X).

November 23rd, 2006, 07:21 PM
Of course, our fave is a card jam inside the 1442 reader/punch or the 088 card sorter. There is nothing more fun than trying to clear little pieces of paper jammed between 2 big steel parts.

I do miss "fluffing the cards" before putting them into the card reader hopper.

November 24th, 2006, 09:15 AM
OOOOhhhh... Those sorter jams could be nasty; especially if they started at the 9's pocket and worked their way back. The majority of my computer card handling experience was with the IBM-2540 card reader/punch. An IBM-1403 printer sat right next to it. The inexperienced (or those not thinking), who set boxes of punched cards on the printer's cover while "feeding" the card reader would get an unpleasant surprise when, suddenly, the cover would automatically rise because the printer either ran out of paper or jammed. The rising hood cover would literally "dump" the cards that were sitting on top of it to the floor with an explosive crash, thus scattering them everywhere on the floor. If the cards had sequence numbers punched in them, all you had to was re-sort them on the card sorter. However, many card decks were unsequenced, which made iit extremely difficult (and sometimes impossible) to reconstruct the cards in their proper order.

I have a "card saw" (for removing card jams in the key punch), a steel printer forms ruler and an IBM Porta-Punch as part of my collection from those days.

November 24th, 2006, 05:07 PM
Marking the top of the card deck diagonally with magic marker works fairly well to get deck back in order without seq nums.

Micom 2000
December 1st, 2006, 09:08 PM
That kicked in some memories. I worked in 55/56 as a Junior IBM Operator for a semi-governmental medium-sized installation leased from IBM. At that time IBM only leased not sold. I started with the sorter and became quite proficient at "fluffing" the cards. Also at unjamming the sorter. The card-punching was done in another room by a bunch of young women, and on occasion we would jam the machine so we could go in there to have the damaged ones duplicated and chat up any we were promoting. We did the diagonal line trick on every box of cards we were doing work on. Only the first time of course.

Later I learned how to wire the boards for the collators, interpreters, and reproducers. I loved the logic of wiring the boards. We had one machine called a "Statistical Sorter". which I worked on for a couple of months doing the year-end stats. It would keep track of the number of hits on a particular column and then print them up. You'd have to do multiple runs for all the different info. eg: the number of silicosis patients on workmens compensation.
I've never been able to find any info on this somewhat rare IBM machine.

December 5th, 2006, 07:41 PM
I think the machine you're referring to is the 101 IBM Electronic Statistical Machine. If you want to make a trip back in time, here's a link to the IBM Reference Manual for it.


December 5th, 2006, 07:51 PM
That kicked in some memories. I worked in 55/56 as a Junior IBM Operator for a semi-governmental medium-sized installation leased from IBM... I started with the sorter and became quite proficient at "fluffing" the cards...

Hate to tell you which job is called a "Fluffer" now...

Micom 2000
December 9th, 2006, 01:30 AM
Yep, that's it. Too bad the pics weren't better. I don't remember seeing the manual, but I must have as I was mainly on my own doing the year end reports. I'd forgotten about that archive but it was in my favorites file.