Forum Rules and Etiquette

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This forum is part of our mission to promote the preservation of vintage computers through education and outreach. (In real life we also run events and have a museum.) We encourage you to join us, participate, share your knowledge, and enjoy.

This forum has been around in this format for over 15 years. These rules and guidelines help us maintain a healthy and active community, and we moderate the forum to keep things on track. Please familiarize yourself with these rules and guidelines.

Rule 1: Remain civil and respectful

There are several hundred people who actively participate here. People come from all different backgrounds and will have different ways of seeing things. You will not agree with everything you read here. Back-and-forth discussions are fine but do not cross the line into rude or disrespectful behavior.

Conduct yourself as you would at any other place where people come together in person to discuss their hobby. If you wouldn't say something to somebody in person, then you probably should not be writing it here.

This should be obvious but, just in case: profanity, threats, slurs against any group (sexual, racial, gender, etc.) will not be tolerated.

Rule 2: Stay close to the original topic being discussed
  • If you are starting a new thread choose a reasonable sub-forum to start your thread. (If you choose incorrectly don't worry, we can fix that.)
  • If you are responding to a thread, stay on topic - the original poster was trying to achieve something. You can always start a new thread instead of potentially "hijacking" an existing thread.

Rule 3: Contribute something meaningful

To put things in engineering terms, we value a high signal to noise ratio. Coming here should not be a waste of time.
  • This is not a chat room. If you are taking less than 30 seconds to make a post then you are probably doing something wrong. A post should be on topic, clear, and contribute something meaningful to the discussion. If people read your posts and feel that their time as been wasted, they will stop reading your posts. Worse yet, they will stop visiting and we'll lose their experience and contributions.
  • Do not bump threads.
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  • Use the Private Message system for posts that are targeted at a specific person.

Rule 4: "PM Sent!" messages (or, how to use the Private Message system)

This forum has a private message feature that we want people to use for messages that are not of general interest to other members.

In short, if you are going to reply to a thread and that reply is targeted to a specific individual and not of interest to anybody else (either now or in the future) then send a private message instead.

Here are some obvious examples of when you should not reply to a thread and use the PM system instead:
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  • "How much is shipping to ....": This is a very specific and directed question that is not of interest to anybody else.

Why do we have this policy? Sending a "PM Sent!" type message basically wastes everybody else's time by making them having to scroll past a post in a thread that looks to be updated, when the update is not meaningful. And the person you are sending the PM to will be notified by the forum software that they have a message waiting for them. Look up at the top near the right edge where it says 'Notifications' ... if you have a PM waiting, it will tell you there.

Rule 5: Copyright and other legal issues

We are here to discuss vintage computing, so discussing software, books, and other intellectual property that is on-topic is fine. We don't want people using these forums to discuss or enable copyright violations or other things that are against the law; whether you agree with the law or not is irrelevant. Do not use our resources for something that is legally or morally questionable.

Our discussions here generally fall under "fair use." Telling people how to pirate a software title is an example of something that is not allowable here.

Reporting problematic posts

If you see spam, a wildly off-topic post, or something abusive or illegal please report the thread by clicking on the "Report Post" icon. (It looks like an exclamation point in a triangle and it is available under every post.) This send a notification to all of the moderators, so somebody will see it and deal with it.

If you are unsure you may consider sending a private message to a moderator instead.

New user moderation

New users are directly moderated so that we can weed spammers out early. This means that for your first 10 posts you will have some delay before they are seen. We understand this can be disruptive to the flow of conversation and we try to keep up with our new user moderation duties to avoid undue inconvenience. Please do not make duplicate posts, extra posts to bump your post count, or ask the moderators to expedite this process; 10 moderated posts will go by quickly.

New users also have a smaller personal message inbox limit and are rate limited when sending PMs to other users.

Other suggestions
  • Use Google, books, or other definitive sources. There is a lot of information out there.
  • Don't make people guess at what you are trying to say; we are not mind readers. Be clear and concise.
  • Spelling and grammar are not rated, but they do make a post easier to read.
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Ambient Sound of Mainframe Computer Center

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    Ambient Sound of Mainframe Computer Center


    Odd request this but does anyone know of a source of the background sounds of a typical 60/70/80's mainframe computer room. I was after something ambient I could have playing whilst running the simulated operator consoles of the couple of mainframe emulators I use (IBM 370 and ICL 1900). My first stop was Youtube videos such as the ones of the IBM 1401 that the Computer History Museum at Mountain View have, but there is always the poster talking over it. I could fabricate something (random air con units etc) but someone 'real' would be nice.



    Originally posted by interalia View Post

    Odd request this but does anyone know of a source of the background sounds of a typical 60/70/80's mainframe computer room.
    100's of 5" Rotron fans.
    I have a notch in my hearing to prove it.

    there may be something you can use in the 7090 computer room in "Dr. Strangelove"


      In a large CDC installation, it was the tape drives (vacuum pumps) that were the big irritants, unless someone opened the hood on one of the line printers. The tape drive noise could be classified as "white noise' but with 16 or 24 of the things, the result was high 80s dB levels, so after a few hours it ate into your nerves. After complaints, management made a big box of those yellow foam earplugs available, which helped tremendously. The CPUs themselves were pretty much noiseless, aside from a faint 400Hz whine (cooling was chilled water into a heat exchanger).
      Reach me: vcfblackhole _at_ protonmail dot com.


        Yes, the overwhelming source of sound is all of the fans, both in equipment and in the air handlers. Then there were the randomly occurring alarm signals (beeps usually) that no one had noticed or bothered to track down because that piece of equipment hadn't yet failed.


          The other thing of more interest, noise wise, was the robotic tape libraries doing their work. At one point at NCAR we had five StorageTek tape silos all running at the same time, with tapes being grabbed by the arms, swinging around to deposit them in the tape drives or pass-through ports to another silo. Then you got whirring and clunks.


            Originally posted by cruff View Post
            Yes, the overwhelming source of sound is all of the fans, both in equipment and in the air handlers. Then there were the randomly occurring alarm signals (beeps usually) that no one had noticed or bothered to track down because that piece of equipment hadn't yet failed.
            Data centers now have much more higher frequency noise from all of the 3" and smaller fans, The tiny high-volume ones in 1U boxes are especially annoying.


              Originally posted by Al Kossow View Post
              I have a notch in my hearing to prove it.
              At 6 kHz like mine?

              Member of the Rhode Island Computer Museum


                Don't forget the punch cards (mostly readers, but sometimes punches). While not continuous noise, it was arguable the most distinctive and recognizable. And (true) line printers still made plenty of noise with the cover fully on - just not the gun-range noises they made with it off/up. I know a state University that was still using their IBM 4341 - with primary/initial input on punch cards - into the 90's.
                - Doug


                  Yeah, the CDC 405 card reader sound was certainly distinctive, sort of a flapa-flapa machine-gun sound as the cards hit the bumper on the stacker side. The 415 card punch sounded more like a hive of angry wasps, but wasn't run that much. The 501 drum printers (I'm really dating myself now) again were more like machine gun sounds, but not as loud as the 512 train printers that would SCREAM at you if you left the top open.

                  That's not the agonized scream of the hapless programmer or operator who left a box of cards on top of an IBM 1403 line printer when it ran out of paper...
                  Reach me: vcfblackhole _at_ protonmail dot com.


                    Don't forget the sound of the raised floor tiles creaking as people walk on them.


                      Too loud to hear that. On the other hand, the shouted imprecation of the hapless I/O clerk pushing a cart loaded with trays of cards hitting a loose/raised separator strip in said floor was memorable.

                      The sound I remember best was--silence--when we had the occasional power failure. Darned eerie, it was.
                      Reach me: vcfblackhole _at_ protonmail dot com.


                        In our DP room, it used to be the Rosy printers on every error. So much so that you could tell if you had got a connection back by the distinctive clatter.

                        The printer room would really liven up on a reactor trip.

                        But all these sounds have gone with the replacement of mechanicals with solid state stuff.
                        Current fleet
                        TRS80 Model 4 - BBC B - Tatung Einstein - PCW9512 - PET 3032 - C64 - ZX81 - Spectrum 48K - Amiga A500 - Apple II europlus - Apple iMAC G3. Sharp MZ-80K. - IBM 5160 XT - Multibus 286/10 - Micro PDP 11/73 - Rainbow PC100A - MicroVax II - MicroVAX 3100, 3300, VAX 4000 VLC & 4000 Model 96 - AlphaStation 225 Apricot PC - Apple Performa 6200 - Apple Mac IIcx - Osborne 1 - ACT Sirius 1


                          Add in the harmony of a band printer lighting of and spewing out a 100 pages before you could blink.


                            Back in the 1604 days, some smart guys rigged up the line printers, tape drives and the speaker (there was a speaker attached to the high-order bits via a DAC of the accumulator) to play "Anchors Aweigh" for visiting Navy brass. The printers would furnish the percussion, while the tape drives sounded the bass line.
                            Last edited by Chuck(G); October 19, 2021, 09:48 AM.
                            Reach me: vcfblackhole _at_ protonmail dot com.


                              For a while, we had a DecTalk device wired into the computer room speaker system that was programmed to "helpfully" let the operators know when one of the nodes went down on the home grown HyperChannel cross-bar network. I don't think that lasted more than a month or two. It was an audio alert equivalent to red boxes on the network status monitor displayed on some color terminals in the operations area and the system programmer's hallway.